Spring and summer festival season in South Carolina is well underway.
Already, communities have paid tribute to strawberries in Fort Mill and roses in Orangeburg. They raced sailboats in Charleston and watched potters at work in Johnston.
The departmental fairs have started. The first, the Great Anderson County Fair, kicked off Thursday and lasts 10 days.
South Carolina has no shortage of fruits, plants, and animals to honor — peaches, shrimp, azaleas, crawfish, pickles, Boykin spaniels, and blue crab. In Bluffton, the Rotary Club’s Mayfest judges dogs ugly.
Many charities benefit like Meals on Wheels (Downtown Sumter Microbrew and HippieFest May 13) and Shriners Children’s Hospital (Reggaetronic June 4 at Lake Murray).
The sciway.net website has a full calendar of festivals and other events.
We have selected 5 to highlight, but each has its charms.
Held on Memorial Day weekend (May 27-29 of this year) at Swan Lake Iris Gardens in Sumter, the Iris Festival is considered South Carolina’s oldest continuous festival. Sciway says it “consistently ranks among the top SE festivals, includes concerts, arts and crafts, plants, classic car shows, competitions, lots of activities for kids.”
The festival has been named one of the top 20 events by the Southeastern Tourism Society several times and has been ranked among the top 100 events in the United States by the American Bus Association, its website says.
In fact, bus tours from all over the United States and Canada stop at the Iris Festival.
And on the Thursday before the festival starts, a king and queen are crowned and local chefs prepare a feast.
The festival starts on May 27 at 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., same hours on Saturday. And on Sunday the hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Peach Tree 23 Garage Sale
You may have never seen anything like it.
It is 44 miles on SC Highway 23 from Batesburg-Leesville to Modoc.
Seven towns along what is called the ridge southwest of Columbia.
Clothing, jewelry, furniture, household items. There are farmers markets, art for sale, local restaurants.
“You’ll meet some great people as you travel through a beautiful part of rural South Carolina dotted with charming small towns, beautiful old Southern homes, and historic places,” the events website says.
Edgefield is up the road, home to 10 South Carolina governors, including Strom Thurmond, who died at 101 after serving in the US Senate for 48 years.
Edgefield is also notorious for murder and mayhem, as noted by the city on its website. It’s the home of none other than petticoat devil Becky Cotton, who killed her husband with an ax to the head after he failed to save his father from angry men over a land deal.
But this is only a distraction from the rounds of garage sales.
“Anything you want to find, you can find it on the ‘Peach Tree,'” said Pat Asbill, former mayor of Ridge Spring, which is not a slack town with historic churches and peach, nut and nut farms. pecans and asparagus. Lots of horses and cattle ranchers too.
Peachtree 23 Yard Sale takes place June 3-4.
Flopeye Fish Festival
Great Falls, located along the Catawba River in Chester County, is home to around 2,000 people and the Flopeye Fish Festival.
Don’t go google a picture of the floeye fish. It does not exist. It is a part of this small town, which was born out of the construction of hydroelectric plants by what is now known as Duke Energy.
The story goes that about 75 years ago shopkeeper Andy Morrison sat outside his general store and struggled to keep his eyes open.
Three women passing by saw him, and one of them said, “Who is that old man with the droopy eyes?”
‘Several passers-by heard her and the news quickly spread to President of Republic Cotton Mills, Mr Rob Mebane,’ the festival’s website says. “Flopeye, a good name for this part of town,” he said. The name was then promoted by the factory management and took hold. People liked to say they went to FLOPEYE. And they still do.
The festival on May 28 and 29 includes a car show, vendors, musical entertainment and more. It is located in the industrial park just north of town, 2534 James Baker Blvd.
In fact, Great Falls and the Catawba are known to anglers for trout, walleye and smallmouth bass. Don’t expect to find Flopeye.
Beaufort Water Festival
You have to be a serious festival town to host one for 10 days and Beaufort considers itself as such. In fact, they call it “South Carolina’s premier festival, 10 incredible days of Lowcountry fun and memories that last a lifetime.”
Here’s how they fill those days. Something for everyone.
The all-volunteer event includes arts and crafts, a raft race, bocce tournaments, badminton and, for the kids, a toad fishing tournament. There is a talent show, an air show and a ski show. There’s also a river rally, shrimp boat trips and bed race, live entertainment, a Commodore’s Ball and finally on the last day, the Blessing of the Fleet.
This year’s Commodore, Shawna Doran, began volunteering for the festival in 1999.
“I was hooked,” she said in a post on the festival’s webpage. “I have made lasting friendships and loved working alongside so many talented and dedicated members of the community.”
This year, the 66th festival, the theme is “Sun, Fun and Vitamin Sea”.
It takes place from July 15 to 24.
Your own lighthouse tour
National Lighthouse Day is August 7. Imagine a tour along the South Carolina coast to see all 11 lighthouses.
From the south they go from Daufuskie Island to Little River. Two are operational and managed by the US Coast Guard. Most are not open to the public, but there is something about standing, watching and remembering the role lighthouses have played in history and seeing how different they all are, how they have held up over time.
Daufuskie Island, just south of Hilton Head and South Carolina’s southernmost sea island, has two lighthouses, Haig Point and Bloody Point, which showed the way to and from Savannah. The island is only accessible by boat.
Lemington Lighthouse, built between 1879 and 1880, was used to guide ships to Port Royal Sound. It is known as Hilton Head Rear Range Light because it does not face the sea and is now part of the Palmetto Dunes Resort.
This should not be confused with the Harbor Town Lighthouse on Hilton Head Island, which is a kind of decoration, never used for navigation but as part of the island’s shopping district. It’s open to the public.
Morris Island Lighthouse is the third lighthouse to occupy the site south of Charleston and is best viewed from Folly Beach. Construction began in 1872 and it was commissioned four years later.
Once upon a time there were houses for men who held the light. Now the tower sits in the water, erosion slowly washing away the sand.
Save The Light Inc. strives to raise funds to do exactly what its name suggests.
Charleston Light on Sullivan’s Island near Charleston is the state’s other working lighthouse and is not open to the public. Discover South Carolina says it’s one of the most modern lighthouses in the country.
The other lighthouse still in operation and the oldest is Georgetown Light. It was built in 1811 and is closed to the public.
And in Little River, Governor’s Lighthouse is another facsimile lighthouse, built in 1984 as a tourist destination in a neighborhood of beach houses, Discover South Carolina says on its website.
Two lighthouses, also closed to the public and the most remote of all, are on the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Six miles out to sea, the lighthouses, built in 1827 and 1857, are accessible four times a year via boat tour.
National Lighthouse Day has no recurring federal government proclamation. Twice he was recognized by Congress, both times for this year alone.
But for all lighthouse lovers, the day is etched in history.