July 03--ORIENTAL -- Pamlico County's Independence Day weekend festival has a proven track record and formula for success that dates to 1980.
The two-day all-volunteer effort is family-oriented and many of the same people have been heading up a variety of entertainment, contests and events for many years. Stability has equated to sustainability in attracting huge crowds to this small village each July.
It begins Friday, with two traditional favorites on tap -- the baking contest and two beauty pageants, which will crown the 2013 Miss Minnow and Miss Croaker.
South Street along the waterfront from Hodges to High streets becomes one way at 7 a.m. Friday and vendors begin setting up for the 2 p.m. opening of the information booth. The baking drop-off is from 3 to 4:30 p.m., with items going on sale at 6 p.m. and winners announced an hour later.
There is afternoon music by the Pamlico Community Band at 4 p.m. and the Kids Park opens at 6 p.m.
The beauty pageants also start at 6 p.m. A street dance with the Soul Shakers will offer rock, pop and beach music at 8 p.m.
The annual parade lines up at 9 a.m. Saturday on Ragan Road, with the event moving down Broad Street and through town an hour later.
Paul Fairbank, longtime parade organizer, expects more than 100 entries for the parade, which travels Broad, Hodges and South streets.
The lineup includes decorated floats, vintage cars, patriotic and service groups, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, fire engines, tractors, motorcycles, scooters, golf carts, music, the Miss Minnows and, of course, the Croaker Queen and her court.
Prizes for the entrants are awarded by the Ladies of the Neuse.
At 11:30, registration begins for the oriental Dinghy Club Regatta, which sails off at 2 p.m.
Music returns and the Kids Park opens shortly before noon.
The Boys from Carolina provide country, bluegrass and traditional music at noon. From 6 to 9 p.m., the live entertainment resumes with The Southern Aires and traditional swing band music for the street dance at 6 p.m.
The festival concludes with fireworks over the harbor at 9:30 p.m., weather permitting.
Volunteers are still accepted. Call Mike or Kathy Guzzo at 249-2347.
As for the background, according to the festival website, "On (the Fourth of July), 1980 the Oriental Women's Club put on the three-day event complete with a fishing contest. It was done in the spirit of benefiting the Pamlico County non-profits. Through the years, it has ebbed and flowed with each group of volunteers that have worked to put it together, but the purpose has remained the same: We do the work to put on a wonderful festival to benefit the non-profits in Pamlico County, while providing an event where families can come and enjoy it together."
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