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CHADBOURN, NC (WWAY) — Chadbourn’s famous Strawberry Festival brought the community together for the 85th time.

The small agricultural community of Chadbourn has been harvesting strawberries since 1900. Chadbourn resident Candice Locklear said the festival to celebrate the fruit is also about celebrating diversity.

“It’s pretty interesting,” Locklear said. “You get to see different stuff and see different people, see different fire departments and what’s going on in the community.”

One thing going on in the community centers around former Senator R.C. Soles, a lawyer accused of getting into trouble with some of his former clients.

Despite some of the controversy surrounding him, Soles agreed to do an interview but said he would only answer questions about the Strawberry Festival.

“I first marched the county band when I was in high school. We’d come over to the Strawberry Festival and have a good time,” Soles sad. “Then I’ve ridden in it many, many times as a member of the House and the Senate. Now that I’m retired, they have really honored me and surprised me by asking me to be the Grand Marshal.”

We asked Soles if he thought he was a good choice to represent the community as Grand Marshal considering the ongoing controversy in Columbus County that is often linked to him.

“I had nothing to do with getting selected,” Soles said. “They selected me, and I graciously accepted, and I’ll always be indebted to them.”

Soles quickly handed over the microphone after that question and went on to lead the parade through the streets of Chadbourn.

Locklear enjoyed the parade for the first time and said she’s definitely a fan of the festival.

“Maybe they ain’t seen each other in about five years. They come to the Strawberry Festival and run into each other. They just be able to spend time with friends and family, be able to talk and have fun.”

Many festival goers didn’t have much of an opinion on the decision to make Soles Grand Marshal. Most were too busy enjoying the food and fun to say anything about the former senator.

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