Five Festivals for Fun in the Greenwood Sun

Local festivals bring fun for everyone all spring and summer in Greenwood County.

  • Publication date May 12, 2021
  • Categories Outdoors

There’s plenty to do year-round in Greenwood’s mild climate, but things really heat up in spring and summer. May marks the start of a full-blown season of festivals with mouth-watering food, memorable music, arts, crafts, cars, flowers and all-around fun for everybody. With the SC Festival of Flowers and its famous topiaries coming in June, it’s time to take a look at some of the area’s other big events.

Catfish “Feastival,” Ware Shoals, May 26-29, 2021

Tiny Ware Shoals will kick off the fun in May with the Catfish Feastival, a Memorial Day weekend tradition for more than 40 years. Why is it called a “feast”ival? “Because we eat our way through it.”

After being cancelled and then reimagined as a smaller fall event in 2020, the 2021 plan is for the real deal. “We’re not scaling back on anything,” says organizer Rick Holland. They’ve even added a day, bringing a Wednesday night gospel show to the Feastival for the first time, with three church choirs performing.

As befitting an event that even has its own theme song, music is a big part of the feast-ivities. This year, beach music is on tap, with concerts by the Tams and Chairmen of the Board, and South Carolina country music favorite Cody Webb for a change of pace. 

Of course, with the word “feast” in the name, there has to be food—and lots of it. In addition to the catfish (as much as 2,800 pounds of it!), there are always plenty of food trucks selling other festival favorites, including delicious Carolina barbeque.  Even last year, when the festival was cancelled, there were still plates of catfish and side dishes—and the famous catfish stew by the quart—available for carry out. 

In years past, up to 25,000 people have attended the three-day festival, a huge undertaking for a town of only 2,000 people. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it when you see people having a good time,” Rick says.

“I love to see the kids having fun,” says Teresa Holland, Rick’s wife, who also serves on the Feastival board. Teresa spent 12 years as a substitute teacher in Ware Shoals schools, and she loves all the rides for the younger set. “For so many kids, it’s like DisneyWorld,” she says.

The classic car cruise-in is back this year again, and free shuttles are available to get people to the event grounds. One big part of the festival has always been the pageants for different age groups. Last year, the pageants became a virtual event, where everybody wins. That’s one change that is staying with them.

The Feastival is the town’s signature event, and a point of pride for the community. Teresa says that the board meets the day after the festival closes each year to eat a meal together, reconcile the books and start planning the next year’s event. After 10 years on the board, the Hollands haven’t even started to let up, and are planning another fall event to carry the enthusiasm forward.

Festival of Stars, Ninety Six, June 26, 2021

The town of Ninety Six kicks off its annual Independence Day celebration in the Town Park with a Red, White and Blue Parade. “Anything with wheels” is the motto, with cars, trucks, bikes, golf carts, tractors, wagons and baby strollers (and their drivers) decked out for the festivities. Entry is free, and the fun is contagious.

A car show from 11 am to 2 pm, food vendors and live radio remotes throughout the day all lead up to the big finale, the annual, highly anticipated patriotic fireworks celebration at 9:45. 

Plans are still in the works for a photo contest and other activities, depending on the COVID-19 outlook as the date approaches. Margie Blalock, Ninety Six tourism director, says that while plans are dependent on the status of the pandemic, the Festival of Stars will probably have a fall harvest version of the festival with a focus on bluegrass music and the town’s much loved scarecrow decorations.

Before the dazzling fireworks, music by the all-star group of musicians that make up the Jake Bartley Band, as well as food vendors are planned, but details will be confirmed closer to the date. 

Lights on the Lake, July 3, 2021

Lights on the Lake is a spectacular fireworks show that fires up both the water and the sky with color, sound and magical shapes. The synchronized display and inspiring music are the memorable finale of what is by far the largest event on Lake Greenwood and one of the largest for Greenwood and Laurens Counties. 

As of April, Connect Lake Greenwood (CLG) plans to offer viewing both on land and water again this year. Advance tickets required for land and registration for viewing on the water because of limited space.

In its eighth year, Lights on the Lake is one of several events that Connect Lake Greenwood produces, including concerts and movie nights at Break on the Lake and Skipper’s Marina.

Two popular Paddle the River events are back this year. Kayakers and canoers put in below the dam for the two-hour paddle to Silverstreet. The first is scheduled for 10 a.m., June 12, with a second paddle day still to be scheduled later in the summer.

SC Festival of Discovery and Blues Cruise, July 8-10, 2021

Mouthwatering barbeque and renowned blues musicians are the twin centerpieces of this highly anticipated celebration of the area’s culture, history and arts. Sponsored by the Uptown Greenwood Development Corporation, the Festival of Discovery is a premier event for the region. 

The central festival area will be along Main Street, while the Kid Zone, with a ferris wheel and other rides, and arts and crafts area will be across from the Mill House on Maxwell Ave.

“Blues Cruise” brings music to the restaurants and venues of Uptown Greenwood, while the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) BBQ and Hash Cook-Off brings the best of the region’s tastes to town.

This year’s incredible musical lineup features the entire gamut of blues-infused music—classic, electric, Creole, Chicago, roadhouse, funky, R&B, and uptown soul. From slow drag to high energy, from mellow sets to back porch boogies, the music just keeps going. There are two stages this year, one on Main Street between Oak and Court Avenues, and another at the Uptown Market.

A full slate of BBQ teams is already lined up for the competition, and additional events for the whole family are in the planning stages. The Kids Que competition on Friday, July 9, allows young chefs to showcase their skills.

Nothing shows off the fun, friendly atmosphere of Greenwood like a festival. Come to one, or be there for all of them.

Festival of Discovery images courtesy of Laura Brown Photography.

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