Get ready for "A Blooming Good Time!" 51st SC Festival of Flowers main weekend June 1-3
By: St. Claire Donaghy
The main weekend for the 51st South Carolina Festival of Flowers is June 1-3, and the “blooming good time” continues through the month of June, with more than 40 events in all.
There’s the signature topiary display, Kidfest, sporting events, arts, music and garden tours, to name a few.
Angelle LaBorde, president and CEO of the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Festival of Flowers, said this festival has a strong tradition of excellence and longevity.
“The addition of the topiaries have reinvented this festival,” LaBorde said. “This festival attracts garden lovers and festival-goers and is a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 event.”
Beginning Thursday, there will be some road closures associated with the main festival weekend.
According to Uptown Greenwood manager Lara Hudson:
Thursday, a short section of Alliance/Oregon Avenue (Maxwell to the traffic Circle, leaving the traffic circle open) closes at 11 a.m. It will remain closed until 1 p.m. Sunday. Access parking on Oregon Avenue from the Main Street side of Oregon Avenue.
Saturday, Maxwell Avenue from Edgefield Street to Monument Street closes at 6 a.m. and it will remain closed until 6 p.m.
For the month of June last year, LaBorde said the Festival of Flowers had a $5.9 million economic impact.
“It’s a huge economic driver for our community,” LaBorde said, plus, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.
The opening main weekend includes more than 20 events. Get all the details for that and others throughout June at: SCFestivalOfFlowers.org. A detailed, full-color festival booklet is also available at the Greenwood Chamber and other locations.
Commemorative T-shirts are also on sale.
Nod to history
“This all started 51 years ago, in the summer of 1968, to coincide with the 100th anniversary celebration of George W. Park Seed Co., highlighting the company’s show gardens,” LaBorde said. “Park Seed is celebrating 150 years this year and they are our presenting sponsor. This year, our Happy Anniversary topiary cake is celebrating that anniversary. And, an exhibit at The Museum is on the history of Park Seed. It opens at 6 p.m. Thursday.”
LaBorde said crowd favorites include the arts and crafts show, Friday and Saturday at Uptown Market on Maxwell Avenue, and the return of the photography exhibit and contest, Friday and Saturday at Think Tank on Main, 206 Main St.
“We brought the photography contest back last year and it continues,” LaBorde said. “This year, it’s in a space near the Arts Center and exhibits at The Musuem. It’s easy to get to walking around Uptown.
“The signature topiary exhibit is the festival highlight,” LaBorde added. “We have two new topiaries this year – Stanley, the Stork, near Uptown Family Practice, and Emmett, The Citadel Bulldog at Uptown Market. There is also a Citadel Family Rally at 6 p.m. June 7, at Uptown Market. We have 42 official topiaries gracing the Uptown area.”
LaBorde said there is demand from local companies to add new living plant sculptures every year.
“Topiary preparation really begins 12 months in advance,” LaBorde said, noting different groups sponsor topiaries and other step in to plug them with plants. “Festival organizers are grateful for the City of Greenwood, its horticulture staff, Lakelands Master Gardeners and topiary volunteers.”
The festival’s main weekend is its biggest draw, LaBorde said, with a packed Thursday through Sunday of activities.
“Sporting events kick off the main weekend and continue through the month,” LaBorde said. “The Bee Buzzin’ Bike Tour follows the second weekend, June the 9th. It was tremendously popular last year.”
Top tennis players and golfers also turn out for the Junior Open Tennis Tournament, the Jimmy Self Junior Golf Tournament and the Men’s Invitational Amateur and Senior Championship Golf Tournament.
Every year, festival garden tours attract crowds, LaBorde said, and the festival is bringing back a Greenwood historic churches tour on the main weekend.
GLEAMNS Human Resources Commission is sponsoring a free evening of gospel music Saturday at the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation site, emceed by local vocalist and radio personality Louise Robinson. Tours of the Mays site are June 2 and 3.
Those events, like many on the schedule, have free admission. Others, such as the Topiaries and Tastings Wine Walk, Jazz Brunch and Tour, Greenwood Performing Arts Antiques Vintage and Design Show and Sale, Greenwood Festival Chorale performance and “Into the Woods,” a musical at Greenwood Community Theatre, require ticket purchases.
Karen Jennings, executive director of The Museum and Railroad Historical Center, said the staff is excited to host a first-time event, a ticketed Jazz Brunch, June 3, at the railroad center.
Steven G and the JRs are performing. The center’s new deck will have a crepes station for the buffet brunch, with decadent fillings including shrimp, andouille sausage, cream cheese and fruit. Sip mimosas and enjoy savories and sweets, all by Old Main Catering.
Tour seven historic train cars, six of which have been completely restored and the gardens. Call 864-229-7093 for tickets.
Dovetailing nicely with flowers and gardens and topiaries are a number of festival events tying into Greenwood’s Bee City USA status: a presentation on planting for pollinators and other wildlife, farming with beneficial insects and a Life of Honeybees Observation Hive at Emerald Farm, to name a few.
Richard Thomason, 2018 Festival of Flowers chairman, with Countybank Mortgage, said he’s already having fun, having kicked off festival happenings with the annual Ladies Luncheon on Wednesday.
“It’s happy stuff,” Thomason said. “This festival is so recognizable that I have been able to pick up new sponsors, easily. Bringing in the topiaries has been genius and it really works for this festival.”
Topiaries, Thomason said, are “absolute works of art” utilizing anywhere from two to 50 different live plants.
“They use beneficial insects for the care of the topiaries,” Thomason said. “It’s so much more complex than people realize.”
Thomason said one of his personal festival favorites has long been the arts and crafts show.
“That was the first thing I went to when I was six or seven years old,” he said. “My mother’s sisters and their children would come to town and we would all do festival stuff.
“New stuff I’m excited about including the Blooming Uptown Live Concert Friday night and the Saturday gospel performances and tours at the Benjamin E. Mays site on Saturday and Sunday.”
From an ice cream social at Cokesbury College on Sunday to an Army Band concert June 26, the festival has much to offer, Thomason said.