The Navassa Homecoming Festival will take place on Saturday, July 9


Navassa, one of Brunswick County’s fastest growing towns with a population of 1,525, will soon celebrate its Homecoming Festival. Here are some interesting facts about Navassa as the city prepares to celebrate.

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1. Who founded Navassa?

Named after one of the area’s fertilizer factories, the city’s formation was influenced by the city’s location and the economy of the 19th century. Some prudent businessmen, led by Donald McRae, realized the distinct advantages of locating a fertilizer plant there. In 1856, guano (seabird droppings and bat deposits) was discovered on Navassa Island (a small, arid island about 15 miles off the coast of Jamaica). McRae and his business partners decided to have the returning ships loaded with the guano to produce fertilizer. This led to the construction of the Navassa Guano factory in 1869 (named after the island of Navassa). Three additional fertilizer plants would be built within the municipal city limits: Armor Fertilizer (1919), Royster Fertilizer (1927), and Smith-Douglas Fertilizer (1946). These four now defunct fertilizer factories employed more than 4,000 people.

2. How did the Homecoming Festival start?

It started as a concept at Cornelius “Beezle” Bryant’s 1981 funeral in Newark, New Jersey. Bryant was well known in Navassa, so several Navassa residents traveled to New Jersey to attend his funeral. Before leaving Bryant’s funeral, it was decided to hold a “homecoming” banquet in conjunction with the July 4 holiday. More information can be found at

3. Where is Navassa?

Nestled on the west bank at the junction of the Brunswick and Northeast Cape Fear rivers in Brunswick County, the city lies approximately 8 km west of the metropolitan city of Wilmington.

4. What was Navassa’s main mode of transportation?

Boats and trains. Wilmington’s rapidly growing seaport in pre-Civil War times, it was isolated from the western North Carolina interior farmers. Trains were restricted to travel only as far as Belville where the track stopped. Freight had to be hauled manually across the Brunswick and Cape Fear rivers.

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5. When did railways and bridges start?

The “high cliffs” that came just to the edge of the Cape Fear River from the west, and a land mass between Navassa and Wilmington allowed for the construction of railroads through Eagle Island. In 1867, two years after the Civil War, the railroad decided to build a bridge over the Cape Fear River from Navassa. The construction of the bridge allowed two railroad companies (Atlantic Coast Line and The Seaboard Airline) to connect Wilmington with Charlotte and the interior counties of South Carolina.

6. When was Navassa incorporated?

The city was incorporated on March 18, 1977.

7. Since the city’s incorporation, how many rulers have there been?

There have been two mayors and an elected city council of five members. Louis A. Brown, Navassa’s first mayor, served from 1977 to 1999. Eulis A. Willis, Brown’s successor as mayor, has served since 1999. Prior to his time as mayor, Mayor Willis served on the city council of Navassa for 21 years.

8. What are some of the city’s achievements?

Navassa’s growth continues to thrive while trying to maintain its heritage, culture and integrity. The city has seen many residential and commercial ventures – the completion of the I-140 interchange, a large waste treatment plant, access to city water, the installation of sewer collection lines and other amenities, the city began to see an influx of development.

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Want to go?

What? Navassa Homecoming Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 9 at Navassa Township District Park, 800 Park Ave.

Information: The one-day festival will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, food trucks, games, various vendors, face painting, music, a cornhole tournament, special performances by Futureent Records Artists and others. entertainment.


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