BLADENBORO — Bladenboro has some a-maize-ing shuckers.
Saturday at the old Bladenboro High School building, the Bladenboro Historical Society held its 25th annual Fun Day, a portion of which was dedicated to a corn shucking contest. It was also the 100th anniversary of the building, which opened as the Farm Life School in 1917.
“I don’t care if I win, just as long as I beat Ronnie (Russ),” joked Bladenboro mayor and corn shucking contestant Rufus Duckworth.
The contest — entered by nine shuckers — required contestants to remove both the shucks and the kernels from the cob. The winner was the one with the most corn by weight.
Duckworth ended up coming in second to Russ, who took the prize by removing 2.66 pounds of corn. Duckworth’s bucket held 2.06 pounds, and Ronnie Hickman came in third with 1.88 pounds. A crowd favorite, and the lone woman in the field of men, was Lailabeth Deaver, owner of Hair by Lailabeth, who shucked 1.15 pounds.
After a welcome and introduction of dignitaries, and 82nd Airborne Chorus’ 14-member a capella group wowed guests with its tight harmonies on songs like My Girl, Stand By Me, Soldier, and God Bless America.
“I knew the military had choral groups, but I didn’t know they were that good,” said one bystander.
Other entertainment included author Bill Thompson, who regaled the group with stories of Southern culture, Brenda Storms, Julia Deavers, and Wilton Lennon, among others. Songs included country tunes like Lorrie Morgan’s Except for Monday, as well as contemporary Christian songs like the Ryan Stevenson/GabeReal song Eye of the Storm and old hymns such as How Great Thou Art.
A real hometown, community atmosphere was contributed to by games like a football throw, dunking booth, balloon pop, and a fishing game. The fire department had a large container filled with water, and children raced to fill up a large bucket about 25 feet away by carrying small buckets of water back and forth.
Guests lounged on the front steps in the 75-degree weather while enjoying hot dogs, funnel cakes, ice cream, cake pops, and pork sandwiches.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Historical Society member Joyce Walters. “The weather’s perfect, and we’re very pleased with how many people came out today.”
“These events are always fun,” said Adrienne Berney of the North Carolina Federation of Historical Societies in Raleigh. “Many historical societies struggle to get people interested in history, and these serve to get a diverse group of people together.”
“Just look at the group here today,” she continued, gesturing at the crowd of hundreds of people representing young families and senior citizens, skateboarders and farmers, black and white populations. “Each generation rewrites history, so it’s important for them all to come together, especially in this day and age.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.