ALBERTSON — One hundred pounds of rock fish fillets, 40 pounds of potatoes, 15 pounds of onions and a whole lot of eggs go into Willie Rouse’s popular fish stew. 

Everybody wants an egg, said Rouse, who has cooked the fish stew for the annual Washington’s Day Fox Hunt and Dog Trials since joining the Albertson Ruritans in 1964.

“With a 30-gallon pot, you’ve got to put a lot in there,” he said.

A tradition for 70 years, the fundraising event, which is now a fox hunt in name only, will be held Saturday at the Albertson Ruritan Community Building in rural northern Duplin County.

The event is always held on the Saturday before George Washington’s birthday (Feb. 22). This year, it falls on Saturday, Feb. 16.

“What started was fox hunters back in the ‘40s, they would get together and have these actual fox hunts,” Rouse said. “George Washington was known for his fox hunting, so our event has always been around Washington’s birthday. We set it the Saturday before Washington’s birthday so that the other organizations would know, and we could get on record.

“There are about 10 or 12 other events that do these field trials, and we have to get on the calendar. It used to be the Saturday closest to the 22nd. Sometimes it would be after the 22nd, sometimes before. If it happened on Wednesday, it was always a question of which day to have it. So we set it this way.”

Sponsored by the Albertson Ruritan Club, the proceeds are shared by the club, Albertson Volunteer Fire Department and Albertson Recreation Center.

Last year’s event cleared about $4,500 for each organization.

The event starts before sunrise at 5 a.m. with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, grits, sausage, toast and homemade biscuits at the Albertson Ruritan Community Building on N.C. 111 about 22 miles south of Goldsboro. The cost is $6.

The meal will end at 8 a.m.

A memorial service will be held at 7 a.m. for local residents who have died since the previous event.

Breakfast is followed by a lunch of barbecued chicken or pork, or fish stew, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $8, eat-in or take-out.

Albertson firefighters will cook the pigs and chickens.

A Browning rifle will be auctioned off. The winner can take the rifle or $800 in cash.

There also will be raffles for $200 and $100. Tickets are $5 apiece and are available from Albertson firefighters and event volunteers and on the day of the event.

The 34th annual dog trials — which replaced the actual fox hunt — start at 7 a.m. and end around noon.

Last year, 312 dogs were registered for the trials that are part of the dog trials circuit. Even more are expected this year, Rouse said.

To pre-register dogs, call 252-568-4703.

“We are appreciative of all of the volunteers,” Rouse said. “We are appreciative of the people who come out and support us. It is all about the community coming together for the benefit of the community.

“It takes an army of volunteers. It takes a lot of people to put on all of the events we have around this event.”