LUMBERTON — Robeson County celebrates its 225th birthday Thursday with a party that county officials are hoping will draw several thousand.
“This is going to be a big event,” County Manager Ricky Harris said. “The county, city of Lumberton, and all of the towns in the county have been asked to participate. Everybody is involved. We’re getting a good response.”
Once part of Bladen County, Robeson County was established in 1787. It was named for Colonel Thomas Robeson, who is credited with being a hero of the Revolutionary War Battle of Elizabethtown.
Robeson, the state’s largest county with 948 square miles, is still known by many as “The State of Robeson.” According to “A Brief History of Robeson County” by Blake Tyner, curator of the Robeson County History Museum, the county has continued to be referred to as “The State of Robeson” not only because of its size but because of the fierce independence and reliance of its people, characteristics exhibited by Robesonians over the years.
According to Tyner, the county is “truly tri-racial,” reflected by its populations of American Indians, blacks and the descendants of white Scottish and European settlers who came to the area before and during the American Revolution.
“Over the centuries, these people have worked together to create a culturally diverse community,” Tyner said.
This cultural diversity is certain to be evident at Thursday’s celebration, say county officials, who point to the event as offering something for every member of the family.
According to Charles Britt, an assistant county manager who along with Harris co-chairs the party’s organizing committee, county officials thought this is a good year to celebrate the county’s history because it coincides with the 125th anniversary of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
“We thought these events would go good together,” Britt said.
The party, with a theme of “Celebrating 225 years of a Rich History,” is being held from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the county’s Department of Social Services Complex off N.C. 711, just west of Lumberton.
Britt said that one of the event’s highlights will be the planting of a time capsule. Towns and county offices have been asked to submit items to be placed in the capsule, he said.
“I’m not sure if the capsule is going to be opened in 25 or 50 years,” Britt said. “It probably will be opened in 25 years since that’s when the county will be celebrating its 250th birthday.”
According to party organizers, those attending the event will be entertained by musical groups, including the local band Dark Water Rising. There will also be an antique tractor show; historical booths; booths providing information about the history of county municipalities; honor guards; fire trucks; and helicopters from the N.C. Forestry Service and UNC Air Care.
Children will have the opportunity to enjoy a ride on a small train, play in inflatable bouncy houses, and participate in 4-H children’s hands-on-activities.
There also will be plenty of free hamburgers, hot dogs and cake.
Britt said that those attending the party will learn a lot about the county’s past.
“This county has come a long way,” he said.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6177, or firstname.lastname@example.org.