Eastern Wake: Community

This Week in History: Feb. 4

Russian natives Boris Kipchakov, holding the contrabass balalaika, and Olga Orlova wait backstage before a performance at Zebulon Elementary School in 2005.
Russian natives Boris Kipchakov, holding the contrabass balalaika, and Olga Orlova wait backstage before a performance at Zebulon Elementary School in 2005. NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

This week in history we look back 10, 25 and 50 years to see what was going on in the eastern Wake County area.

In 2005, Moscow Nights came to light at Zebulon Elementary. In 1990, Zebulon honored a farmer for doing something that has become increasingly important in recent years. And in 1965, the March of Dimes was growing in Zebulon.


Cultural arts are valuable programs that help teach students about this big, complex world we live in. In 2005, Zebulon Elementary students were learning about Russia and its cultural heritage.

Much like the 1963 James Bond movie of the same name, a group made a transatlantic trip to Zebulon Elementary School Jan. 27 to offer songs from Russia ... with love.

As part of the school’s cultural arts program, Moscow Nights, a duo musical group led by Vitaliy Bezrodnov on Bayan accordion and Golden Gates, a child group of girls that dance to traditional folk music, performed to an enthusiastic audience itching to learn more about the world. Some kids even got to play the foreign instruments.

“I chose them because that’s a great thing for students to be exposed to,” said music teacher Rhonda Evrard. “A different culture and different music.”

In weeks past, the school has seen performances from Spanish dancers and more. About once every two months, the PTA-sponsored program draws in acts from all walks of life for the children. “The kids love it,” Evrard said. “It’s things they wouldn’t be able to experience at home.”


Land conservation becomes more and more important the more we learn about runoff, nutrient depletion and erosion. In 1990, local farmer Mike Pate was honored for being ahead of the game and conserving his land.

Mike Pate is the last of a dying breed... a small farmer.

The Zebulon native, however, has plenty of life left in him. He has disked up the secret to surviving the toil of the soil: living off the land also means living for the land.

Pate said, “I’ve always wanted to farm.” As a result, he has taken steps to conserve his land, thus prolonging his self-employment.

Those procedures have not gone unrewarded, both by nature and by man. Not only did 1989 bring his best tobacco crop ever, but it also wrought the Pate family the Wake County “Farm Family Conservation Award” presented annually by the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District.

At a Dec. 7, 1989 ceremony, Pate became the first farmer from the local area to receive the honor.

Pate earned the award by making the effort of offering his land the chance to save itself. He opted for strip-cropping, a practice of alternating crop fields with 125-foot strips of grass. This deterred soil erosion, which can erase 45 to 50 acres of dirt per year.

Pate also covered areas close to his irrigation ponds with grass. This filtered the water runoff coming from the fields, causing only clean rainfall to fill the waterholes.

The processes meant extra time, extra work and taking up spaces that could have been used for cash crop production.

Pate justifies his actions with the fact that the land will reimburse him in time. “It’ll (strip-farming) pay for itself in years to come,” Pate said. “The yields will get better.”


The March of Dimes is, by now, a household name when discussing charities. In 1965, an event in Zebulon raised a record amount.

Contributions to the March of Dimes from this area were the greatest ever collected, Mrs. Ben Thomas, chairman of the drive, announced this week.

The total Monday was $806.09, and cannister collections had not been counted. One solicitor had not brought in his collections.

“It was a most successful drive,” the chairman said. “People gave better this year than in the past. I am very pleased.”

The collections were made Tuesday night, January 26, in a house-to-house canvass.

Mrs. Thomas and her co-chairman, Mrs. Armstrong Cannady, expressed thanks to the persons who made the solicitations.

After the night drive solicitors were invited by Mrs. Thomas in for refreshments. Mrs. Ed Ellington provided organ music for the occasion.