History, heritage featured in Norlina and Oxford on Saturday

Sep. 13, 2013 @ 08:23 PM

Communities less than 30 miles apart along the Interstate 85 corridor will play host to festive events today.

In Norlina, history is remembered with a Centennial Celebration. The celebration steps off at 10 a.m. with a parade and lasts until about 4 p.m.

In Oxford, the seventh annual N.C. Hot Sauce Festival envelops downtown between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Car shows are at each event, along with several exhibits, food and crafts. Activities for children will also be available.

Norlina’s parade begins at King Drive, uses U.S. 1 and ends at the Norlina Museum. Sears Bugg will be featured with a talk on trains at 11:30 a.m. The town calls itself “Where North Carolina begins” and the railway is intrinsically linked to that beginning.

Stephanie Wheeler, a Norlina native with several gold medals as a part of Team USA’s wheelchair basketball program, is part of the opening ceremonies at 11.

Kaine Riggan, born and raised in Kittrell, performs at the museum at 3 p.m. He’s an accomplished musician and theater producer, with talents in country and bluegrass music.

Finding items to purchase in Oxford won’t be difficult. Plants, arts and a bazaar will be available, as well as plenty of tasty hot sauces. The event has come a long way since Julia Overton’s idea of promoting North Carolina’s goodness got started at Stovall’s Gifts on Main Street.

The signature event is the pepper-eating contest, won or shared each of the last three years by Oxford’s Will Smith. Last year, he was just out of the hospital in time to swallow the victory.

Thinking the jalepeno is juiced? The heat index increases as the contest progresses, and the jalepeno is the third one up — in other words, just getting started.

The contest event begins at 1 p.m. on Littlejohn Street.