In just about a couple of weeks, it will be time for a grand and fun celebration in McDowell County.
The 175th anniversary of the founding of McDowell County and the city of Marion is fast approaching, said organizers of this special event.
A report about the county’s “dodransbicentennial” or “demisemiseptcentennial” (both are names referring to a 175th celebration) was presented Monday at the regular meeting of the McDowell County Commission.
McDowell County was formed when the North Carolina General Assembly created the county from parts of Burke and Rutherford Counties. On March 13, 1843, the county became official. It was named for Col. Joseph McDowell, a resident and Revolutionary War hero of the Battle of Kings Mountain. The city of Marion was created when Jonathan Logan Carson, youngest son of Col. John Carson, donated 50 acres of land for the new county seat of McDowell County. The city was named Marion after Gen. Francis Marion, (nicknamed the Swamp Fox) and also a Revolutionary War hero.
A series of events will take place all around the county and in downtown Marion the last week of September. The County Commissioners and the Marion City Council previously asked representatives from the Carson House to lead and plan event activities.
At Monday’ meeting, Chuck Abernathy, chairman of the Carson House board, stated that the celebration will be less extensive than the one that occurred for the sesquicentennial in 1993 but a week of fun and educational events are being planned for this year.
At least eight events are planned to occur from Saturday, Sept. 22 to Saturday, Sept. 30. Former Carson House Director Amanda Finn Carson House Director worked diligently to help get an exciting event calendar planned, according to Abernathy.
The week of celebration will start Saturday, Sept. 22 with a Historic 5k Fun Run/Historic Walk on the Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba Greenway. It will begin at the McDowell House entrance and will kickoff at 9 a.m. Participants will get to meet actors dressed as famous individuals from McDowell County’s past. The event is being coordinated by Cooperative Extension Director Molly Sandfoss.
Two events will occur on Sunday, Sept. 23. The Historic Tea and Fashion Show begins at 3 p.m. in the Blanton Family Center at the First Baptist Church of Marion. It will be an afternoon tea, featuring specialty teas and a blend of savory and sweet delicacies to be served in the fellowship center. The fashion show will features the creations of Kerri Davis and will be modeled by local volunteers. A demonstration on “fan etiquette” will be presented as well. Tickets are $20 and proceeds will benefit the Historic Carson House. A limited number of tickets are available by calling the Carson House at 828-724-49480.
The Smarty Paws Pet Parade will also take place on Sunday, Sept. 23 at the Corpening Memorial YMCA. Registration begins at 2 p.m. and the parade will start at 3 p.m. Entry fee is $5 and all proceeds will be divided equally between Rusty’s Legacy, Paws & Claws, Mercy Fund Animal Rescue, the McDowell Chapter of Brother Wolf and the McDowell County Animal Shelter. Prizes will be awarded for the most historical, most creative and the best owner/pet lookalike contest.
Abernathy said MACA will have an exhibition of the artwork by the late Howard McCurry.
On Tuesday, Sept. 25, a plaque will be dedicated in the county courthouse recognizing the five highest serving judges from McDowell County’s history. Two justices from McDowell were appointed to the N.C. Supreme Court many years ago. Marion is also home to Judge Richard C. Erwin who was appointed to the N.C. Court of Appeals in 1977 and became the first African-American in the history of the state of North Carolina to be elected to statewide office. Judge Erwin was also the first African-American to be appointed to a federal judicial position in the history of the state. This event will take place at noon at the McDowell County Courthouse.
On that same day, a bus tour of historic homes of Marion will occur. The bus tour begins at 6 p.m. and will be limited to 30 people. To register, go to the link on the McDowell 175 Web site. The bus tour will point out the historically significant homes of Marion’s founders and business leaders, according to Abernathy.
The Founder’s Art Walk will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, with a walking tour to view the new murals of famous attractions and locations around McDowell County. Karen Dark has led a team of talented artists and craftsmen to create this unique outdoor gallery for the county. Then from 6:30 until 9 p.m., folks can stay in downtown Marion to enjoy the lively sounds of local band Common Ground. Local downtown businesses will be open extra hours and there will be activities for the whole family, according to a news release.
On Saturday, Sept. 29, many of the events will be focused at Historic Carson House. At 10 a.m., there will be historic demonstrations and storytelling by the re-enactors with the Overmountain Victory Trail Association and local historians.
Then at 11 a.m., bands and special local musicians will perform music from our heritage. The Jubilee Arbor will have performances by the Belfast Boys, Gordon Warburton and his family, Dulcina and Matthew Boeger, plus many more. The concert is free to the public. Food and drinks will be available to purchase.
After that, the premiere of the original play, “Spirit and Bone,” written by Freddy Bradburn and directed by Treavor Gouge will be performed by the Foothills Community Theater.
The show begins at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 and it is a ticketed event. It is a historical fiction musical play about life in early McDowell County. A matinee performance will be held on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. The play and the musical concerts will be held in the Jubilee Arbor at the Carson House. Martha Jordan, the new executive director for the Carson House, said during that week, all eighth-graders and fourth-graders from the public schools in McDowell County will get to tour the historic house and museum. They will also get to see and participate in living history presentations and view special displays when they visit.
On Monday, the commissioners approved a proclamation about the anniversary celebration, which will be read aloud during the celebration.