News has reached this “Hometown” news desk from Down East that they’re closing down the long-running National Hollerin’ Contest in Spivey’s Corner.
Guess they just couldn’t compete with this year’s presidential campaign.
No, sorry, I made that up. I couldn’t help myself.
No, actually, contest organizers say the annual fundraiser for the crossroads community’s fire department in Sampson County, on the way to Wilmington, has been losing money and interest is on the wane. Too bad I never got to enter a couple of family members.
I’ve never been to the Hollerin’ Contest but I’ve seen videos on TV, and probably you have as well. Contestants get up on a stage and, well, holler. A few winners over the years have made it into the national spotlight with guest TV appearances.
Begun in 1969, the contest is reminiscent of the days before telephones when folks sometimes had to holler to communicate. Holler for the kids. Holler to neighbors. Holler to the pigs way back in the days when they’d let pigs roam in the mountains and forage for chestnuts. Many contest hollers were hog calls.
When they cut the roadbed for a new segment of Highway 21 in State Road in the late 1950s they sliced a deep cut through a hill and cut through what is now called Ambrose Creek Road. They cut off our house from our next-door neighbors.
Mom found herself isolated from her friend Mrs. Lowe. She didn’t have a telephone, so every few days Mom would stand on the west side of the road bank and Mrs. Lowe would be on the east and they’d holler across the chasm to catch up on important topics of the day. Visiting face-to-face required a long detour, so for just a chat they’d holler.
Ironically, they’re ending the Hollerin’ Contest at a time when folks are hollering at each other more and more. About politics. Race. Sports.
On opinion TV and talk radio they feature people from different camps who are brought in to argue before the cameras and/or microphones for entertainment and ratings. Hollering is preferred.
On the internet people holler, not by shouting across Highway 21 or across a TV studio table, but in online posts and posters and sharing headlines from news sources mainline or otherwise.
For instance, look at how rotten that politician is, according to this hollering internet message. Look at how rotten is the opponent, another says.
One of the more inventive posts involved sports and showed a video of of Harambe, the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla. He was all in the news a few weeks ago after a toddler tragically fell into his zoo enclosure.
The video had the face of NBA basketball star Stephen Curry superimposed onto Harambe’s head. And you see Curry dragging his NBA Finals chief opponent LeBron James, whose face was superimposed onto the head of the toddler. Ouch.
At least the sports taunts are more or less harmless. But the hollerin’ over politics and race and other serious topics is growing louder and more alarming.
Our disunited nation is arguing more and more and accomplishing less and less. I call on folks to tone it down and instead start offering some smart solutions to our problems.
However, nobody is listening to me. Maybe I need to HOLLER!
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.
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