Vass Kicks Off Centennial Celebration
When Pinehurst and Southern Pines were still fledgling resort communities, Vass was claiming its own stake in the Sandhills.
Originally known as Bynum, the area was named for one of its first settlers, Joseph Bynum. As early as 1881, a post office was established, and the community was then called Winder.
In 1892, the name was changed to Vass in honor of Major William Worral Vass. The town was incorporated on March 8, 1907, with Alex Gunther as its first mayor.
Vass held a chili cook-off and other events Saturday to kick off a year-long celebration of the town's centennial.
With 11 teams preparing special recipes, the cook-off was held at Sandy Ramey Keith Park on the corner of Vass-Carthage Road and U.S. 1.
Competing teams included the Vass Lions Club, Vass Rescue Squad, Heritage Church of God, Vass Woman's Club; Circle V Fire Department, Vass American Legion Post 296; the Town of Vass Board of Commissioners; Boy Scout Troop 810, Harmer's Auction and Antique Mall; and Open Arms Community Church.
Other activities included demonstrations by the Circle V Fire Department and Rescue Squad, an antique auto exhibit, antique wagon exhibit, games for children, face painting, and music supplied by Lester Seidenberg, a theatrical sound technician. Of course, the music selections-- ragtime standards by the likes of Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, Tom Turpin and Otis Saunders -- took participants back to 1907.
Another feature brought 1907 alive for visitors to the cook-off: refreshment prices. One of the event's organizers, Vass Lions Club member Carl Giambelluca, says hot dogs, soda, cotton candy and popcorn were sold for a nickel.
"We're not doing this to raise money," he says, adding that sponsors like Aberdeen Coca Cola Bottling, Piggly Wiggly, First Bank of Vass, Mountain Clear, and Progress Energy made the 1907 prices possible.
While Vass was officially incorporated on March 8, 1907, Mayor Eddie Callahan read a proclamation declaring 2007 the town's centennial year.
"We're really excited," Callahan says. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we're trying to make the most of it.
"Vass has been kind of overlooked and bypassed, literally. We want to be back on the map as a desirable place to be, and this will be a good start for it."
The U.S. 1 bypass, completed in time for the U.S. Open in 2005, "took away a little bit economically," Callahan says. "But most of our business patrons are local, anyway. I don't really think it had that great an effect, overall."
Ultimately, Callahan hopes to profit by the convenience of the bypass.
"I think it will offer really good opportunities down the road," he says. "We're just 45 minutes from the Triangle and easily 25 minutes from Fayetteville. We're primed for some growth, and with the base realignment (BRAC), we can be a player in that game. We're hoping to use this event as a springboard to something prosperous for the whole community and the outlying area as well."
Other events to commemorate the town's centennial -- a golf tournament in early summer, and perhaps an Oktoberfest in the fall -- are planned throughout the year.
Vass will dedicate its new Town Hall in early June. The event will include an ice cream social and tours of the new facility.
Built with a $600,000 low-interest, 30-year loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the new 5,600-square-foot municipal building will feature a community room that could accommodate as many as 120 residents.
"For 10 years, we've been talking about the need for a community center," says Town Administrator Jody Smith. "We're hoping to have as many citizens using it as we can get in there."
The facility will also have a kitchen located off the community room, as well as a staging and pickup point for the town's Meals on Wheels program.
Smith says the Vass Police Department may be the most anxious to move into the new facility, however.
"The police chief will have his own office now, and the police will have their own room, with an evidence room and processing room," Smith says. "They used to be crammed into one room, and the evidence was kept in a closet. And now there's room to expand the Police Department if they need to."
Located at 104 S. Alma St., with a total budget of $884,085, the building was designed by Huckethorn Architects and is being built by O'Connor General Contractors.
Mary Griffin can be reached at 693-2482 or by mgriffin@the
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