PILOT MOUNTAIN — A full day of celebration and activities is planned at Pilot Mountain State Park.
On Saturday the park — along with parks across the state — will hold a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the North Carolina state park system.
Park Ranger Jesse Anderson said at Pilot Mountain a slate of events will keep folks of all ages busy throughout the day.
At 8 a.m. the centennial celebration will kick off with a lesson of history — one in which many folks from Surry County may find their roots. According to Anderson, the program will last until about 9:30 a.m. and will include a presentation about Moravian settlement history and a performance by a Moravian brass band.
Anderson said some folks living in Surry County and the surrounding area can trace their roots to Moravian settlers who travelled south from northeastern states along the Great Wagon Road in the mid-1700s. They used Pilot Mountain as a reference point on their journey.
Salem, now Winston-Salem, was one of the first three settlements in the Royal Colony of North Carolina.
Anderson said the brass band performance will resemble a Moravian church ceremony, with special attention paid to the instruments and history behind them.
After the Moravian celebration kids will take their rods and reels to the fishing hole. Anderson said a fishing derby at the newest addition to the park is planned. It begins at 10 a.m. and should wrap up at about 2 p.m.
The derby will be held at a pond located at the park’s new Pilot Creek Access. A pond on Boyd Nelson Road has been stocked with catfish, according to Anderson. One can access the pond by turning south on Shoals Road from N.C. 268. and turning left after about 0.75 miles onto Boyd Nelson Road. The pond is on the right.
Anderson said children of all ages are welcomed, and no fishing license is required for youths. There will be prizes such as tackle-boxes and rods. Fishing rods, tackle and bait will also be available for use.
Saturday’s afternoon weather forecast is looking a bit grim, according to Anderson. There’s an 80 percent chance of rain after 3 p.m., but that won’t keep the Friends of Sauratown Mountain from leading the next portion of the day’s activities.
The Friends group, which supports operations at Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain State Parks, will lead a hike along the park’s Mountain Trail. It begins at 2 p.m. and should conclude at about 5 p.m.
Anderson said the Mountain Trail is the newest trail at the park. The moderate difficulty trail wraps around the base of the mountain and is a six-mile hike round-trip. Hikers should meet at the park office with appropriate footwear and water to take part in the hike.
At 6 p.m. more music is planned at the park. An old-tyme dolcimer band will perform at the summit parking lot. Should rainy weather be a factor, Anderson said the performance will be relocated to a picnic pavilion.
After a performance lasting about 90 minutes, there will be an educational program.
Anderson said the program will include a history of the state’s parks system. Those at the program will use a compass to locate other parks visible from Pilot Mountain, while park staff explain the significance of each of those parks.
Inclimate weather may threaten the final event of the night. Anderson said the Forsyth Astronomical Association is planning to set up telescopes for a stargazing event which will run from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m. Planets, stars and other deep-space objects will be visible if weather permits.
Anderson said the call as to whether the stargazing event will take place will occur closer to Saturday. However, the show will go on — rain or shine — for all other events.
The park ranger said he’s hoping to see a great turnout for Saturday’s events.
“We’ve really tried to pull together a set of programs which hit home for many people,” explained Anderson. “Local people should really find the history interesting, and the fishing derby should appeal to children.”
For more information or to check on the status of the stargazing program call the park office at 325-2355.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.