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By Charlotte Smith

The Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce announced a Ribbon Cutting being held at Jones Lake at 2 pm to kick off the Year of the Trail Festival. The Year of the Trail Festival is part of the statewide celebration of trails. Enjoy Mother Nature’s Playground here in Bladen County by participating in the many events the Chamber has announced on its website. 

The ribbon cutting was held at Coast Crest, section 13, of the Mountains to the Sea Trail. Ben Jones with MTS and other members of MTS explained to those in attendance the trail. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a simple footpath stretching almost 1,200 miles across North Carolina from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks. Jones said they are always looking for volunteers. For more information about MTS, visit their website, https://mountainstoseatrail.org/the-trail/.

The Year of the Trail Festival starts Friday, February 17, and goes through Sunday, February 19, 2023.

North Carolina Senator for District 9, Brett Jackson, was at the Ribbon Cutting ceremony for the festival and is a proud supporter of the State Parks. “I’m glad I have two State Parks in my district now. They are great assets.”

“This is a good crowd,” Chamber Executive Director Terri Dennison said as she introduced everyone. 

Stephanie Barnhill Neal, with Urban Fringe, a publication dedicated to arts and culture, brought her daughter along to explore the trails and obtain some content for her media platform. Her child collected leaves as Neal collected photos and quotes. 

Before leaving the Ribbon Cutting, Dennison reminded those in attendance about the “Inviting More Unity to the Outdoor Community and Beyond” – campfire conversations with Black Folks Camp Too founder Earl B. Hunter Jr. The campfire will start at 5:30 pm on Fridayat Cape Fear Farmers Market located at 106 MLK Drive in Elizabethtown. 

Shane Freeman, Jones Lake State Park Superintendent, said the weather would be nice, and he expects a significant turn out for the festival this weekend. 

Check out the weekend festival’s itinerary on the chamber’s website linked here: https://elizabethtownwhitelake.com/2023-year-of-the-trail/yot_weekend/