Hobson City kicked off its weeklong Founder’s Festival Monday with a Bible story about Esau and Jacob — two brothers who didn’t get along.
“Even in Genesis you see these conflicts developing,” said Mayor Alberta McCrory Tuesday afternoon. “That lets us know here in Hobson City that we’re going to have some difficulties and some conflicts, some misunderstandings, but through it all, God will see us through all of this.”
The parallels between the story of sibling rivalry — which results in stolen birthrights and lifelong conflict — told at an old-fashioned revival Monday and Hobson City history might be apparent to those familiar with the city’s past, which McCrory gladly shared. Hobson City was founded in 1899, soon after Oxford redrew its city limits to exclude a black voting population in what was then called Moree Quarter. The city became a black “model city,” according to McCrory, with black leadership, law enforcement officers and judges.
To celebrate that past, this year’s theme is “Tell Them We Are Rising,” McCrory said, highlighting the accomplishments of various residents from the city’s 120-year history. There are events Thursday through Saturday:
— On Thursday the city will host its “Community All White” awards ceremony, in which residents committed to the well-being of Hobson City will receive recognition. The event is to be at the Federal Emergency Management Building behind the former C.E. Hanna Elementary School at 6:30 p.m.
— Friday is full of events at the FEMA building, starting with an economic development meeting to discuss development in underserved towns at 9 a.m. From 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. there will be a presentation about health and mental health, and at 6 p.m. the city hosts the mayor’s annual banquet. While most events are free, admission to the banquet is $20.
Robert Pyles, a business owner who was born in Hobson City and lives in Milwaukee, will speak at the banquet. McCrory said Pyles owns 11 McDonald’s restaurants in the Wisconsin city and refurbishes homes that he helps his employees buy. She said she wants young people to see what he’s done.
“We want them to see that a young man coming out of Hobson City who has a plan and puts his faith in God can accomplish a whole lot of things,” McCrory said.
— Saturday starts at 8 a.m. with a 5K walk/run event, the only other paid event during Founder’s Week; registration is $20 to participate or $15 for just a race shirt, with proceeds going to the city library. Registration is online at hobsoncityfestival.org.
The Hobson City reunion is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Striplin Park, with games and activities throughout the day. Visitors are encouraged to cook out if they wish. Live music will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
At 11 a.m. Draper Street will be renamed to Atkinson Drive, in honor of Willie Maud Atkinson, the oldest living resident of Hobson City, who celebrates her 100th birthday later this month. The renaming also honors her son, Alfonza Atkinson, a former dean of Tuskegee University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health.
Alfonza graduated from Calhoun County Training School alongside former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, McCrory said, adding that Satcher will attend the event. Alfonza died in 2002 at age 59.
McCrory said the event will help bring a sense of togetherness to the city that it may have lost some of when the elementary school closed, and regular gatherings like dances and winter musicals stopped happening.
“We have a lot of things trying to be birthed in this city,” she said, “and it takes the people in this city to come together and make those things happen.”