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Festival Queen

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Judge C. Ashley Gore

Joan Ward to Chair N.C. Pecan Harvest Festival
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"I think if we stop learning, we get stagnant,” says Joan Ward, chair of the N.C. Pecan Harvest Festival. Ward credits festival pioneers Ginger Littrell, Sara Thompson and Suzanne King with teaching her and the rest of the festival committee how to be a "well-oiled machine.”

Last year’s N.C. PHF was about a month away when Hurricane Matthew brought severe damage to Columbus County, affecting individuals and businesses involved with the festival. The committee went forward with the yearly celebration. This year, says Ward, she is thankful to see the area "recovered to the extent it has since Matthew.”

No sooner was last year’s festival over than Ward called the team together to discuss how they could improve upon their success. "Every year is a learning process,” she said. "We learn from each year and try to do better.”

Ward already brought a wealth of experience to her position last year. A New Hope native, she graduated from Whiteville High School in 1987. After working 13 years at Columbus National Bank, "I came home to farm strawberries,” she said.

Ward and her husband Joe grow row crops in Columbus and Bladen counties.

Ward has earned academic credentials and degrees in nutrition, psychology and wellness. She is an elder in her church and is working toward certification as a yoga instructor.

Since last year’s festival, she has also succeeded Terri Edmund as chair of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, another position that requires her to coordinate the many activities of a large number of people.

This summer she joined with the Honey Hill Hunting Preserve to organize a fundraiser to fi ght breast cancer by promoting early detection. The Think Pink Aim for a Cure pheasant shoot will take place Saturday, Oct. 7 at the preserve. Four tower shoots will take place throughout the day, with the first at 8 a.m. Prospective participants should call 770-1991.

Leading the N.C. PHF in addition to all of her other pursuits is a major undertaking, but Ward praises her fellow committee members who coordinate home tours, a car show, a reception, a luncheon, a parade, a cooking contest, a 5K run/walk, dozens of vendors, stage entertainment and all the other features of the annual event.

"I cannot say enough positive things about the committee,” said Ward. "They are all very dedicated.

"We all want to improve the festival to benefi t Whiteville and Columbus County,” said Ward. She hopes to reunite a number of past festival queens, parade marshals, pecan belles and cadets at this year’s festival.

By Diana Matthews (dianamatthews@nrcolumbus.com)

Article and Images Courtesy of and as Published September 21, 2017 in The News Reporter www.NRColumbus.com


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Photos Courtesy of The News Reporter