By: Diana Matthews
A.C. Cutler, organizer of the first N.C. Honey Festival, reports that plans are coming together well for this weekend.
Central Missionary Baptist Church will host the Charity Pancake Supper Friday from 5 to 8:30 p.m. The church is at 443 W. Virgil St. Proceeds will benefit Central Middle School’s Future Farmers of America.
Tickets are available for $5 at the school. Sponsors of the dinner are Hills Foods and the Columbus County Youth and Families Association. “Hills is where I had my first job,” said Cutler, who now runs a web design company in Greensboro. “That makes it special.” And CCYFA’s Rhonda Bullard-Dutton “has been hugely instrumental in mobilizing people.”
The Columbus County Farmers Market and the Columbus County Beekeepers’ Association are providing portions of the dinner, and the Whiteville High School girls’ tennis and basketball teams will volunteer.
“Two other groups I have to mention are the Tabor City Buzz Committee and the town of Chadbourn,” he said.
Tabor City’s Dianne Ward and Rachel Todd have assisted Cutler with promotion; Cutler hopes for the newly-named Bee City to have a presence at the festival.
Gail Williamson of Chadbourn has given Cutler the benefit of her experience putting on a pancake supper for the Strawberry Festival. Her suggestions about “processes and resources” have been helpful to Cutler.
“We’re looking for a good turnout, and then for that energy to carry over to the festival,” said Cutler.
Exhibits and vendor booths will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. along three blocks of South Madison Street in downtown Whiteville. Honey, farm produce, bee-themed arts and crafts, and products made from beeswax or pollen will be for sale. Cutler looks forward to introducing participants to innovative and surprising products.
At The Chef and The Frog, patrons 21 years of age and older may try Starrlight Mead (honey wine), bottled in Pittsboro, N.C.
Cutler also has plans to educate and entertain all ages. In addition to seeing bees at work in their hives and talking to expert beekeepers, the public can take part in special activities inside the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville. There will be a “Kids’ Zone” fun area and a DJ.
Master Gardeners from Lumberton will be on hand to teach bee-friendly gardening practices.
The Bee-a-Blessing silent auction, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will benefit Families First Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services. Cutler is still accepting donated items for the auction; his phone number is 445-1065.
Unless weather is unsafe, indoor and outdoor portions of the festival are expected to continue “rain or shine,” said Cutler. Most of the exhibitors and vendors will be under tents. Updates of all festival plans will be available on the festival’s facebook page.