Monday, 03 December 2018 15:21

Rockingham's Christmas on the Square cut short due to rain

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Christmas on the Square was cut short Saturday due to rain. Christmas on the Square was cut short Saturday due to rain. Photos by Betty McIntyre

ROCKINGHAM — Vendors set up in the newly renovated Harrington Square Saturday for what has become an anticipated holiday tradition.

The day started out beautifully, but within a few hours rain began slowly creeping in.

All those who made the effort to go to Christmas on the Square early were able to patronize the variety of vendors as they sipped hot chocolate and filled up on the different foods that were available for purchase. There were around 90 vendors scheduled to attend, although some decided not to come due to the threat of rain. Despite the rain, numerous vendors said they did very well as folks continued purchasing under the cover of an umbrella.

David and Tammy Stewart, of Stewart’s Pee Dee Bees in Ellerbe, have been selling local honey for 10 years— their fourth year at Christmas on the Square ― along with many other products which are made with beeswax and honey. Tammy Stewart also makes unique pine straw baskets. 

“I have been making them for 30 years, and I love it,” said Tammy Stewart. “My son began taking a fine arts class in school 30 years ago in which he made the pine straw baskets. I was fascinated, so I began making them and have been ever since. I thank Richmond County Schools for that.”

This year marked vendor Valeria Lunceford’s 15th year attending the annual event. When asked what keeps her coming back each year she said, “I love it! Seeing my family, friends, and helping my church, Beaver Dam United Methodist, raise money for the Alzheimer’s Disease Association makes it all worthwhile.” Lunceford handcrafts all her items. 

The aroma from turkey legs, ribs, and much more would make one do a double-take passing by the grill of vendor Adrian Hunt from Lumberton. This was Hunt’s third year coming to satisfy appetites with “It Ain’t Good Without Wood.” 

“Carolyn Ford is very enjoyable to work with which makes it easy on the vendors in coordinating,” he said.

Hunt also mentioned that his turkey legs were the best around.

The Richmond Community Theatre recently began showing the “Sanders Family Christmas.”

“It is a beautiful show as the cast and crew have worked very hard to give the community this gift of Christmas,” said director Merrie Dawkins.

 Showing is Dec. 1-8 beginning at 8 p.m. with the exception of December 2 which began at 3 pm. Box office hours are Monday-Friday 3:30-8 p.m., Saturday 12:30-8 p.m., and Sunday 1-3 p.m. For more information, call 910-997-3765.

It was Eric Byrd Insurance Agency’s first time attending the event. The agency had a container full of golf tees for anyone who was willing to take a guess at how many were in it. A prize was awarded at the end of the day to the one closest to the number of tees. He also had ice scrapers and T-shirts to give away. 

Down a little further were the famous collard sandwiches being sold by Greater Diggs A.M.E. Zion Church. Church members have been attending the event for the past 16 years. There were also sausage dogs, hot dogs, fish sandwiches and wings for purchase. 

The N.C. Lions Club Vision Van offered free vision screening as well as glaucoma checks. This was the club’s ninth year attending the event. Bryan Hoover, who works for N.C. Lions Inc., sets up the van statewide. Dr. Elvin Smith from Hardwick Vision Center performed the exams. If anyone needed further attention, they were referred to a doctor. The Lions Club helps in assisting with costs to those who qualify; as their motto states “We Serve.”

Arts Richmond was also active with local artists were set up inside the building. Photographer Reginald Cason had several of his photos on display. Cason’s interest in photography began back in the ‘80s when cameras were film only. He said that several of his photos were in the International Library of Photographers. 

Photographer Jimmy McDonald was also on site. McDonald has headed the Richmond County Photographer’s Group for seven years. The group is sponsored and hosted by Arts Richmond and was formed to encourage local photographers, amateur as well as professionals, to attend the meeting. 

McDonald mentioned “We have a good core group and are always open for new attendees,” McDonald said. “We hope to have our annual exhibit around the first part of 2019. All are welcome to come out and join us.” 

The group meets the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. 

“It’s very interesting to see each person’s interpretation of the assignments, and all can connect with us on our facebook page, Richmond County Photography Group” said McDonald. 

Author and storyteller J.A. Bolton was also on-site with copies of his books. Bolton began storytelling at age 5. He said that he would go to the local store with his dad and listen to the hunters and fishermen tell their stories.

“Folks would buy me a Moon Pie and an R.C. Cola to hear me tell stories,” he said.

Bolton added that the owner of the store had a black bear caged behind the store. 

“Folks would purchase peanuts to feed the bear. Some would get brave and buy an R.C. for the bear and roll it into his cage,” he recalled. “One day the bear escaped but was lured back into his cage with several cans of beer.”

Bolton began writing books in 2002 after having a heart attack. 

“I had to stay away from extreme heat and cold, so this kept me inside most of the time,’ he said. “I got extremely bored, so I began writing about my grandparents on the farm and that is how I got started.” 

Bolton’s wife, Azalea, is also a writer. 

Ray Charles Lindsey enjoyed the event as he waited on an opportunity to play his guitar and sing. He has been playing around downtown Rockingham for the past 20 years and has a gospel album out called “Praise His Name.”

Carol and the Bells were set to play at 12:30 p.m. and wrapped-up the entertainment for the day around 1:15 pm because of the rain.

Despite the wet weather, folks were still in good spirits as they enjoyed the event under the shelter of an umbrella or the corner of a building, that is until around 12:30 p.m. when it became more than a drizzle which sent most home. 

All in all, the spirit of Christmas still filled downtown Rockingham as dedicated vendors as well as community members came together once again to share the spirit of Christmas.