(Above: Seven-time Hollerin' Contest Champion Larry Jackson accepts his 2008 trophy with a holler. )
**Editor's Note: The 43nd Annual National Hollerin' Contest will be held in June in Spivey's Corner, NC. This post features 2008 contest.
Spivey’s Corner, NC---
Larry Jackson steps to the microphone with the confidence of a competitor who has seen this scene before. Earlier in the contest, Tony Peacock hollered from deep down in his toes. Kevin Jasper, last year’s champion, brought his A-material, a series of traditional hollers infused with his own personal twists.
The bar sits mighty high.
Listen to Larry's championship hollers.
Hollerin’ is hollerin’. It’s not yodeling. It’s not hog calling. It’s not even hollering with a ‘g.'
Before the prevalence of telephones, a man created a holler to say good morning to his neighbor a few miles down the road. A pregnant woman hollered a certain way to alert her midwife that the baby was ready to see the sunlight.
(Above: The contest logo is etched into a granite marker in front of the Spivey's Corner Volunteer Fire Department.)
Hollerin’ aficionados in Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina, call it the oldest kind of communication. And for the last 40 years they’ve held the National Hollerin' Contest on the third Saturday in June to preserve the fading art form.
(Above: Two-time champion Tony Peacock placed third in this year's competition.)
Larry needs no introduction. He has hoisted six championship trophies since 1991, winning as recently as 2005. He is also a local; raised just down the road from Spivey’s Corner in Clement. Larry used to barn tobacco with a guy named Leonard Emanuel. Leonard was one of the contest’s early champions, became a hollerin’ mentor, and is still revered by many of the current serious hollerers.
(Above: Three-time champion Kevin Jasper displays all his winning and runner-up trophies.)
Since its inception in 1969, the contest has expanded to include other categories, including the Ladies Callin’ Contest, the Teen Hollerin’ Contest, the Junior Hollerin’ Contest, and the Conch Shell Blowin' Contest.
Larry opens with a Good Mornin’ Holler and transitions into a Distress Holler he says sounds like a modern day siren. He does a Locator Holler then demonstrates a Run—a continuous holler while breathing in and out. Larry rounds out his four minute limit with a few bars of the hymn Amazing Grace. Hollered, of course.
(Above: Ivy Hinson of Fayetteville, NC, captured the 2008 Junior Hollerin' Championship. I promise that she was happy to win.)
Before the contest, I asked Larry if the pressure was high since he was a past winner. “Not really,” he said. “If I go out tomorrow night and buy a steak, it’s still gonna cost the same whether I walk off the stage with a trophy or not.”
I don’t know if he eventually ordered a t-bone, but by the end of the day, he was carrying away another trophy for the mantel. His seventh.
For more pictures from the 40th Annual National Hollerin' Contest, click here.
(Above: Former champion Jim Grastie made a strong showing at the contest but came up short.)