Lando Days celebration is a way to save heritage

Where can you find a classic car show, a beach, a 1930s-era classroom and an Elvis impersonator all in the same place? Only at the fifth annual Lando Days celebration at the Lando-Manetta Mills History Center on Saturday. The family fun and entertainment begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. There will be lots of good food, live music, games and more, said Joe Polk, director of the history center.

“We hope this year’s festival will be even better than last year,” he said. “We had about 1,000 people last year.” The Lando Days celebration began as a way to keep the tight-knit community united after its textile mill closed, Polk said. “It’s a way to save this heritage,” he said. “China took the jobs but we’re not going to give them our heritage too!” Lando Days allows former residents to reunite with the community, Polk said. Last year, a former Lando resident made his way back home from New Hampshire. Barbara Langley, a history center board member and volunteer, said people with roots in Lando are forever tied to this community. “You can take the people out of Lando but you can’t take Lando out of the people,” she said. “To me, a mill village is a bond you can’t explain – it’s a bond you have just living on a mill village and that bond is tight!”

Susan Murphy, another board member and volunteer, explained why this festival is important. “It allows the community of the present and the community of the past to join together and have a reunion of such,” she said. “People talk about the way things were, people relive their past and that’s the reason the history center is here, so people can relive their past. Lando Days is an extra ingredient to that.”

In anticipation of this year’s festival, six rooms of the history center have been renovated, Murphy said. Her favorite room replicates the old Lando School that closed in the early 1950s. The classroom at the history center has wooden desks from the 1930s, a chalkboard and the bottom portion of the wall is made of original boards from the fourth grade class of the old school. There are pictures of Lando Principal H.A. Loftis and teachers Flora Reid, Mary Fowler Reid, Florence Mitchell and Mattie Mae Simpson. Nena McKinney’s perfect attendance certificate hangs on the wall along with report cards for Douglas Polk and Grady Hinson. A treasured piece of academic history shows the Lando School’s third grade class in 1948 and these same students from their graduating class of 1959. Other rooms show Dr. John Gaston’s medical office with his examining table and The Lando Barbershop with the original barber chair and the shoe-shine stand used by Cecil Polk in the 1940s. There will be as much to do outside as inside on Saturday, Polk said. Guests can enjoy a hay ride, train ride and Shriners riding on small cars to entertain the crowd. This year, new additions are homemade funnel cakes and candied apples. Popcorn, hot dogs and barbecue plates with all the fixings will also be available. There will be raffles for a gas grill and oil changes. Each hour, a $25 cash prize will be given away. Vendors will sell preserves, boiled peanuts, jewelry, clothes and much more. The All About Me Hair Salon from Richburg will offer free haircuts with donations going to the Rapunzel Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping chemotherapy patients keep their hair during treatment, said Susan McWatters, owner of All About Me.

“At 11:30 that day, we’ll be doing some special cuts,” McWatters said. “Two girls are donating 10 inches of their hair to the organization.” Lando Days will be a fun celebration for everyone, Polk said and shared why Lando is still his home. “I’ve just got so many memories of the people in Lando!” he said.