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Pecan festival begins in Whiteville with reception Thursday, November 2

The Columbus County Arts Council gallery, at 822 S. Madison St., Whiteville, will be the site of the N.C. Pecan Harvest Festival’s opening event at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 2.

The public is invited to come speak with Festival Queen Kathryn Ogden and Parade Grand Marshal Vic Ward.

Ogden is a singer-songwriter, teacher and painter who recently returned to Whiteville after 20 years in Virginia. Ward, who became a N.C. State Highway Patrol trooper in 1990, has steadily advanced to positions of greater responsibility connected with public safety and homeland security. In February, Ward was appointed Deputy Commander of the SHP (Lieutenant Colonel) by Governor Roy Cooper.

A new art exhibit will also be open to the public for the first time, featuring oil paintings by Ogden alongside nature photos by Anne Grimes.

Friday

Ogden will be officially presented as Queen, along with a court of six Pecan Belles, in a ceremony at Vineland Station at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. A catered luncheon will follow for those who have already purchased wristbands.

Between 1 and 4 p.m., visitors may tour four homes in uptown Whiteville, as well as the arts council gallery and the Reuben Brown House at 128 E. Columbus St. Tour-only wristbands will be sold at the Reuben Brown House for $10.

Saturday morning

Saturday’s fun begins early, as classic car owners will begin to set up on Madison Street at 8 a.m. and vendors will be opening booths soon thereafter. At 10 a.m., the Nutty Parade will emerge from Whiteville High School, traveling downtown, with Ward in the Grand Marshal’s car.

Children’s activities, the tractor/boat show and the art exhibit all begin at 10 a.m.

The science museum’s Native American culture program will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with historical talks and dance demonstrations by the Waccamaw Siouan Princesses, who serve as cultural ambassadors for “the People of the Fallen Star.” The Princesses will demonstrate traditional crafts and lead museum visitors in creating their own clay pinch-pots and cornhusk dolls to take home.

The public may enter Vineland Station between 1 and 2 p.m. to see cooking contest displays. Winners will be announced from the stage.

Homecoming on the Main Street stage

Musical entertainment will begin at noon. The popular Black Water Rhythm and Blues Band will provide dance-worthy classic beach music, blues and funk until 2 p.m.

Black Water R&B was founded by Clarkton trombonist and vocalist Dale Edwards in 2010 and has involved a rotating cast of players from Columbus County and surrounding areas. Keyboard player William Sellers lives “just outside Whiteville,” Edwards said. The band was recently heard at Taste of Tabor, and they played at a Live after Five gathering in Whiteville this summer.

“We don’t get to play in Whiteville as much as we used to,” Edwards said. As the band’s reputation has grown, so has their traveling schedule. After packing up from the festival performance, the band will head to Scotland County to play for a hospital fundraiser gala that will last until at least midnight. “We’re gone a lot. Be careful what you wish for,” said Edwards.

The band members have played for some events that felt “like pulling teeth,” Edwards said, because the audience sat far away and did not visibly respond to the music. They like to play events such as the Pecan Harvest Festival, where audience members set up chairs near the stage and get up to dance to their favorite numbers.

After 2 p.m., two other local favorites will perform. Krystal Kella Hawkins is a solo vocalist with a growing following and a third CD in the works.

“I do mostly jazzy stuff and I want to do something that older and younger people will enjoy,” she said in an interview that will appear in 954 Magazine later this month. Hawkins has shows scheduled in Wilmington and Raleigh as well as at the Cape Fear Winery, where she works as a waitress. A large crowd showed up for her first Whiteville appearance at The Chef and the Frog a few months ago.

Festival queen and “down home girl” Kathryn Ogden may exchange her tiara for a cowgirl hat when she sings with the Kathryn-Izzy-Evans-and-Travis ensemble, which showcases a variety of “Americana” genres. Ogden “could not be happier” to return to her hometown, bringing her talented daughter and son with her, she said. Her fondness for smalltown living and family values shines through in her music, both original and classic.

Keeping everything moving on schedule will be master of ceremonies Jared Worthington. The elementary school principal, whose talents are more suited to the kickball field than to the stage, will do his best not to sing. He said, however, “I’m working on some things” to add his own twist to the entertainment. “You’ll just have to be there to see,” he said.

Stuart Rogers