Taylortown Day Expands Into Weekend of Festivities
Taylortown Day is — for the first time — three days this year.
It’s a weekend festival celebrating the history, culture and people of a community founded by Demus Taylor, a man born a slave.
Town Clerk Carolyn Mitchell doesn’t know how long her community has had a Taylortown Day, but said it has been more than at least 25 years. This year marks her 24th as manager, and there’s been a parade every Labor Day weekend Saturday as long as she’s been at the job.
“I can’t even remember how long it has been going on,” she said. “For two years we’ve started on Friday with a banquet. It is a three-day festival for the first time now, because this year we added a Sunday morning service in the park.”
A Labor Day weekend setting with that extra day off work means people can come from far away, making it back to their hometown to renew acquaintances and get together with friends they haven’t seen since the last time, she says.
That Friday night banquet is more than a dinner. It is a full evening of entertainment, this year at the Elks Club in Southern Pines.
“It is wonderful. I always enjoy that banquet,” Mitchell said. “We dress up and have a whole lot of fun. There is a lot of talent, the fashion show, a presentation on the town’s history. Josephine Faulk is directing the fashion show. Awards are given. Then the dance is after the program. Rose Highland-Sharpe is going to emcee this year. It’s not just one thing I en-joy; it’s the entire gamut.”
Saturday starts with the traditional Taylortown Day parade, which winds around the curve and down through the middle of town past the shops to finish at Town Hall. There will be music, food and fun as friends crowd Taylortown to cheer and chat with chums.
“Lots of people come back, especially since we started having the banquet,” Mitchell said.
Demus Taylor was the grandson of one of the first African slaves brought to the New World — a descendant of the Western African tribe known as Ebu.
In the early 1900s Taylor founded the community next to Pinehurst on land he bought from the Tufts family to build homes for the work force for Pinehurst’s hotels and golf courses. The town, first called Old Settlement, was later renamed in his honor.
For many years, Taylortown was known as home to caddies, cooks, maids, groundskeepers and other workers at the growing resort that became world-renowned for its golf.
Robert Taylor, the son of Demus Taylor, at one time ran a little cafe that served as a gathering spot for the community. He also helped found a school for the settlement’s children. This school would become known as Academy Heights. A newer facility near the original school is also known as Academy Heights and was a year-round school and the highest performing school in the county system until budget issues forced its closure.
Today Taylortown, with a population of about 900, is a town with a strong sense of community. The town reflects the legacy of its founder as well as the courage and leadership of all who have come since. This weekend, it honors them all.
The Friday night banquet costs $25 for a ticket. Call Joann Faulkner at (910) 295-0423 for information on tickets.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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