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Festival draws over 20,000 for race, chili

By Hannah Simpson
Around the Town Editor

Drawing more than 1,700 people as participants of the famous 5k and Family Fun Run races alone, the 8th annual Rumba on the Lumber festival kicked off in high spirits March 5, with 40 chili teams in the Bud Light North of the Border Chili Cook-off and the opening of an art exhibit.

UNC-Pembroke’s own Athletic Director Dan Kenney finished first place for the 5k, a total of 3.1 miles, in the age 50-54 category with a time of 22:48.

The first, second and third place winners in each age category received a copy of a painting titled “Rumba on the Lumber” and depicts several runners racing through Lumberton.

The 5k, which had participants from across the state and South Carolina, began at 11 a.m. at the South Court Square in Lumberton and ended between Third and Fourth streets.

The 5k was reinstated by Maria Parker after a 19 year absence. According to a 2007 issue of the magazine Up & Coming, Parker was inspired to begin the race because of Robeson County’s high rate of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Lindsay Gold, 17, and Liz West, 17, both athletes at Lumberton High, said they ran for conditioning and training.

“We did it,” West said, laughing and breathless, noting that it was her first time participating in the 5k.

UNCP senior Joseph Waring, a health promotions major, volunteered for his first time handing out water after the race and removing chips from the bottom of participants’ shoes.

Waring said he wanted to support the race because it promoted a healthy lifestyle.

The Family Fun Run began at 10 a.m. in the plaza in downtown Lumberton. Families walked or ran in the contest, which was open to all age ranges.

The Bud Light North of the Border Chili Cook-off featured 40 themed booths offering original chili recipes to thousands of taste-testers.

Milling about the booths, festival goers were handed chili from hippies, leprechauns, disco skaters and even had the chance to try the work of “Ratatouille,” the rat chef from a summer 2007 children’s movie.

The Carolina Shaggers also served chili and offered entertainment, as members danced to beach music behind their booth.

The “Gold Rush” variety band jammed at the chili end of the festival, playing country, rock and oldies to the ever wandering crowd.

On the opposite side of the festival, in the Lumberton plaza, another variety band belted oldies as children played with plastic balls floating in the wading pool in the center of the plaza, throwing them across the small pool, startling unsuspecting passersby.

Vendors lined the streets, selling food, tie-dye clothes and bags, swords, dream catchers and inflatable toys. Two rock climbing walls stood erect against the sunny sky, buzzers echoing as an announcement that a climber had reached the top.

“Each year (the festival) gets better,” said Dr. Ed Powers, a professor in the business school at UNCP.

Dr. Powers said he attends the festival each year with his wife, Mary. Powers said this year the festival was larger and more spread out than in previous years.

The “Women at Work” exhibit opened in the Osterneck Auditorium the same weekend as a part of Rumba on the Lumber. It displayed 80 pieces from artists in Robeson County, all of which depicted working women.

This year, only one UNCP student participated in the show, compared to 10 students last year, Becky Thompson, the art show organizer, said. However, she said, more works from UNCP professors have made their way to the gallery this time around.

“We gathered (the artists) out of the woodwork,” Thompson said. The works in the gallery included paintings using oil, pencil and mixed media, as well as photography and clay works.

Forty percent of the sale from each piece will be donated to the Southeastern Family Violence Center, Thompson said. The art show debuted last year. Thompson said she plans to make it a permanent event for the Rumba on the Lumber.

The art show was sponsored by Southeastern Womensworks, the Robeson Arts Council and the Robeson County Friends of the Library.

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Updated: Thursday, March 13, 2008
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