Bevin Corbin: Helping to make the festivities pop

Published 11:30 pm Sunday, July 5, 2015



By Mark Schmerling

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Food, family fun and fireworks on the fourth will make Columbus rock Saturday.


The town’s 53rd annual Fabulous 4th of July Festival offers that and plenty more.


As Columbus Town Clerk Devon Gosnell points out, “This is not just a Columbus event. Anyone beyond Polk County is welcome to attend.”


Except for food items and carnival rides, everything is free.


Beginning with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by Karen Lawrence at 10 a.m., the festival offers events for the entire family through the conclusion of the fireworks display, past 10 p.m.


Lawrence, a member of the women’s auxiliaries of American Legion Post 250 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9116, will also sing the songs of all the service branches.


The American Legion’s tent will be located at the intersection of Gibson Street and Hwy. 108, while the VFW tent will be near the House of Flags Museum.


From 12-1 p.m., Columbus’s Bevin Corbin, a retired US Army veteran (28-plus years), commander of Polk County Honor Guard, and a member of the Fabulous Fourth Committee, will lead the Veterans’ Honor Presentation on the meaning of Independence Day, including patriotism, flag etiquette, the Honor Guard and community contributions by the American Legion and VFW organizations. The presentation will also include patriotic songs, a brass band, patriotic history and symbolism.


Corbin is also commander of Legion Post 9116.


Highlights of activities throughout the day include carnival rides on Stearns’ lawn, across Mills Street from the Polk County Courthouse; an antique car show on Gibson Street (Anyone can enter; People’s Choice awards will be presented); music (from 10 a.m. to about 9:45 p.m.); a three-on-three basketball tournament at Stearns’ Gym; and of course, the annual fireworks display at 9:45 p.m.


Carnival rides will be available for kids of all ages.


This year’s fireworks display “will be more exciting,” promised Corbin, noting that the number of fireworks would be the same, but duration will be a bit shorter. Lasting about  30 minutes, he says the show will provide more intensity than in the past.


Gosnell said that many individuals view the fireworks from the courthouse lawn, looking toward the north.


Lots of good food will be available, Corbin noted. Gosnell added that diverse food choices from vendors will include Asian, barbecue, burgers, lemonade, and funnel cakes. In addition, ice cream can be purchased at the VFW Post 9116 location in front of the House of Flags Museum on Gibson Street. Of course, the museum will be open.


The music and event schedule is as follows: 10 a.m. Star Spangled Banner; 10:10 a.m. Joyful Noise; 11 a.m. Patrick Ballard; 12 p.m. Veterans Honor Presentation; 1 p.m. Michael Crisp; 2 p.m. EMS/First Responder awards; 2:30 p.m. Shades of Time; 3:45 p.m. Crescent Moon Blues; 5 p.m. Rock and Roll Reunion; 6:15 p.m. Loaded Toad; 7:30 p.m. Silver Travis; 8:40 p.m. Project X; 9:42 p.m. Star Spangled Banner, followed by the fireworks beginning at 9:45 p.m.

Throughout the celebration, emergency medical and law enforcement services will be available. Rescue personnel will host a misting tent, where individuals can receive relief from the heat.


“Basically, all emergency services will be readily available,” Corbin pointed out.


Handicap parking will be available outside Womack Building by way of Ward Street. From 5 a.m. through post-festival cleanup, Mills Street (Hwy. 108) will be blocked from Walker through Peak Streets. NC Dept. of Transportation personnel will post signs for traffic control. General parking is available outside that zone, with many drivers opting to park at the Food Lion shopping center and nearby.


No event of this type would get off the ground without a large corps of volunteers who began working on this year’s event within weeks of last year’s Fourth of July.


Columbus’s Fabulous Fourth committee includes, in addition to Corbin and Gosnell, Beth Corbin (Bevin Corbin’s wife), Mark Phillips, Ernie Kahn, Bobby Arledge, Lisa

Krolack, Kathy Nowakowsky, Deon Dunn and Paul Dale. Tim Barth, town administrator, serves as committee chair; Chris Beddingfield, Columbus’ chief of police lends his expertise, and James Smith handles electrical set-up.


“We’re kind of like an amoeba,” admitted Gosnell of the committee, adding that each member has found an area where they can specialize and help the whole.


“We’ve just kind of migrated into them (those niches),” she added.


Some components of the Fabulous Fourth celebration have changed since its inception, but the basic mix of fun, food music and patriotism is essentially unchanged.


One former activity absent these days is the tricycle parade. The chess tournament, which had been a pretty consistent feature, according to Gosnell, won’t be held this year, but, she added, “Hopefully, we can resume that.”


“Still,” Gosnell added, “the core value is a family-friendly event.”


Corbin related how organizers received a great compliment during last year’s celebration, from someone who felt safe letting her children be on their own.


“It’s a very safe environment,” Corbin emphasized. “It’s very family-oriented. That’s what we try to do.”


At one point, certificates of recognition will be presented to representatives of nearby fire and rescue departments, to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, and to representatives of police departments.


A few restrictions apply to the celebration. They include a ban on open beverage containers and no alcohol sales at the festival (Those restrictions do not apply to local restaurants). Pets are not allowed, except for service animals.


Containers will be available for recyclable materials.


“Cleanup is volunteer. Anybody’s welcome,” Corbin smiled.