Year of celebrations planned in the pickle capital

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Sesquicentennial Schedule

See the events planned this year to celebrate Mount Olive’s 150th anniversary. 3A

Happy birthday, Mount Olive

The town of Mount Olive begins official celebration of its 150th birthday on March 1.

Area churches are asked to ring their church bells for about five minutes at 2 p.m.

“We thought the ringing of the church bells would be a fun way to get everything started,” said Lynn Williams, 150th Anniversary Committee chairperson. Letters went out to local churches a few weeks ago. “There aren’t too many occasions when all of the town’s church bells ring at the same time, and this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many to hear it.”

A kick-off celebration, presented by the 150th Anniversary Committee, starts at 4 p.m. inside the University of Mount Olive’s Hazel Waters Kornegay Assembly Hall - the former Mount Olive High School Auditorium on 207 Wooten St. The event includes music, presentations on the town’s history and the formal start of the sesquicentennial observance.

Admission is free.

“We planned an event that recognizes and celebrates the town’s rich history and diversity,” Williams said. “So we’ll have Lavon-De Driver talk about the Winn Family – a prominent family of African-American and Native American descent who sold the land for the founding of the town back in the 1850s. Carrie Kornegay will talk about the Carver High School story.

“And with Ken Dilda’s help, I have the honor of talking about the town’s history. Hopefully people will walk away learning something new about their town that they didn’t know before.”

Rounding out the day will be proclamations by Gov. Roy Cooper and Mount Olive commissioners, recognition of the town’s living mayors, and debut of a promotional video about the town. Dr. Carl and Marie Ashley of Mount Olive and Apostle Norbert Simmons and the Gospelaires will present special music.

Local scouts from Boy Scout Troop 200 and Girl Scout Troop 389 will also assist with the program.

Beyond March 1 – which happens to be the day the town was officially incorporated in 1870 – the 150th Anniversary Committee has pulled together a series of events in partnership with the Mount Olive Historical Society, Steele Memorial Library, the North Carolina Pickle Festival, the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, the town and other local churches and organizations.

“The historical society has pulled together a series of Glimpses of History programs at Steele Library and church heritage services throughout the year, including a fun Myths and Legends talk in June,” Williams said.

Several programs feature the organizations and churches that were operating at the time of the town’s incorporation in 1870 – Masonic Lodge No. 208, First Baptist Church, 1863, Northeast Chapel Original Free Will Baptist Church, 1865, and First United Methodist Church, 1870.

Other observances are connected to annual events in town like the award-winning N.C. Pickle Festival.

“The festival’s theme this year reflects the town’s 150th anniversary, and part of the T-shirt design is used for the commemorative pole banners that will hang throughout 2020,” she said. “The festival will also debut the sale of 150th keepsake Christmas ornaments. We’ll end the year at the Chamber’s Holiday Open House in December with the burial of a time capsule. And while we haven’t worked out the details yet, we have a tentative plan for a lawn party in the fall where folks can come dressed in period costume.

“It’s a big year in the life of the town, and we hope to have a little something that appeals to everyone at some point in 2020.

The 150th Anniversary Committee started its work in the summer of 2019 at the initiative of former Mayor Joe Scott. Members include Mayor Kenny Talton; Ken Dilda, of the Mount Olive Historical Society; Mount Olive Commissioner Dr. Barbara Kornegay; Sherry Davis and Erin Lambert, Town of Mount Olive; Lula Powell, Carver Alumni & Friends; Julie Beck, Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce and the North Carolina Pickle Festival; Al Southerland, Men of F.I.C.; and Lynn Williams, Mt. Olive Pickle.

The complete list of events, along with any updates, is posted on the town of Mount Olive’s website at townofmountolivenc.org.

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