Great Times for Great Causes: 22nd Blue Ridge Fest

Great Times for Great Causes: 22nd Blue Ridge Fest

by Dewey Evans

Thousands descend upon downtown Pickens, SC each spring for the Blue Ridge Fest, an effort created and operated by Blue Ridge Electric Co-op employee volunteers to raise money for local charities within their four county service area.

Blue Ridge Electric, which has long championed charitable community causes, decided in 1998 to combine the company’s philanthropic efforts and energies into one large, vibrant community event. An employee committee reviews over 100 applications annually, and must make the tough decisions on which charities will receive funding from the event. Visit the 2019 Blue Ridge Fest Charities webpage to view this year’s funding recipients.

Jim Lovinggood, President & CEO of Blue Ridge Electric Co-op, had this to say:

“On behalf of Blue Ridge Electric Co-op employees, I would like to invite you to the 22nd annual Blue Ridge Fest. This year promises to be one of the most entertaining with performances by The Oak Ridge Boys, The Tams and Jim Quick and Coastline! Over the past 21 years, Blue Ridge Fest has generated over $2.8 million dollars to support local Upstate communities. The proceeds from this event will be given to 12 local charities serving Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens counties. We hope you enjoy this night of great times for great causes.”


In addition to the live musical entertainment and delicious food, festivalgoers enjoy the largest Classic Car Cruise-in in the Upstate— classics such as Model A Fords, Studebakers, hot-rods, and more.



After the highly anticipated performance of The Oak Ridge Boys (and perhaps a little dancing), the evening culminates with a raffle drawing of three cash prizes, with first prize winning $10,000! A raffle ticket can be purchased for $5, or 5 tickets for $20. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets, or you can get tickets at the Blue Ridge offices in Pickens and Oconee.

Ten at the Top Is Hiring!

Ten at the Top Is Hiring!

Ten at the Top is seeking an individual to serve as Collective Capacity Coordinator.

Job purpose: The mission of Ten at the Top is to foster collaboration and increase collective capacity across the 10-county Upstate SC region around issues that impact economic vitality and quality of life. The Collective Capacity Coordinator is responsible for coordinating, facilitating and implementing meetings, initiatives, activities and programs focused around key regional issues within the five driver areas of the Our Upstate Vision.

Basic Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Minimum of five years of full-time work experience in a professional setting
  • Experience coordinating work groups, volunteers or committees
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office products (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)
  • Writing proficiency (please provide samples)
  • Attention to detail and the ability to produce quality work in a timely manner
  • Ability to manage multiple projects or initiatives at one time
  • Ability to work independently and accomplish tasks with minimal daily supervision
  • Knowledge of South Carolina’s Upstate
  • Strong organizational and customer service skills

Key responsibilities:
1. Coordinate regular meetings, activities and initiatives for task forces and committees around the five driver areas of the Our Upstate Vision.
2. Regularly communicate with task force, committee members and other volunteers.
3. Conduct research related to projects, initiatives and driver areas.
4. Write reports, white papers, summaries and support material as needed.
5. Regularly update web site components with information related to task forces and committees.
6. Facilitate committee and task force meetings.
7. Conduct presentations and represent organization in a professional manner at meetings and community events.
8. Become familiar with key stakeholders within task force areas and across the ten Upstate counties.
9. Flexible schedule that allows for occasional attendance at early morning or late afternoon meetings as well as travel across the Upstate and occasionally to other parts of South Carolina.
10. Writing and coordinating the mailing of correspondence to funding partners and stakeholders across the Upstate.
11. Manage mailing lists including task forces, elected officials, board of directors and other stakeholder groups.
12. Coordinate community workshops and regional forums.
13. Regularly share TATT information through social media.
14. Other duties as assigned by the Executive Director.

Position Information:

  • Full-time 40-hour per week salaried position
  • Salary Range: $40,000-$50,000 (depending on experience and background)
  • Benefits include company health insurance, paid vacation, cell phone stipend and paid holidays
  • Applications will be considered when received until position is filled

Submission Information:

Interested candidates should send cover letter (including specific experience as a capacity builder), resume and support materials by e-mail or standard mail to:
Dean Hybl
Executive Director
Ten at the Top
150 Executive Center Drive, Suite 202
Greenville, SC 29615

Congratulations to Main Street Laurens’ Jonathan Irick

Congratulations to Main Street Laurens’ Jonathan Irick

Jonathan Irick, Director of Main Street Laurens since 2006, has worked hard to make downtown Laurens a place that locals can be proud of and that visitors will want to return to, and he was recently awarded the Main Street America Revitalization Professional Credential. Congratulations, Jonathan!

A press release from Main Street America said of Irick and Main Street Laurens, “During his tenure as the Director of Main Street Laurens, Jonathan has continued to lead the program and its many volunteers to become a model program both across the state and nationally. Main Street Laurens is a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote, improve and preserve the unique character and economic vitality of downtown Laurens.”

In 2014, Main Street Laurens won a Hughes Investment Elevate Upstate grant, presented by Ten at the Top, for the Finally Friday on the Square program. It was billed as a “celebration of all things Laurens,” with live music to bring people into the historic downtown area from April through September. The $5000 grant allowed Laurens to pay for the music artists for all of 2015, but the music was just the beginning—other attractions include free trolley rides, extended business hours, and special treats like an ice cream social.

Main Street Laurens’ Facebook page lists events, including the upcoming Sip ‘n’ Stroll Wine Tasting on April 25, and promotes local businesses. If you haven’t visited downtown Laurens recently, check out one of their events, visit their businesses, and be sure to tag any photos you take with #upstatevibe365!

All photos courtesy of Main Street Laurens

Cancer Survivors Park

Cancer Survivors Park

Photo credit: Mark Susko Visual Design

There is an oasis in the heart of downtown Greenville that was created specifically for the purpose of healing and renewal—of hope and moving forward.

That place is Cancer Survivors Park, and it is open to anyone who has been touched by cancer—which, let’s face it, is just about everyone. The park’s vision is to “change the way we live with cancer.”

Conceived originally by a group known as Patients First, the idea was for cancer patients to have a space outside of a clinical setting to reconnect with themselves, with nature, and with their loved ones—but also a space that would give those patients and their families access to resources, information, and support.

As the space became a reality in the Cancer Survivors Park, Patients First changed its name to Cancer Survivors Park Alliance (CSPA). Once the park was complete, it was turned over to the city of Greenville to be maintained as part of the Parks Department, but the CSPA still actively hosts a variety of exercise and wellness programs for cancer patients and survivors at the park and other venues as part of their mission.

The park, situated off of the Swamp Rabbit Trail between Church and Cleveland Streets, features a boardwalk to connect the park to Church Street, a pavilion/education center, a labyrinth for meditation and contemplation, an outdoor amphitheater, and a suspension footbridge.

If you have been touched by cancer, or if you know someone who is dealing with cancer, be sure to stop by the park, check out the education center, and take advantage of the support offered by the CSPA.

Photo credit: Mark Susko Visual Design

Young Professionals Gather for Fourth Annual PIQUE

Ten at the Top hosted over 300 young professionals at the Greenville ONE Center on Monday for the fourth annual PIQUE: Young Leaders Elevating the Upstate, presented by ScanSource and emceed by WSPA-TV’s Jamarcus Gaston. From discussions about the spoken and unspoken generational differences in the workplace and the steps needed to take to moving up the career ladder, attendees were engaged, alert, and ready to ask their burning questions throughout the entire event. Following the wrap-up panel, young professionals enjoyed food and beverages thanks to Coffee Underground, Cribbs Catering, and Growler Haus as well as a live art demonstration by Clemson-based artist Peter Barry sponsored by the Melting Pot Music Society. (All photos courtesy of Bart Boatwright.)

WSPA-TV’s Jamarcus Gaston welcomes attendees to the 4th annual PIQUE.

Chunsta Miller, General Manager of the Anderson Mall, gave a presentation on Developing Executive Courage.




Young professionals had the chance to talk with executives from a variety of fields in the Executive Networking Roundtables.


Networking is a time for making new connections, but also finding a familiar face.

Sessions were engaging and interactive, with plenty of audience participation.

In a panel session on Moving up the Ladder, West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders (left), Leesa Owens, Director of Government and Community Relations at Michelin (center), and Dr. Jermaine Whirl, Vice President of Learning and Workforce Development at Greenville Tech (right) shared steps young professionals can make to prepare themselves for advancement.

A Triumph for Greenville: Professional Soccer

A Triumph for Greenville: Professional Soccer

by Sharon Purvis

In addition to baseball and hockey, sports lovers in the Upstate will soon have a new professional team to cheer for: The Greenville Triumph, part of the United Soccer League One.

On Saturday, March 23rd at 11:30 a.m., soccer fans will have an opportunity to see the team play for free in a scrimmage against the Furman University team at Eugene Stone Stadium.

Following the scrimmage, the first home game will be on April 6th, against the Lansing Ignite—and “home” for the home games is the Legacy Early College stadium on the west side of Greenville. The season lasts through early October, with the final home game being on September 27th against Orlando City B. Single game tickets are on sale now.

League One soccer is roughly analogous to AA baseball, although not all teams are farm teams for the major league—some, like the Greenville Triumph, are independent teams that are unaffiliated with another team.

As this is a new league, most of the teams, like Greenville, are playing in borrowed space for now, with some of the feeder teams playing temporarily at the major league soccer stadium, and a couple playing in baseball stadiums. There are currently ten teams in the league, with a couple of expansion teams in the works.

Looking towards a permanent playing facility, the Triumph front office is looking at three or four sites, some closer to downtown, and some out in the suburbs of Greenville. “We’re hoping that sometime this year we can announce that a site has been selected,” says Doug Erwin, Chief Brand Officer for the Triumph.

Until then, temporary stadium seating, much like what is used at golf tournaments, gives the Legacy Early College soccer field a capacity for about 4,000. While that won’t be left behind for the school, a new, permanent scoreboard will, along with some other amenities around the stadium.

The team is committed to being involved in the community around Legacy, which is a somewhat underserved community within Greenville. Free soccer clinics in the neighborhood are one way of giving back to the community, giving those students some exposure to the game that they might not have had before, Erwin says.

Recruitment for the team pulls from three groups of players: those coming straight out of college, those who have played professionally before and have either had their careers derailed by injury or decide to make the move to League One in order to increase their playing time, and international players who want an opportunity to play in the U.S.

“The soccer world is one where coaches know where to find players,” Erwin says, and the Triumph’s recruitment strategy involved a smart coaching hire in head coach John Harkes. “Three or four of our players have played for our coach at his previous coaching posts.”

“Much like with college athletic recruitment, you are recruiting to a place,” he continues, and the Upstate is attractive to players. There is one player on the team who is originally from the Upstate, but other than that, they come from all over.

The team hopes to be an Upstate team, not just a Greenville team, Erwin says. With the ever-increasing popularity of soccer for kids of all ages, having a professional team in Greenville will give soccer fans all over the Upstate reason to cheer.