An ode to North Carolina — the state with snowcapped mountains, pine trees that sway in the wind, coastal blue waters that sparkle under the sun, and the 10 million great people who call this state home.
“Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine, The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great, Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State!”
The legendary words of “The Old North State,” a poem written by Leonora Monteiro Martin and officially adopted by the North Carolina General Assembly in May of 1957 as the state’s official toast became the focal point of weekend festivities celebrating North Carolina herself.
The 2017 North Carolina Governor’s Inaugural Ball, hosted by the Junior League of Raleigh, took place Friday evening at Marbles Children's Museum in downtown Raleigh, after the imminent winter weather forced the committee to adjust their plans.
“This is a state I love, that we all love. From the mountains, to the piedmont, to the coast — North Carolina has it all. Every four years we are able to honor the great and talented people across North Carolina as we celebrate the state,” said Melissa Hayes, co-chair of the N.C. Governor’s Inaugural Ball.
The Inaugural Ball featured food and chef’s stations from the state’s three regions, a biergarten with beer samples from North Carolina breweries, and performances by The Avett Brothers, Bull City Syndicate, Kasey Tyndall, and Old Habits.
Continuing with the recognition of the state’s toast, Gov. Roy Cooper performed a reading of the poem, nine-foot-tall glass champagne structures adorned the event space, succulents with hand-painted tips of gold covered the tables, and theatrical performers dressed in lavish ball gowns made of 200 champagne glasses mingled throughout the eve- ning. More than 3,000 people from around the state ventured to the capital city for the evening’s celebrations.
“Here’s to the land of the cotton bloom white, Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate, ‘Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!”
As culinary creations varied in textures and taste, the state’s signature dishes were on display from Oak & Dagger Public House, Piedmont, Death & Taxes, Raleigh Cake Pops, Bida Manda, and Empire Eats.
For Chef John May of Piedmont Restaurant in downtown Durham, the vast farmlands of Carolina provide ample opportunities to bring various foods to the table.
“As a restaurant directly tied to a North Carolina farm — Coon Rock Farm — embracing North Carolina foodways is at the core of who we are at the Piedmont,” said May.
In keeping with Southern tradition, May and his team served a quick bread of winter squashes.
“Since quick breads were an important part of antebellum North Carolina and squash is considered one of the Three Sisters, along with beans and corn, this dish honors the historical basis of Southern, and in particular, North Carolina cuisine,” he added.
“Here’s to the land where the galas grows, Where the rhododendron’s rosette glows, Where soars Mount Mitchell’s summit great, In the “Land of the Sky,” in the Old North State!”
While honoring North Carolina cuisine and celebrating the increasing growth of craft breweries, guests toasted North Carolina’s vast lands, farm fresh foods, and skillfully created beer, as well as the people and places of this special state.
As glasses were raised and the cheers roared ...
“Here’s to the land where maidens are fair, Where friends are true and cold hearts rare, The near land, the dear land, whatever fate, The blessed land, the best land, the Old North State!”