Chalk Banks River Challenge, festival continues the fun

By: Cory Hughes - Focus on Scotland

As spring turns to summer, we are approaching the end of the spring festival season. Every year, as April and May come around, organizations conduct events and festivals throughout the county.

From Scotland Memorial Foundation’s annual FunD-Run-4-Life to Habitat for Humanity’s Bike to Build, those interested in a little exercise, fresh air, or simply an opportunity to gather with friends, have a spring weekend to enjoy. Complimenting those weekends was the Spring Art Festival which was held on Main Street a few weeks ago. One of the highlights of the day was the unveiling of the new sculptures at the Art Garden, accompanied by an introduction of the artists and their stories of the motivations which led to their creations.

Some festivals such as Laurel Fest held last weekend are ingrained in our community; others such as the art festival are new, but will surely take hold as they grow.

The common thread across all of these events is the incredible dedication and commitment of the scores of volunteers who plan and manage these gatherings. Knowing I would take up the remainder of this article providing names, I will simply defer to Kirsten Dean (FunD-Run), Chris Carpenter (Bike to Build), Erin Rembert and the city (Art Festival), and Billy Norris and Connie Coleman (Laurel Fest) to give “shout outs” to their staffs and the many volunteers that assist them.

Please appreciate these folks and their countless volunteers are only the tip of the iceberg. Year in and year out, friends and neighbors in Scotland County go above and beyond in supporting organizations and events making the community a better place. Often recognized nationally for United Way contributions, the support of St. Andrews, dedication to Parks and Recreation, etc., Scotland County is truly blessed to have so many people and organizations who support the community. It makes Laurinburg/Scotland County a very special place. Accordingly, as part of this column, we will start recognizing some of the individuals who, over time, have shown to go above and beyond. We will tell their story, thank them and provide them with an award – “The Honour of the Long Leaf Pine for Distinguished Service.” We will also provide them with a unique plaque being created by Beacham McDougald commemorating and recognizing their efforts, and our appreciation. Expect the first award in the next few weeks.

As I close, I will simply remind everyone this weekend brings one more fun-filled outing – the Chalk Banks Challenge and Water Festival. The fun will be held Saturday, May 20 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Chalk Banks Access Area – Lumber River State Park in Wagram.

Contestants may compete in raft, recreational canoe or kayak races, a 5K trail run, youth run, a men’s high heel sprint sponsored by Jerry’s Deli, and much more. This year, cash prizes will be awarded to the winners in many events including $150 for the first place in the raft race divisions.

A Scotland County tradition, raft races will be divided into two divisions: group (two or more people) youth and group adult. All rafts must be homemade and may not be motorized in any way. The day provides an opportunity to visit this beautiful state park and enjoy the fun. In addition to the events, the festival will also include kid’s games, inflatables, train rides, canoe rides, vendors and more.

Whit Gibson, chairman of the Lumber River State Park Citizens Advisory Committee, acknowledges the homemade raft race is the highlight of the day. “We always have over a dozen rafts compete,” Gibson said. “Now just because they start, doesn’t mean they finish. Therefore, before they start, we give out a number of honors including ‘most creative’ and ‘most embarrassing to your eighth-grade science teacher.’”

For information on the canoe & kayak races, please contact Mickey Turlington of the North Carolina Canoe Racing Association at 910-904-1578 or by email at For 5K information, contact Edward Locklear at For raft or overall event information, contact the Lumber River State Park at 910-628-4564 or email

We hope you have had an opportunity to enjoy the festivals over the past month. They truly contribute to the fabric of Laurinburg/Scotland County.

Cory Hughes

Focus on Scotland

Cory Huges, executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.

Cory Huges, executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.