Starting this weekend and continuing until next weekend, communities and organizations all over the Upstate are celebrating Independence Day with food, music, family entertainment, military appreciation—and, of course, fireworks!
Starting this evening (June 27th), Furman University’s Summer by the Lake Concert Series will present a concert of patriotic music featuring the Greenville Chorale along with the Lakeside Concert Band.
On Saturday, you can head over to Greer for Freedom Blast 2019, which is an extravaganza of Independence Day activities, with a military tribute, a kids zone, plenty of food and music, and sky diving! Truly something for everyone at this Greer tradition.
Greenwood’s Festival of Flowers closes out on July 2nd with a Musical Salute to America by the 246 Army Band at the Greenwood County Veterans Center.
Clemsonfest, on the 3rd, has plenty of family fun during the day, and then in the evening, music and fireworks will ring in July 4th.
On the morning of the 4th, lace up your running shoes for the Greenville Track Club’s Red, White and Blue Shoes 5K, which raises money for the Blue Shoes track scholarship program.
Hillbilly Day, one of the oldest festivals in the state, doesn’t have any fireworks on the 4th, but plenty of clogging, bluegrass music, crafts, old-time games, and food. Head on over to Mountain Rest for an old-timey good time!
The FR8yard in Spartanburg celebrates America’s birthday with the GR8 American Throwdown, where proceeds benefit the Hub City Animal Project. In addition to fireworks, there will be ping pong and cornhole tournaments, a “patriotic pup” contest, and pop-up pools to beat the heat.
And Liberty, whose town name is just begging for a July 4th celebration, has Love My Liberty, where the hotdogs, children’s activities, inflatables, and live music are all free. Greenville, Spartanburg, and Seneca also have their annual 4th of July fireworks festivities.
Shipwreck Cove in Duncan will have free swimming and fireworks from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m., perfect for the hot weather!
Broadway theater in New York City is the pinnacle of success for stage actors who dream of making it big—and there’s no doubt that seeing one of those big city productions is an unforgettable experience. The closest thing to that around here is the traveling Broadway shows at the Peace Center, and those shows are worth seeing if you can get tickets.
Those actors and actresses decided to pursue acting for a living, which is a choice that comes with a lot of sacrifice—there’s no question about that. But there are talented people who stayed in their own communities, too, making different choices but not losing their talent.
For every famous actor or singer who says they got their start singing in their church choir or doing school theater, there are a hundred more who still sing and act beautifully while being teachers and car salesmen and nurses and stay-at-home moms by day. And a lot of those people are acting in plays and musicals right here in the Upstate, giving some really remarkable performances.
I went to see Fun Home put on by the Proud Mary Theatre Company last weekend, which performs in a small space in the West Main Artists’ Co-op in Spartanburg—and in front of a crowd of 50 people or so, the cast performed their lines and songs with every bit as much emotion and nuance as they would have in front of a packed house at a larger theater. Dean, our executive director, took his daughter to see M*A*S*H at the Abbeville Opera House, and they were pulled into the characters’ story as much as they would have been with a traveling Broadway show. My husband, who never thought he would enjoy a musical play, now is the one to suggest that we go see the latest offering at the Spartanburg Little Theatre. And there are lots of other theaters in towns all over our ten counties putting on great shows.
Supporting local theater keeps the arts alive in your community. It’s an affordable evening out. You may see someone you know in a production and get to see a different side of a neighbor or co-worker. You might even be inspired to join the cast or crew yourself! There are a lot of plays listed on our calendar, so why not go check one out this weekend?
Roper Mountain Science Center is a great place to visit no matter when you go, but if you go now through July 12th, there’s a treat in store for you—the Butterfly Adventure, now in its 4th year.
As you enter the natural rainforest habitat area, which is now covered in netting, you’ll receive a “magic wand”—a cotton swab dipped in red Gatorade—to attract the butterflies. There are hundreds of butterflies of several species native to our region, along with plants that are brought in specially for the species of butterflies to feed on, rest on, lay eggs on, and do what butterflies do.
Zebra Longwing butterfly
After you leave the netted area (making sure you’re not taking any butterflies with you on your clothes), you’ll enter the Rainforest Classroom, which right now is full of glass tanks and netted enclosures where all manner of caterpillars, cocoons, and moths and butterflies are in various stages of metamorphosis—all presided over by Anne Howell, the “butterfly lady,” who breeds a lot of the butterflies for the exhibit and is happy to pass along her knowledge to visitors young and old.
Anne Howell, the “Butterfly Lady”
The exhibit is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., closed only on the 4th of July. Admission is: $8 for teens and adults (ages 13-59); $7 for children (ages 4-12) and for senior citizens (age 60 and over). Free for children age 3 and under, Roper Mountain Science Center members, and school district employees.
Want even more butterfly adventure? Three special Monday Butterfly Bonanza parent/child events will take place on June 17th, June 24th, and July 8th, from 10:00-11:00 a.m. The Butterfly Bonanza ticket ($40 for a parent and one child) includes a special butterfly-themed craft and sweet treat.
And, of course, year-round, the butterfly garden outside of Harrison Hall contains plants that attract butterflies and bees. In 2002, it was certified as a National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat.
While you’re there, you’ll want to explore the rest of the Harrison Hall of Natural Science, the nature trails, living history farm, and much more.
Nearly 150 years ago, long before the term “edutainment” came into use, an adult educational/entertainment movement was born on the shores of Lake Chautauqua in New York State (Wikipedia). They became so popular that “daughter Chautauquas” sprang up in other locations, spreading the movement to other areas of the country in the early part of the 20th century. Common elements of those early assemblies were lectures, religious themes, and music—and they were seen as a more wholesome form of entertainment than the vaudeville performances that were popular at the same time.
After the Great Depression the two world wars, the Chautauqua movement faded away as radio and TV became household entertainment, but it was revived in the 1970s.
Today Chautauqua is associated with living history—performances given in character of historical figures, with an interactive element in which the audience can pose questions to a living, breathing person. Greenville Chautauqua’s website describes it this way: “More than history. More than a performance. More than a story. We are Chautauqua, a nonprofit, experiential oral tradition that brings history to life through interactive theater and compelling discussion aimed at stimulating critical thinking.”
Chautauqua in the Upstate
The Greenville Chautauqua has been bringing history to life since 1999, expanding its programming to Asheville in 2000 and Spartanburg in 2009. The June festival includes events in all three cities, as well as Travelers Rest, Pelzer, and Brevard (NC).
This year’s theme is “It’s Revolutionary,” but it’s not all about the Revolutionary war—using an expansive definition, the festival features Alexander Hamilton (and some of his women), Andrew Jackson, Jackie Kennedy, and Malcolm X.
Click here for the full schedule, and go meet some of the most interesting characters in history.