By Mariel Gambino
July 5, 2013. At 6 p.m. on Friday, July 5, the town of Newland kicks off the celebration of the town’s 100th birthday. The festival continues until dark on Friday, and starts again Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
Newland holds the highest county seat east of the Rockies in elevation. Once a flat and desolate plot of land, Newland is now full of rich heritage and history, with stories of daring men fighting off wildlife in the newly assembled town, a bank robbery in the 1940’s that made national headlines and the destructive flood of 1940 and two town-wide fires in 1941 and 1961.
Newland boasts a deep-rooted history that extends to July of 1913, when the Old Fields of Toe officially became the town of Newland.
Town residents, history buffs and citizens of the High County are welcome to begin the festival Friday night on the Riverwalk. This part of the celebration will last until dark. The Tams, a fresh and exciting band that is popular in the Newland area, will perform a shag concert. People attending are invited to participate in an old fashioned street dance and watch fireworks to end the night.
At 10 a.m. on Saturday the Newland town square opens booths, tents, vendors, the Civil War Enactment Camp and the Avery County Museum.
Lineup for the parade also begins at 10 a.m. in front of the Lowes Foods in Newland. Sheriff Frye leads the parade, with the VWF honor guard, Ella Markland on the bagpipes, VWF Ladies Auxiliary, Shriner’s, five Centenarians, at least 14 Mt. Laurel Pageant winners dating back to 1947, the Newland Alumni Group, Town of Newland, Martha Hicks from the Avery Board of Commissioners, former Avery County schools superintendent Grace Calhoun, many old and new businesses and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Following the parade, the Katydids perform at 11:45 a.m. Speakers and recognition ceremonies begin after the small concert. Various town celebrities will speak during this time.
Five 100-year-old citizens are recognized along with the Mt. Laurel Pageant Queens. The next musical performance is the Avery County High School Marching band at 1 p.m.
At 4 p.m. the Newland Fire Department holds their annual Harley Davidson Raffle. The Kenny Johnson Band follows and the Katydids are the last musical performance for the night. Just be sure to look out for an Elvis sighting around 6:30!
Genealogists, the heritage festival and historical society are on hand to help citizens of Newland. With the assistance of these societies, attendees can learn the history of the area, how far their own family extends throughout western NC and more about the buildings and businesses that helped form Newland as a town.