History lies at the heart of the Jonesville Jubilee, which takes place the first weekend in May each year, although it has grown to encompass the entire body of the community.
Originally known as Old Jonesville Days, the Jubilee started as a historical carnival highlighting nearby churches. The festival was intended to bring awareness to and fund the Yadkin Valley History Center (YVHC).
Inspired by a 1987 visit to the Museum of the Great Plains, YVHC curator Charles Mathis has invested much of his life nourishing the preservation of local legacies.
“Charles is Mr. History,” said Jonesville Historical Society President Becky Wood.
Mathis explained that during a trip through the American West, he and his wife happened upon the museum by chance after making an impromptu stop for the night.
“We stopped at a hotel out in the boondocks, but about a block away was this magnificent museum,” said Mathis.
“It was about a city block and it was just magnificent and I said that’s what the Yadkin Valley needs — a museum of the great Yadkin Valley. That’s what got me started.”
After returning home, Mathis started working on a museum, which took more time and cooperation than anticipated, but eventually lead to the current YVHC, which needed a regular source of funding.
In 2003, then-mayor Delos Martin, who was also fond of history, joined with Mathis and his brother to create a festival celebrating the history of the town once known as Allan’s Settlement.
“Delos knew just what he wanted in Old Jonesville Day and he knew Charles and John were trying to do something,” said Edna Martin, widow of the former mayor and Jonesville Historical Society member.
“We all just got together with the same thought in mind, and for whatever reason, God’s blessed enough to that it’s worked out to what it is today,” said Martin.
Old Jonesville Day started in 2003 in the Yadkin Valley Senior Center, which is adjacent to Lila Swaim Park where the festival is now held. Complementary activities such as historical exhibits and bake sales often still take place in the air-conditioned building.
Although the event now usually runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., originally the festival lasted only a few hours and did not offer many of the activities for which it is now known.
“Every church in town had a historical exhibit,” said Mathis. “It was a steady stream from 2 to 5. No food or anything. It was just strictly local history.”
Old Jonesville Day did have one particular element which continues to be very popular: music.
Even the style of music has not strayed much as choirs and other performers continue to sing religious favorites; however, there is a variety of secular music as well with bands playing continuously throughout the day.
“One band stops and the next one gets going,” said Wood, who added the popularity of some musicians was enough for them to travel with their own fan clubs.
As popular as the music was, the additional activities that have been added has caused the festival to become a celebration of the current population of Jonesville as much as its history.
“The kids really loved the parachutes,” said Wood, “and the hot air balloon was really popular this year, and the race cars.”
The highlight of the event may be the fireworks, which can be viewed from across the river for no more than 30 minutes.
“We have a noise ordinance here in Jonesville,” said Wood, explaining the display was precisely timed so as to not disrespect town rules.
Hosted by the Jonesville Historical Society and sponsored by the town of Jonesville and the Jonesville Tourism Development Authority as well as other local businesses and organizations, the next Jonesville Jubilee is expected to take place May 4, 2019.
To learn more about Jonesville, go to jonesvillenc.gov, or call 336-244-5064 for more information on the Jonesville Jubilee.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.