LUMBERTON — The slight chill in the weather and the gray skies did little to dampen the warm spirits of the crowd that filled downtown Lumberton on Saturday during the 14th annual Rumba on the Lumber.
In fact, the weather was perfect for a run and some chili.
“Once I get the adrenaline pumping and watch the people running next to me, that will warm me up,” said David Leek, a Pembroke resident and former member of the Robeson Road Runners, which helped organize the event. Leek joined hundreds of others in the Rumba’s staple event, the Southeastern Health 5K Run.
“The people lining up on the sides and cheering for you during the race,” he said. “That’s something good you can’t get anywhere else.”
Most of the competitors were layered up with gloves and jackets. Julius Kogo, a student at The University of North Carolina, completed the race first, with a time of 14:09, and his friend Kiprono Kurgat was next across the finish line, 26 seconds later.
Other events included a bicycle ride, the Southeastern Health Family Fun Mile, the popular Bud Light Chili Cook-Off and an arts and crafts show featuring items ranging from handmade baskets to homemade candles.
Janette Fernandez drove from Sunset Beach to sell homemade bath products shaped as cupcakes and candy bars. Fernandez, a graphic designer, got the inspiration for her products from making chocolate with her grandmother.
“I’m just hoping for a good turnout and good feedback from people,” Fernandez said.
This is her first year selling her wares at the Rumba.
The Lumbee River EMC Kidz Zone at the downtown fountain attracted children who enjoyed carousel rides, trampoline bungee jumps and rock walls.
The Chili Cook-Off gave people the chance to warm themselves up with freshly made chili while being entertained by the Carolina Breakers Band.
“You get to sample all these different things they put into the chili,” said Billye Ammons, who picked the judges for this year’s cook-off. “One year they had yak.”
Lumberton Rescue & EMS won the award for “strangest ingredient” — crickets — in a chili recipe.
Ammons previously cooked in the competition.
“My team won in the first-ever Chili Cook-Off,” Ammons said. “We were called the Legal Lip Remover, representing the Rotary Club of Lumberton.”
Ammons said the event offers more than a good time.
“I think it’s a good thing for the community to come together,” Ammons said. “It’s a family thing — my husband is here with me and my son is helping out as a visual judge.”
The Chili Cook-Off awards winners in various categories, including decorations. Grady Pardue, his son Matthew and friend David Edge made up the team called Jamaican Jerks. The team had its booth set up with Jamaican flags, and hauled in sand to portray a warm, island-like feeling.
“We bring the beach to you,” said Pardue, who wore fake dreadlocks attached to a beanie.
The trio first took part in the Chili Cook-Off in 2009.
Jamaican Jerks won the award for “Best Tasting Chili.” Pardue described the team’s chili as “sweet and spicy” — and had no hesitation about giving away the winning ingredient.
“Banana. You put it last with brown sugar and it gives you the sweet taste before the heat …,” he said.
As many as 18 businesses, organizations and individuals took part in this year’s cook-off.
“I’m most looking forward to the fundraising,” said Robert Main, a Richlands resident who participated for the first time. “Today’s chili fits the weather.”
Money raised during the event supports various organizations, including the Lumber River Soccer Association, the Lumberton Football Association and the Robeson County History Museum.