LUMBERTON — Lumberton is ready to greet spring this weekend when the annual Rumba on the Lumber returns.
Organizers of the 12th annual event say that the festival will offer plenty of fun and entertainment for folks of all ages.
“This is a great event for Lumberton,” said Scott Billingsley, president of the Robeson Road Runners, which oversees the overall organization of the festival. “I’ve lived in Lumberton eight and a half years, and this is the event that really drew me into the community.”
Organizers expect a crowd of about 5,000 people to flock to the downtown area to participate in the day’s activities. But they might want to cross their fingers. The Saturday forecast as of today calls for a chance of rain, although the 72-degree temperature looks good.
“I hope it doesn’t rain. I’ve heard the forecast for rain is down to about 30 percent,” said James Grainger, the festival organizer in charge of the the Rumba’s Bud Light North of the Border Chili Festival. “But rain or shine, we go on.”
The festival kicks off today with a pasta party from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Bill Sapp Center. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Kids under 12 can eat for $5.
Proceeds from the pasta party go to the Lumber River Soccer Association.
On Saturday, registration for the Family Fun Mile, sponsored by Southeastern Regional Medical Center and Community Health Services’ Project H.E.A.L.T.H., and the Lumberton Radiological Associates-sponsored 5K race, will take place beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the site of the former Black Water Grille.
The Fun Mile begins at 10 a.m. and the 5K begins at 11 a.m.
“There are 300 to 400 runners who will participate in the 5K,” Billingsley said. “They are coming from all over.”
New this year, Billingsley said, are two events for cyclists. The first, beginning about 10:30 a.m., is a family bike ride that will start on Chestnut Street and follow the same one-mile course as the Fun Mile.
The second event, targeting more serious cyclists, is a 20-mile ride that starts on Chestnut Street at about 12:30 p.m. The route, which is a loop, will take riders out to the county line and bring them back to the Robeson County Public Library on Chestnut Street.
“We have a growing number of cyclists in the area,” Billingsley said. “We think the addition of these events will be good for the festival.”
The ever popular Bud Light North of the Border Chili Festival will be held on Water Street, Billingsley said. The event, which offers those at the festival a chance to sample all the entries their taste buds desire for $5, is sponsored by R.A. Jeffrey’s Distributing Company, and proceeds will go to the Lumberton Football Association.
Grainger said that there are 28 teams registered for the chili cook off. There will be 16 overall prizes awarded to the cooking teams, including best overall chili, strangest ingredient, and best chili made by a public service organization.
Grainger said that while people are sampling chili in Chili Town they will be entertained with music performed by the Carolina Breakers.
Billingsley said that there will be plenty of food and musical entertainment provided throughout the day. Arts and crafts vendors will be located in the parking lot of the Robeson County Courthouse, he said, and activities and games for children will once again be provided in the Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation Kids Zone, located in the downtown plaza.
Billingsley said that after all expenses are paid, proceeds from the overall festival will be going to the Robeson County United Way. He said the money will be used by the United Way to support the upcoming “Dancing with the Stars” event being held to raise funds for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which provides a free book monthly to children age 5 and younger.
According to Billingsley, proceeds from the event usually total between $10,000 and $20,000. Last year, proceeds went to the Lumberton Rescue and Emergency Services and the Robeson County Humane Society.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or email@example.com.