For nearly 50 years, the National Hollerin’ Contest was held every third Saturday of June in Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina. Although the contest ended in 2016, it is a great piece of North Carolina history and the “semi-official” website is hosted by ibiblio!
The contest celebrates the folk tradition of hollering as a form of communication, which was popular in communities across the Southeast United States during the 18th and 19 centuries. In North Carolina, loggers transporting wood from Sampson County (where Spivey’s Corner is located) to Wilmington would holler to each other in order to avoid raft crashes and call for aid. To natives of Sampson County, hollering is viewed as an art form and taken very seriously!
Types of Hollers
While hollers can be used for basically any purpose imaginable, there are generally four types of hollers that are heard at the National Hollerin’ Contest. They are:
These hollers were historically used to alert neighbors of danger. This tone was commonly used to find lost children and bring attention to house fires.
Since farmers often worked a mile or two away from each other, they would use hollers to say hello or confirm someone’s location. Nothing else was loud enough to be heard from that distance!
These were commonly used to round up animals such as pigs and cows. Each farmer had a set of unique calls so they wouldn’t disturb their neighbors’ dogs while trying to round up their own animals. Women also used functional hollers to call home to their families while working outside during the day.
While the other forms of hollers are more functional, expressive hollers are just for fun! They can be to the tune of a song or be an impression, or they can be something completely made up. Many contestants have won the contest with this type of holler.