PEMBROKE — With a menu ranging from flu shots to shoes, about 4,500 people and more than 100 local vendors bought, sold and came together as a community during the 24th annual Pembroke Day at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke on Wednesday.
The event is held every year by the Pembroke Area Chamber of Commerce and the university. During the event, the organizations provided a free hot dog lunch, door prizes and entertainment.
Pembroke Mayor Milton Hunt was part of the planning committee for the first Pembroke Day in 1988. He said it was started as a way strengthen the bond between local folks and the university.
“We hope that folks will come out and see something to get involved in,” Hunt said.
Student groups held fundraisers at the event and told visitors about their roles on campus. Local businesses sold homemade goods, food, jewelry and other items, and local nonprofits raised money and told visitors about their work in the community.
The Shoe Gallery, a store in Lumberton, was one of the vendors at the event. Denise Goings. pastor of Tabernacle Christian Center, owns the store, and members of the community come in to help her. Much of the money earned goes to local charities, including women’s shelters, food banks and youth groups.
According to Danyce Hill, who volunteers at the store, The Shoe Gallery is close to Biggs Park Mall but many people don’t know it’s there. Pembroke Day gave her a chance to advertise, especially to students.
“They come to class in summer, spring or fall wearing heels, and I know I was a student here. We’re trying to cater to them,” Hill said.
Music was provided by UNCP student groups such as the Spirit of the Carolinas March Band, the student jazz ensemble and the choir.
Local beauty pageant winners attended the event, including Miss Lumbee Alexis Locklear. Along with being a native of the community, Locklear is a UNCP student in the Mass Communication and English departments. She is a frequent visitor of Pembroke Day.
“It becomes my entire family, my school family and my community family together,” Locklear said.
A health fair was held during Pembroke Day, during which 40 health organizations gave free health screenings and flu shots.
According to Scott Bigelow, a public communications specialist for UNCP, the health fair grows every year.
“If it weren’t such an important event with a lot of success, it would’ve died an early death …. It brings the town and community together, and free food doesn’t hurt either,” Bigelow said.