ALBERTSON -- The annual Washington's Day Fox Hunt and Dog Trials will be held Saturday, Feb. 17, in this rural Duplin County community.

The event has been a tradition for nearly 70 years, ever since a small group of people got together in this rural Duplin County community to hold a fox hunt and meal to celebrate the George Washington's Birthday holiday.

The event, held rain or shine, is always held on the Saturday before George Washington's birthday (Feb. 22).

It is sponsored by the Albertson Ruritan Club. Proceeds shared by the club, Albertson Fire Department and Albertson Community Center.

Breakfast will served from 5 to 8 a.m. at the Albertson Ruritan building on N.C. 111. The cost will be $6.

A memorial service at 7 a.m. to remember people in the community who have died over the past year.

A barbecued pork, and chicken and fish stew lunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $8.

It is the 33rd year for the dog field trials for fox and deer. Call 252-568-4703 to register a dog.

It was an actual fox hunt in the '40s, '60s and some part of the '70s, but when the deer started migrating in, the fox hunters wouldn't bring their dogs to this part of the country because they would jump on a deer and might run too far and get away from them, said longtime Ruritan Willie Rouse said.

Rouse said the hunt originated with the Ruritan Club and became popular by using it as a fundraiser.

Rouse, who joined the Ruritan Club in 1963, and Braxton Grady cook the fish stew.

Rouse has been cooking the fish stew since 1964. Grady started helping about 1985.

Around 800 people normally show up for the lunch, he said, and the event generally nets around $15,000.