DAVIDSON – Mayor Rusty Knox first suggested the idea of a community dinner during a one-day mini-retreat in January. His stated goal was to provide a chance for residents from all parts of towns – with varying perspectives on town issues and, in some cases, lingering animosity fueled by a turbulent municipal election – to come together, get to know each other and find common ground toward the goal of making the town better. “Breaking bread is one of the best ways to break out the peace pipe,” Knox said at the time.
A few weeks later, town staff members began coordinating the project, and the result of their efforts was the first community dinner held Friday, May 4, on the eve of Davidson’s Town Day celebration. The town provided barbecue, drinks and paper products and set up rows of tables and chairs for the picnic-like event held in the Jackson Street parking lot beside the fire department. Town residents were invited to bring a side dish or dessert and join the festivities.
Coinciding with other Friday evening functions in the downtown area, the first community dinner attracted around 300 participants. Elected officials along with town staff members and community volunteers took turns as hosts, servers and event ambassadors.
The next morning, during Town Day activities, Knox said he considered the event a success. He acknowledged some circumstances – particularly memorial services held Friday for a longtime Davidson resident – lessened the festive tone of the event and perhaps impacted attendance at the dinner but said he was already thinking about a second community dinner in September.