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.
From the spring through the fall, towns all over the Upstate have live music—some as often as every week—for free, family-friendly entertainment. Grab a chair, pack a picnic, take the kids, and enjoy an evening out with free music!
Here is a sampling:
Abbeville Live Concert Series will offer two concerts on the square this summer: Fred Engler and the Trouble Shooters on June 7th, and a special Labor Day Cruise-in concert featuring the Super Sixties.
Jazz on the Alley in Seneca features a variety of bands every Thursday from April through October, and many restaurants offer outdoor dining on Thursdays to allow diners to enjoy the music—or you can bring a lawn chair and a picnic!
Main Street Laurens’ Finally Friday on the Square takes place on the final Friday of each month—check their Facebook page and their website for what’s coming up at the end of this month.
Spartanburg has two weekly music offerings: Music on Main on Thursdays, which showcases bands covering a wide variety of genres, and Jazz on the Square on Saturdays.
Music in the Park, in Travelers Rest, has something for everyone, from 80s retro music to rockabilly and much more, every Saturday. There are food trucks starting at 6:00, and the music starts at 7:00.
There’s always something happening in the Upstate, and this weekend there are a ton of festivals in the Upstate to choose from. Every festival, along with the town hosting it, has its own local flavor, so see if there’s one happening in a place you’ve never visited before and check it out!
If you’re inspired by our Instagram photo of the week to go visit Abbeville, this weekend is a good time to do it: Abbeville Spring Festival starts on Thursday and runs all weekend long, with tons of music, crafts, and delicious food.
For a festival and fundraiser rolled into one, head over to Pickens for the 22nd annual Blue Ridge Fest, hosted by Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative employees. You’ll pay for a ticket that gets you access to bands, a classic car show, and more–and the money raised benefits local charities.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Pelham Medical Center Greer Family Fest, and the planners this year have an expanded vision for the festival to reflect Greer’s growth. With Restaurant Row, a Kids Zone, more than 150 vendors, and plenty of live music, there’s something for everyone!
The Reedy River Duck Derby is more than just rubber ducks going down the river–it’s a full-on festival in its own right! Loads of family-friendly entertainment, games, and activities will give you plenty of reason to spend the whole day in the park. And the ducky adoptions fund children’s charities.
Another festival for a cause is Piedmont’s Spring Craft and Vendor Fair, held at the Farm at Sandy Spring, which raises money for community repairs.
Spartanburg’s Earth Day Festival doesn’t actually fall on Earth Day, but on May 4th this year–it’s a celebration of stewardship, sustainability, and our beautiful planet, with interactive, educational activities for the whole family.
If your mouth is watering for the first strawberries of the season, head up to Slater and the Strawberry Festival, where, in addition to delicious strawberries, festival goers can enjoy entertainment, craft vendors, and plenty of other food.
The Spring in Bloom Festival and Bazaar in Mauldin includes a design center with an Ask a Master Gardener booth along with loads of plants for sale for your yard and garden–in addition to plenty of arts and crafts for sale, kids’ activities, music, and food trucks!
And then you can finish off your weekend with beer at the Tamassee Craft Brew Celebration on Sunday! Billed as “the original Oconee County craft beer festival,” there will be 20 different breweries sampling their wares, as well as lots of local food, music, and a home brew contest.
Keep your eye on our calendar for more festivals in the coming weeks–there are plenty more throughout the spring and summer!
If there’s anything better than seeing thousands of bright yellow rubber duckies bobbing and floating down the Reedy River, it’s knowing that each duck, adopted for a cost of $10 (or $30 for a quack pack of four), helps to fund a variety of charities supported by the Rotary Club of the Reedy River Greenville. One hundred percent of the money raised from the duck adoptions goes to charity, so you can feel good about adopting a duck for each member of your family.
The Duck Derby, now in its 15th year, is held on the first Saturday of May, rain or shine, and this year it’s on May 4th. In addition to the big race–whose winner receives a year’s worth of groceries from Publix–there is plenty of fun to be had, with music, face painting, a hat contest, dancing, and more!
To adopt a duck (or a family of ducks), click here. The goal is for 10,000 ducks to be adopted, and as of this writing, there are just over 6000 spoken for.
Bring the whole family for a day of fun at Reedy River Falls Park!