North Brunswick Chamber bringing Rice Festival to Belville in September

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By Brian Slattery

North Brunswick County will look to its history to create a new annual event.

The first Rice Festival is planned for September to recognize the cash crop that helped establish the county.

W.C. Lanier, owner Cape Fear Wildlife Expo, is organizing the two-day event with the North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce.

The festival will be held at the Brunswick Riverwalk at Belville park at 580 River Road, just across the street from Belville Elementary, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21.

“My wife and I were in Lake Charles, La., where they had a rice festival,” Lanier said, adding he learned of other festivals in rice states of Texas, Georgia and Arkansas.

“They grew a lot of rice in the Wilmington area. We thought maybe we could make people aware of it. They were growing a lot of rice here in the 1700s, there were as many as 64 plantations.”

Lanier provided an update on the plans for the festival at the June 23 Belville town meeting.

“This is something that can be unique to the area,” Lanier said.

He told the town officials they have the Rice Festival listed in AAA magazine and it is included in the magazines provided by Duke Power and Brunswick Electric Membership Co-op to spread the word on the new event.

“This rice festival is a good thing that will show the heritage of our region and also promote out town,” Belville Mayor Mike Allen said.

Lanier got involved in the organization of the event with the chamber through Dana Fisher. The two had worked together prior to Fisher becoming Executive Director of the chamber.

“I’ve known Dana a long time,” Lanier said.

“When we decided we wanted to do the event, we wanted to give back to the community. “So we joined the chamber and hope they can profit from the event,” Lanier said.

The chamber will sponsor a rice recipe contest.

“We will have a rice contest. (Competitors) can prepare at home either a rice and seafood, rice and meat, rice and vegetable or rice and dessert,” Lanier said.

“So there will be four categories.”

As part of the Rice Festival, Lanier said there will be a Youth Art Contest open to all the Brunswick County schools.

“The (participants) will have to do a little research so that it is reflected in their art about the rice history,” Lanier said.

Along with the Youth Art Contest there will be other arts and crafts, a children’s entertainment zone and music on each day.

The Imitations will perform from 1-5 p.m. Saturday.

The five-man group out of Wilmington sings live to a prerecorded music sound and light show that covers beach, soul and rock and roll hits from the likes of The Temptations, the Blues Brothers, the Beach Boys and Elvis.

On Sunday, the Unknown Tongues will perform Cajun Zydeco music from 1-5 p.m.

The Cajun-zydeco band, with a Carolina twist, has been performing Cajun and Zydeco music throughout North Carolina since 1990.

The event will also include a beer garden for the adults.

Organizers are seeking food vendors and arts and craft vendors.

“We are looking for vendors who sell a rice product, maybe some Jambalaya or shrimp creole. Or if we get some Chinese restaurants with rice dishes that would fit too.”

The entry fee is $5 per adult. Children 12 and under are free with a paying adult.

Free parking will be available at Belville Elementary.

For more information visit the festival website at www.ncricefestival.com or email ncricefestival@gmail.com.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.