A Hollerin’ Contest in Sampson County

Hollerin' Contest spectator, Spivey's Corner, NC, June 20, 1970. Image from State Archives

A Hollerin’ Contest spectator in 1970. Image from State Archives

On June 28, 1969, the first National Hollerin’ Contest was held in Spivey’s Corner in Sampson County.

The contest is the product of the farm culture of the Sandhills region. Before the advent of the telephone, yelling loudly, or hollering, was the primary way farmers and neighbors communicated in rural North Carolina. As new technologies made communication easier, the practice began to disappear.

The idea for the contest grew out of a conversation on a local radio program. The contest’s two goals were to preserve agricultural heritage and attract tourists to a struggling region. Though Spivey’s Corner only had about 50 residents in 1969, the first contest attracted between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors and garnered national media attention from North Carolina’s own Charles Kuralt and others. The contest’s first winner was 70-year-old Dewey Jackson. For his prize-wining rendition of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” Jackson earned an appearance on The Tonight Show and a congratulatory letter from President Richard Nixon.

The annual contest continues to draw large crowds to rural Sampson County and has expanded to a full day of family events.

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