Elevating the Upstate with Grants Since 2013

    Elevating the Upstate with Grants Since 2013

    One of last year’s winners was the 96 Mill Village Association’s Movie in the Park series.

    Every year in June, Ten at the Top opens the application period for $5000 Elevate Upstate grants, given out every year for programs, projects, and initiatives that promote community vibrancy.

    Since 2013, Hughes Investments, Inc. has provided $80,000 in funds to 24 local communities as part of the Elevate Upstate Community Vibrancy Grant program.

    What is community vibrancy, anyway? Think of the things in your own community that make you proud to live where you live, that get you out of your house and interacting with your neighbors. Things that make your streets more attractive and celebrate what makes your community unique. Those are things that make your community vibrant.

    Phil Hughes, president of Hughes Investments, says, “The Elevate Upstate Grants are for those wishing to bring new life to their communities—a spark, a fresh idea, a new tradition—something that will excite the public and bring people together from all walks of life in a new way.”

    One of the winners from 2013, the first year the grants were awarded, has become a popular annual event in Greer.

    Past Elevate Upstate grant winners include public art projects, interactive outdoor education, downtown music, a food truck plaza, and more. The key element is that the proposed initiative will increase community vibrancy and sense of place and benefit the community as a whole. Take a look at the list of past winners here, with some video clips that explain the projects.

    Do you have a community vibrancy project that could use some funds to get off the ground? Do you want to find out more about how to navigate the process of applying for an Elevate Upstate grant? On July 16th, we’ll be hosting an Elevate Upstate Grant Workshop here at our event facility, and we’d love to see you there.

    The town of West Pelzer capitalized on its designation as a bird sanctuary and created an educational art installation of bird houses along Main Street.

    You’ll hear from Mary Anne Goodman from the Ninety Six Mill Village Association, who successfully applied for a grant to fund a community movie night. You’ll also hear from Coie Switzer and Curtiss Hunter from the Union Environmental Art and Music Festival, who were runners up and received a matching grant—and how they got the support they needed to launch their event a year ahead of schedule.

    For those interested in applying, an interest form is due by August 1st and the completed applications due by September 16th. Two grants of $5,000 each will be awarded at Ten at the Top’s annual Celebrating Successes event in November, where finalists will have the opportunity to present their proposed project before a final judgment is made.

    Article by Sharon Purvis

    Celebrating Our Independence in the Upstate

    Celebrating Our Independence in the Upstate

    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.

    Ridenour #upstatevibe365And 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!

    Mauldin’s Beachin’ Fridays keeps the festivities going on the 5th, with the 246 Army Band and Fireworks Show, and Cowpens National Battlefield closes out the week on a historical note with its Celebration of Freedom event on the 6th.

    Have we left out your Independence Day event? Tell us about it on our Facebook page—and you can always add your events to our calendar!

    Article by Sharon Purvis

    Small Town, Big Talent—Get In on the Act!

    Small Town, Big Talent—Get In on the Act!

    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?


    Article by Sharon Purvis

    Go on a Butterfly Adventure at Roper Mountain Science Center!

    Go on a Butterfly Adventure at Roper Mountain Science Center!

    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.

    Article by Sharon Purvis

    Chautauqua Festival in the Upstate: It’s Revolutionary!

    Chautauqua Festival in the Upstate: It’s Revolutionary!

    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.

    You Want Live Music? We’ve Got Live Music!

    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.

    And, last but not least, there is Piedmont Gas Downtown Alive in Greenville every Thursday at NOMA Square.

    So get out and enjoy some live music—and don’t forget to tag your concert photos with #UpstateVibe365!