By David Anderson / Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 21:43 PM.
Members of the Georgia K. Battle Friendship Club and the Fairfield Senior Club plan the layout of Kinston’s 250th birthday cake that will be served during Saturday’s celebration at the Farmer’s Market. In addition to the panel pictured, there will be another panel of equal size in the final cake.
Zach Frailey / The Free Press
Kinston residents often feel there is nothing to do in the community, but if they cannot find something to do or see during the city’s 250th birthday weekend, well, it’s on them.
The city of Kinston, Community Council for the Arts, VisitKinston, the Lenoir County Association of Congregations and many more organizations are partnering to pull off a celebration for the ages.
The festivities begin Friday with a reception and award presentations at the arts center, followed by a street fair and live entertainment Saturday, and culminating with a community worship service Sunday.
The public is invited to gather at the arts center downtown starting at 6:30 p.m. to see artifacts from the N.C. Museum of History “that have never been displayed in Kinston,” said Jan Barwick, director of VisitKinston.
They will be greeted by Gov. and Mrs. Caswell and be entertained by Jonkonnu, both from Tryon Palace in New Bern. Visitors can enjoy light hors d’oeuvres and beverages.
Friday will also be the time for the presentation of the Hall of Heroes award to the late Dr. Keats Sparrow by the Colonial Commission of the Historical Preservation Group.
Sparrow was a professor emeritus of English and dean of the Collegeof Artsand Sciences at ECU. He was active in a number of state and local historical organizations and edited author Clayton Brown Alexander’s biography of Gov. Richard Caswell: “First of Patriots and the Best of Men.”
The Dobbs County Tartan, a piece of tartan fabric with colors woven in to represent Dobbs County and the Scottish heritage of the early settlers,will also be presented to the members of the Lenoir County Board of Commissioners and the Kinston City Council Friday, Barwick said.
Kinston and Lenoir County were initially part of the much larger Dobbs County.
Like all birthday events that weekend, Friday’s reception will be free to the public.
“It’s part of the birthday celebration,” Barwick said.
The birthday celebrations Saturday will kick off with a cooking demonstration at the Lenoir County Farmer’s Market at 10 a.m.
Barwick said Pat Lawson and culinary students from Lenoir Community College will cook foods that would have been eaten in Caswell’s day.
Herritage Street between Gordon and North streets will be closed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for residents to revel in the continued celebration.
Bill Ellis, director of the Kinston-Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department, said the city of Kinston is hosting Saturday’s festival, which will be opened by the Tryon Palace Fife and Drum Corps.
Gov. and Mrs. Caswell and Jonkonnu will provide greetings and entertainment, with additional entertainment by Dick Knight, Bill Meyers and Friends, and more.
There will be a march of 18th-century dignitaries and a symphony of church bells around the city at noon.
Church choirs will sing, and there will be entertainment for children, including pony rides. Hot dogs, chips and drinks will be served at the CSS Neuse II.
The piece de resistance of Saturday’s events will be a birthday cake that is 8 feet long by 4 feet wide, provided by the Georgia K. Battle Friendship Club and Fairfield Senior Club, Ellis said.
Downtown merchants on Herritage Street will also be open Saturday.
“They’ll extend their day and people can shop and enjoy the festivities,” Ellis said.
The weekend celebration will end Sunday with a community-wide prayer service at Queen Street United Methodist Church starting at 4 p.m.
The service is being organized by the Lenoir County Association of Congregations.
The Rev. Mark Benson, AOC member and pastor of Gordon Street Christian Church, headed a planning subcommittee, along with fellow pastors — and AOC members — Allen Bingham of Queen Street, Jason McKnight of Grace Fellowship Church, Julian Pridgen of St. Augustus AME Zion Church, Wanda Neely of First Presbyterian Church and Chris Singleton of Stop Hunger Now.
Benson said the keynote speaker will be Kinston native Lin Dawson, who played tight end for the New England Patriots during the 1980s. He also played football at N.C. State University and Kinston High School.
The service will include a “mass choir” made up of members of various local church choirs, and led by John O’Brien of First Presbyterian. Jacob Mewborn of Queen Street will play the organ.
A hand bell choir from Gordon Street also will perform.
“The theme of the service is looking back over the past 250 years and giving thanks for that, and looking forward to the next 250 years and asking for God’s blessing on that,” Benson said.
Following the service, a procession of worshippers led by bagpipers can head to the arts center for a reception.
Benson noted Queen Street has the capacity to hold 500 worshippers; child care will be available.
“We would love to have a congregation of 500 people,” Benson said. “We would love for people of faith from all around the community to come give thanks for our city’s heritage and pray for blessings in the future.”
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 orDavid.Anderson@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at DavidFreePress.
Reception at Community Council for the Arts
400 N. Queen St.
Cooking demonstration: What would Richard Caswell eat?
Lenoir County Farmer’s Market
North Herritage at West Caswell streets
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Herritage at Gordon streets
Community worship service
Queen Street United Methodist Church
500 N. Queen St.