The National Hollerin' Contest celebrates a time-honored form of communication in the rural south. We're listening to a contestant at the National Hollerin' Contest, in North Carolina. And that's not just any old shout -- it's a "morning" holler, part of a long tradition in the rural South. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. The National Hollerin' Contest got its start about 30 years ago in the town of Spivey's Corner.

"It came about as just a radio talk show one mornin' where a local guest was in and they were talkin' about old things that took place, in the early days right after the depression and all, and they were talkin' about the hollerin' and somebody said, well, let's see if we can find anybody that knows how to holler. Well, the next thing they knew, people were callin' the radio station tryin' to holler on the telephone." Wayne Edwards is chairman of the hollerin' contest. The tradition of hollering is an old one in the South. Apparently, it was how people communicated from farm to farm in the days before the telephone. Many contestants at the annual event educate the crowd about the different types of hollers, such as the morning holler people would exchange with their neighbors to greet the day.

"You had to have a distinctive good mornin' holler, that was like your signature for people to know who you were, that you were up and about and doin' alright. And mine was influenced by primitive Baptist preachin' rhythms. (hollers)." And if you weren't doin' alright, you might give out a "distress" holler.


(Amazing Grace)

The National Hollerin' Contest takes place the third Saturday in June, every year in Spivey's Corner, North Carolina. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I'm Jim Metzner.