Pick Your Festival

Pick Your Festival

There are several festivals going on this weekend around the Upstate—and they are so varied that there’s bound to be one for everyone! From beer to BBQ, cycling to high-end automobiles, pick your festival and go enjoy this fall weekend.

Walhalla Oktoberfest: From Friday to Sunday, Walhalla merchants and other local vendors will have crafts and food for sale for festival goers on Main Street, and on Sertoma Field, there will be music and rides as well as vendors.

EURO Auto Festival: If you’re into cars, head over to the Preserve at Verdae, where rare and familiar cars will be on display—and while you’re there, you can sample European food and culture and bring home some automotive-related souvenirs.

Gran Fondo Greenville Family Fun Festival: This weekend is the Gran Fondo Hincapie in Greenville, with both local and celebrity cyclists—but if you’re not riding, you can still join the fun with free food, drinks, music, and festivities at George Hincapie’s Hotel Domestique in Travelers Rest. Bring the kids with their bikes for children’s bike races!

Hogs & Hens BBQ Festival: The Hogs & Hens festival has been bringing visitors to Abbeville since 2013—with craft vendors, a kids zone, all-day music line-up, a petting zoo, and, of course, some amazing BBQ.

Pacolet Indian Summer Festival: A car show, performances by local school choruses and groups, children’s rides, along with plenty of craft and food vendors.

The NESS Fest: If funnel cake and festival food are not your thing, check out the health and lifestyle festival at Fluor Field, featuring workout classes, cooking demonstrations, activities for kids, and much more—all to promote wellNESS, goodNESS, fitNESS and wholeNESS.

Middle Eastern Food Festival: The St. Rafka Maronite Church in Greer is going to be serving up delicious Middle Eastern dishes all day to benefit the church. If you’ve got a hankering for some falafel, baba ghanoush, or tabbouleh—or if you’ve never tasted those things and want to try them, this is the festival for you!

Hub City Brew Fest: A $35 ticket gets you samples of 75 beers and ciders (please drink responsibly!) as well as live music and activities. There will also be food trucks and vendors on site. The event is to raise money for a multi-use bike park in downtown Spartanburg—the Bike Park at the Rail Yard.

And one more, for good measure. This is happening next weekend, not this one, but when there is such a thing as a Bigfoot Festival, you need to know about it! For hardcore believers and sasquatch skeptics alike, this Bigfoot-themed festival in Westminster is not to be missed.

The Charles Townes Art and Technology Experience

The Charles Townes Art and Technology Experience

Quick—who was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics? If you came up with Greenville native and Furman graduate Charles Townes (extra points if you also came up with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov, who received the award with him), then you’re going to love the Charles Townes Art and Technology Experience this Friday night in Travelers Rest. And if you didn’t come up with his name, you should definitely go see (and experience) the interactive art installation that uses light and sound to inspire curiosity and experimentation in viewers of all ages.

Created by multimedia artists Jeff Sumerel and Goda Rupeikaitė-Sumerel, the project was funded in part by a Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate grant, awarded last year at Ten at the Top’s Celebrate Successes event.

The husband-and-wife team were not, in fact, husband and wife when they began collaborating, but Goda’s work as a documentary director and producer as well as post-production specialist meshed with Jeff’s work as a documentary filmmaker—and they have become collaborators in life as well as in work.

According to a press release about this installation, “Jeff Sumerel and Goda Rupeikaitė-Sumerel create notable, one-of-a-kind stage and film works using traditional and non-traditional methods of production and collaboration to create entertaining, thought-provoking and memorable experiences for diverse audiences.”

Sumeral hopes that the curiosity sparked by this event will turn it into an annual event, bringing others in to create something new each year.

Asked what drew him to Townes, he says he was looking for a well-known Greenville native to celebrate, much like the town of Cheraw, SC has done with native son Dizzie Gillespie. He landed on Townes because “his spirit of curiosity, exploration, and risk-taking resonated not only with those working in science and technology but also those in the arts,” Sumeral says.

Photo credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt

So what exactly is an art and technology experience, and what can visitors expect? It’s not a laser show, nor a grand presentation or in-depth narrative about Townes, Sumeral explains. Rather, he says, it’s “an outdoor abstract multimedia installation that runs every 5 minutes,” with “a minimalistic film projection and audio soundtrack that incorporates quotes from Townes.”

Just bring your curiosity to the football field at Gateway Park in Travelers Rest on Friday, October 11th, between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m., to experience it for yourself! And if you find yourself wanting to know more about Townes, you can read about him here.

by Sharon Purvis

Stumphouse Park Offers Outdoor Activities for Everyone

Stumphouse Park Offers Outdoor Activities for Everyone

Click for a larger map of the trails.

Maintained by the city of Walhalla, Stumphouse Park is 440 acres of natural beauty and a recreational paradise. Within the park are picnic tables and a covered event pavilion that is available to rent for outdoor gatherings—but for those who really want to explore, there is much, much more.

The Stumphouse Tunnel was originally supposed to be a railroad tunnel connecting Charleston and Knoxville, but with the interruption of the Civil War, it was never finished. Today, it’s a family-friendly ¼ mile walk (flashlights recommended)—and its consistently cool temperature inside makes it a welcome treat in this unseasonably warm weather. It also creates ideal conditions for making blue cheese; Clemson University used it for that purpose in the 1940s and 1950s, until air conditioned cheese ripening rooms were built on campus in 1956.

Issaqueena Falls can be viewed from a platform accessible by a well-maintained trail that’s about a 5-minute walk from the parking area, and there’s an easy hike to the top of the falls.

At the top of the Issaqueena Falls parking lot is a trailhead for the Blueridge Railroad Trail, a moderate-to-strenuous hike that follows an incomplete railroad bed with two additional abandoned railroad tunnels—the Middle Tunnel, which has an opening that you can go inside, and the Saddleback Tunnel, which over the years has filled with water. The hike is 2.5 miles one way, so it’s a nice mid-length hike.

The Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park is ten miles of state-of-the-art bike trail, linking the town of Walhalla to the Palmetto Trail. The trails are multipurpose, so hikers may use the trail as well, although not horses. Click here for a short promotional video about the trail, and, if you’re so inclined, this one is a 15-minute video of YouTube user Newbie MTB riding the trail.

Park Entrance Fees: $5 per vehicle, $25 Annual Pass (Oconee County Residents), $35 Annual Pass (Non-Oconee County Residents), FREE for City of Walhalla Residents. Annual Passes can be purchased at Walhalla City Hall.



Union’s Environmental Art and Music Festival Celebrates Art and Nature

Union’s Environmental Art and Music Festival Celebrates Art and Nature

In 2018, Union’s Piedmont Physic Garden applied for an Elevate Upstate grant to help pay for a unique kind of festival: an art and music festival, but one that focuses on conservation and environmental awareness. For the first time in the five years that Hughes Investments had been awarding the grants, in addition to the winning projects, the PCC was awarded a matching grant of $3000 for the festival—and that was the impetus for raising the remaining funds ($1500 each from Union City Council and Union County Council) and getting the community behind the project.

Coie Switzer, director of the Piedmont Physic Garden, says, “We want to thank Ten at the Top and Hughes Investments for giving The Environmental Art and Music Festival its start. The $3,000 matching grant gave us the boost we needed to start this positive community vibrancy initiative in Union.”

In addition to the Piedmont Physic Garden, six other groups have come alongside to partner in this endeavor: USC-Union, Union County Tourism, Union County Arts Council, Union County Historical Society, Union Carnegie Library, and Union County Chamber of Commerce. The fruits of their labor will be realized this weekend, with the first-ever Environmental Art and Music Festival.

The festival celebrates Union County’s natural beauty and culture. It will take place in the heart of historic downtown Union, SC. The Vendor Village will take place on the campus of USC-Union’s Patrons Park, including food trucks and a mix of craftsmen, artists, and others whose works are based on sustaining natural products and resources. Click here to read more about it, from Linda Wilburn Weber of the PCC.

The festival will also include art exhibits at USC-Union’s Main Building, the Union County Museum, the Piedmont Physic Garden, the Union County Arts Council gallery and the Union Carnegie Library in addition to a Main Street Arts Stroll.

FREE outdoor music concerts will be held on Friday and Saturday nights at USC-Union’s Patron’s Park.

Schedule of Events

THURSDAY, SEPT. 26th Union County Arts Council 2019 Annual Art Exhibition Award Ceremony & Opening Reception @USC-Union Main Building 6 PM

Vendor Village @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 10 AM – 5 PM
UCAC 2019 Annual Art Exhibition @ USC-Union’s Main Building 10 AM – 5 PM
Sculpture Exhibit @ Piedmont Physic Garden 10 AM – 5 PM
Children and Teen Art Exhibit @ Union Carnegie Library 10 AM – 5 PM
Art Exhibit featuring Eola Dent at Union County Museum 10 AM – 5 PM
Art Exhibit featuring Thomas A. Tucker at UCAC Gallery 10 AM – 5 PM
Main Street Art Stroll 10 AM – 5 PM
Free Family-Friendly Bluegrass Concert featuring Tri County Express @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 5 PM – 7 PM
Free Rock Concert featuring Dazed Renegade @USC-Union’s Patrons Park 7 PM – 9 PM

Vendor Village @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 10 AM – 5 PM
UCAC 2019 Annual Art Exhibition @ USC-Union’s Main Building 10 AM – 5 PM
Sculpture Exhibit @ Piedmont Physic Garden 10 AM – 5 PM
Children and Teen Art Exhibit @ Union Carnegie Library 10 AM – 5 PM
Art Exhibit featuring Eola Dent at Union County Museum 10 AM – 5 PM
Art Exhibit featuring Thomas A. Tucker at UCAC Gallery 10 AM – 5 PM
Main Street Art Stroll 10 AM – 5 PM
Live Music featuring Jordan Lawson 12 PM – 2 PM
Free concert featuring Nashville musician and Grammy nominated songwriter, Robert Arthur and Union band, QUEST @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 7 PM – 9 PM


The Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail, Where Every Quilt Tells a Story

The Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail, Where Every Quilt Tells a Story

It all started in 2009 with one quilt square mounted on the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla.

The Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce had a ribbon cutting for their new quilt square on September 13th.

Today, the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail has more than 250 quilt panels mounted on barns, businesses, homes, and public buildings across Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties. One of the most recent squares was mounted on the building of the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce on September 13th—a replica of a mid-19th century quilt pattern known as Noon Day Lilies.

The idea was based on similar quilt trails in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Oconee County was the first county in South Carolina to embrace the quilt trail concept after a group of dedicated citizens came together to establish the Oconee Heritage Quilt Trail in an effort to promote Oconee County. The first quilt square was sponsored by the Wynward Point Ladies Group and was mounted on the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla in the fall of 2009.

The quilts are unique designs and each painted quilt panel is a copy of an existing quilt that usually has some historical connection with the sponsoring family or organization. The quilt panels are painted by volunteers on weather-resistant wooden panels using quality outdoor paint.

The tagline of the project is, “Every Quilt Tells a Story, and Every Story Leads to a Discovery”—and the stories of each quilt can be found on the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail website. The current owner of the quilt that is replicated on the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce comes from several generations of Pickens County residents; the quilt was a prized possession of her grandmother, the daughter of a circuit rider preacher who established several churches in the area.

Resting Place, by Gail Sexton, is at 306 Main Street in Pickens

Another quilt, called “Resting Place,” is the design of Gail Sexton, who made her first quilt in 1971 but did not begin quilting in earnest until the mid-1980s. So, while many of the quilt squares have a historical significance, others are the creations of contemporary quilters who have taken an interest in keeping the art form alive.

A pdf map of the quilt trail, along with GPS coordinates, can also be found on the website. Please keep in mind that these quilt squares are on private property and should be viewed and photographed from public roads. Many owners may allow a closer look if you ask their permission.

A festival celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail—called the Airing of the Quilts—will be held in downtown Westminster on October 5th.

Article by Sherry Jackson, with updates by Sharon Purvis

Revolutionary War Sites in the Upstate

Revolutionary War Sites in the Upstate

Did you know that there were more battles and skirmishes fought right here in South Carolina than in any other colony during the Revolutionary War? And you can visit the sites, immersing yourself in our state’s—and our country’s—history.

Kings Mountain National Military Park

Dubbed “the turn of the tide of success” by Jefferson Davis, the battle of Kings Mountain was the first major patriot triumph after the British invasion of Charleston and was an important American victory. The significant battle took place on October 7, 1780 and although only an hour long, it changed the course of the Revolutionary War.

The 4000-acre park is one of the largest revolutionary war sites in the country. Located near Blacksburg in Cherokee County, the park features a 1.5 mile battle trail, an exhibit area, and a 26-minute film that shows every 45 minutes.

The park is free and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (it stays open until 6:00 p.m. on weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day).

Cowpens National Battlefield

The battle at Cowpens was a major victory for colonial forces and was key to the surrender of British Commander Cornwallis that ultimately led to the end of the war in 1783.

The 845-acre park features a Visitor’s Center, the battlefield area, a walking trail, and an auto loop trail.

Check the web site for fees, hours of operation, special events, and park holidays.

Ninety Six National Historic Site

This site actually is home to two Revolutionary War battle sites that claimed the lives of over one hundred settlers. The first Southern battle of the war was fought here. The Visitor’s Center has a twenty minutes film which depicts the battles and an exhibit gallery.

The Visitor’s Center is free and open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. except for New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, and Thanksgiving Day. The grounds are open daylight to dusk.

Check the web site for fees, hours of operation, special events, and park holidays.

Historic Brattonsville

This is considered to be one of the most important and heavily visited historical sites in South Carolina. With over 775 acres and 30 buildings, it’s steeped in Revolutionary history.

The Battle of Huck’s Defeat was an important event in the Revolutionary War and was fought at Brattonsville. In 1780, a British Legion under the command of Captain Christian Huck was dispatched by loyalist Lieutenant Colonel Turnbull to destroy Whig militia camps in the area. Huck was also given instruction by Turnbull to capture Colonel William Bratton (and others) who had just returned home to enlist more recruits for the war. The Whigs heard of this plan, rallied against the British soldiers and won the battle, killing Captain Huck in the process. This battle is believed to have revived the morale of the people in South Carolina and was the beginning of a series of victories including battles at Kings Mountain and Cowpens, which eventually led to the British surrendering at Yorktown in 1781.

Historic Brattonsville, located in York County, is open Tuesday through Saturday: 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Keep in mind, though, if you are going on a Saturday, the interpreters usually leave around 3 p.m. Check the web site for admission prices and special events.

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site

The battle that took place at Musgrove Mill on August 19, 1780 was a short (about 30 minutes) but very bloody battle. In fact, Isaac Shelby, a Colonel who fought both at Musgrove Mill and Kings Mountain stated in his memoirs that the battle at Musgrove Mill was the fiercest battle in which he ever fought. The brief battle was between a small detachment of Colonial Patriots and a larger group of British Loyalists. But despite the odds, the Patriots were victorious and the battle was considered an important turning point in the war.

The park is free and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Oconee Station State Historic Site

There were no revolutionary battles fought at Oconee Station, but its claim to fame is that it served as a military compound and trading post. The stone blockhouse was used as an outpost by the South Carolina State Militia from 1792 until 1799 as is the only remaining building of the fort Oconee Station.

Walnut Grove Plantation

Located near Roebuck, this plantation was established in 1765 from a 550-acre land grant. The Moore family, who owned Walnut Grove Plantation, were active Patriot supporters and allowed the militia to muster there during the war. Loyalist William Cunningham killed three Patriot soldiers sheltered at the plantation in 1781.

Walnut Grove is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. They are closed Mondays and holidays and hours change November through March so it’s best to check their website for hours and admission fees before you visit.

Also, as you are driving around, be on the lookout for historical markers. There are 495 U.S. Revolutionary War historical markers in South Carolina alone. For a complete list, visit the Historical Marker Database.

by Sherry Jackson