LUMBERTON — Scotty Thompson, an art teacher at Lumberton Senior High School, saw plenty of up and coming artists Saturday at the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair.
“Look how good these pumpkin paintings are,” he said, pointing to Jada Love, 10, of Lumberton, and her friend Conasha McAllister, 11, also of Lumberton. “I’ll soon have them in my class,” he said.
Thompson and nine of his high school students were on hand at the fair’s pumpkin painting contest to help the young contestants turn an average pumpkin into a piece of art.
“I enjoy helping out,” said Elizabeth Lowery, a junior at Lumberton High School.
Thompson said that each year, more participants are taking part in the event.
“This is the third year that the event is being sponsored by the Lumberton Parks and Recreation Department,” he said. “It gets bigger and better every year.”
Thompson said that the event, which this year drew 125 contestants, is something that young people from ages 4 to 15 look forward to and enjoy participating in each year, including students in his art classes.
John Jacobs, park superintendent at Luther Britt Park in Lumberton, said the fair’s pumpkin painting contest has a similar draw as the pumpkin carving contest held at Luther Britt Park each year. The fair event has grown in participation from 50 children the first year to 125 contestants. First and second prizes are given in four age categories.
Folks started crowding into the fair early Saturday and by noon everything was in full swing. Lines grew as people waited to board rides and others flocked to the food vendors who served classic fair cuisine including funnel cakes, sausage sandwiches and other culinary delights.
“So far things are going wonderful, ” Allen Faircloth, president of the Fair Board said. “We had that little bit of rain on Thursday, but things turned around and have been going well since.
“We have something for everyone,” he said. “If someone comes here and doesn’t have a good time it’s their own fault.”
Faircloth was one of the contestants in Saturday’s Mountaire Chickin Pickin’ Contest, in which 16 contestants competed to see how much chicken meat they could pick from a bird in five minutes.
This was the second year the Chicken Pickin’ contest was held. Last year’s event was almost rained out.
The fair is open today from 1 to 8 p.m., with free rides from 1 to 2 p.m. Attendees with a church bulletin can get in free before 2 p.m. and military members with a photo ID can get in free all day. Sunday is also Univision Family Day, which means $20 admission including rides and entertainment.
Fair-goers should plan ahead in order to avoid a road closure on N.C. 41 South near Marion Road. Some motorists will have to detour around the closure to reach the fairgrounds, located at 3750 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Traffic coming from points east should follow the detour signs route along N.C. 72 to West Fifth Street to Starlite Drive to N.C. 41, according to NCDOT. Traffic coming from points north and west of Lumberton should take Exit 17 at Interstate 95, turn right on West Fifth Street, then follow the detour signs to Starlite Drive.
For a full fair schedule, visit robesoncountyfair.com.
Bb Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.