Our History

Situated in southeastern North Carolina, just eight miles from the Atlantic Ocean and 85 miles east of Raleigh, Jones County boasts a rich tapestry of history and culture. The Trent River gracefully winds through the county, while the White Oak River forms its southern boundary, fostering fertile pocosin areas that nurture diverse wildlife. The county is home to a significant portion of the nation's largest forest laboratory, the Hoffman Forest, and encompasses part of the expansive Croatan National Forest.

Historically, Jones County's economy revolved around large Southern plantations, some exceeding 50,000 acres. The Civil War brought profound changes, turning the county into a continuous war zone. Despite challenges, the community persevered, and by 1886, it was described as a land inhabited by kind, hospitable, and intelligent people, offering cheap and fruitful land.

Fast forward to 2006 when the Jones County Communication and Coordinating Council, supported by the Jones County Commissioners, envisioned a signature festival celebrating the county's rural heritage. The Jones County Heritage Festival emerged in 2009, initially held in July to coincide with the availability of tobacco crops. After evaluating its success, the festival moved to September in 2010, attracting over 4,500 attendees.

The festival showcases heritage skills such as looping tobacco, hand-shelling corn, and features activities like a vintage car/tractor show. Hurricane Irene led to the cancellation of the 2011 festival, with vendors generously redirecting fees to hurricane relief efforts. In 2012, the festival bounced back, incorporating a variety show called "Down Home Country."

Over the years, the festival has weathered challenges like Hurricane Florence in 2018 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, it returned in full swing in 2021, featuring amusement rides, tram rides, a car show, and more. Despite weather-related disruptions in 2022 and 2023, the festival has consistently adapted and evolved.

The 2024 Jones County Heritage Festival is already in the planning stages, scheduled to take place at the Jones County Civic Center on September 27th-28th, 2024. Follow our JCHF Facebook page for updates and join us in celebrating the resilient spirit of Jones County's heritage.