Morning rains may have kept some spectators away, but failed to dampen one of the strongest showings of competitors in the 47th annual National Hollerin’ Contest.
Aaron Jackson, volunteer fireman and Hollerin’ Heritage Festival Committee chair, said the event got a slow start, but the early rains finally stopped, leaving overcast skies throughout the afternoon.
“Attendance is down, of course, with the weather,” said Mr. Jackson. “I think folks just waited a while for the rain to clear, but I think it will turn out well.”
Those who did attend were treated to a day of traditional crafts and skills demonstrations, mouth-watering barbecue, toe-tapping bluegrass and what many said was some of the best hollerin’ in years.
Judges Neal Strickland, Laura Deans, Clark Wooten, Shawn Purvis and Miss Spivey’s Corner Rahmeka Cox had a tough job deciding between the numerous talented competitors in the Whistlin’, Conch Shell Blowin’, Jr. Hollerin’, Ladies Callin’ and National Hollerin’ contests.
The Whistlin’ contest winner was Jim Grastie of Fayetteville, who also came in second runner-up in the Hollerin’ category. He won with a selection including the Andy Griffith theme song and the military anthems.
Brian Bullard of Faison became the national Conch Shell Blowin’ champion for the second year in a row.
The five youngsters who competed in the Jr. Hollerin’ Contest charmed the audience, and in the case of Shelby Bushinger of Cary, left more than a few ears ringing with what she called her “loud scream.” In the end, brothers Cage and Ben Bullard of Faison took first and second place, respectively.
With no entries in the Teen Hollerin’ Contest, competition moved directly into the Ladies Callin’. Returning champion Sheila Frye of Lillington again took first place — her 10th — with her morning and distress calls, in addition to performing “The Mule Skinner’s Blues” and “Bringing in the Sheaves.” She dedicated her performance to James Blalock of Lillington, who passed away last week.
Last year’s first runner-up, Ivy Hinson, reclaimed her spot with calls that included “Amazing Grace,” “Shortnin’ Bread” and “Freckled Face Eliza Jane.”
Then, it was time for the men to take the stage for the National Hollerin’ Contest. The field was extremely competitive with nine strong entries, several of them returning champions from the past.
One first-time entrant was Eric Heinsohn of Raleigh who shared hollers used on the family farm where he grew up in Cordova, Md. While not incorporating the falsettos used in the local hollers, he impressed the audience with lower-timbered dinner and cow calls.
Reigning champion Tony Peacock took first runner-up this year, performing a courtin’ holler of “It Had to be You,” some traditional hollers and closing with his signature holler, sounding very much like a machine gun rounding out with a spirited, “Whoo!”
Larry Jackson of Dunn claimed his ninth title as the National Hollerin’ Champion with hollers originating from the 1800s, said to be passed down through five generations of his family.
“This is just as special to me as the first time,” said Mr. Jackson as he was presented the trophy.
“This is the best, and most complete overall field we’ve had in years,” he added. Story and photo courtesy The Daily Record