From Rand McNally’s 2012 Festival Guide
Temperate weather in South Carolina makes fall a great festival season. Warm, sometimes hot, September days mean you can stretch summer out, perhaps celebrating at a crafts festival near Myrtle Beach or heading to the northwest corner of the state for a culinary festival in Greenville.
October’s slightly cooler days and gently chilled nights are perfect for enjoying farm exhibits and midway attractions at the state fair in Columbia or great music at the state jazz festival in Cheraw. In November, don a sweater and head for St. Helena Island, to celebrate Gullah culture, or to the town of Salley to celebrate chitlins.
Eurphoria, Greenville. Eat, drink, be merry, and boost your culinary know-how at this weekend celebration of food, wine, and music. Gather trade secrets from nationally acclaimed chefs and master sommeliers at festival workshops, where you’ll learn how to prepare “wow-em'” meals and exactly why pinot noir is called the “seductress of red wine.” These gastronomic lessons are easy to digest, especially paired with fabulous live music. Wine and food tastings take place on streets and in restaurants around town all weekend. Multicourse dinners tend to sell out quickly, so book ahead if you can. Thurs., Sept.20—Sun., Sept. 23, 2012.
Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival, Murrells Inlet. Huntington Beach State Park, in Murrells Inlet, a 30-minute drive south of Myrtle Beach, is home to an unusual structure: A Mediterranean-style (almost Moorish) mansion built in 1931 by Archer Huntington, an industrialist, and his wife, Anna, a sculptress. Given Anna’s artistic bent, it seems entirely fitting that, each year, jewelry, metal work, and other unique creations get the royal treatment with displays inside Atalaya Castle. Outside the “royal” walls, great music, lowcountry cuisine, and beach parties reign. Fri., Sept. 28—Sun., Sept. 30, 2012.
South Carolina State Fair, Columbia. Have a rollicking good time in the state capital and do a world of good at this fair, where your admission dollars go to charities and college scholarships. All the more reason to take in a lumberjack show or ride hairpin turns on the roller coaster, right? Munching locally grown food is a must, of course, and fried corn on the cob (a festival favorite) is atop everyone’s list. Take your kids to see the prize-winning produce and farm animals and the free stage shows. Try to attend at least one of the big-name grandstand concerts, and be sure not to miss the sculpture made with 75 tons of sand. Wed., Oct. 10—Sun., Oct. 21, 2012.
South Carolina Jazz Festival, Cheraw. John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was born on October 21, 1917, in this town roughly 100 miles northeast of the state capital. Each year, round about the anniversary of his birthday, the legendary trumpeter is honored in his hometown with a birthday party, a bebop parade, and jazz performances by talented local groups and national headliners. Other events include a golf tournament, a chalk-drawing competition, a 5K run/walk, and lots of kids activities. Also, be sure to stop the chamber of commerce for information on the self-guided cell-phone tour of key Dizzy sights. Thurs., Oct. 18—Sun., Oct. 21, 2012.
Penn Center Heritage Days, St. Helena Island. The Penn Center, on one of the state’s Sea Islands just south of Charleston, is truly a national treasure. It was founded by missionaries in the 1860s as a school to provide emancipated slaves with new skills and trades. It continued with such endeavors will into the 20th century, and today it is cultural center dedicated to preserving the traditions and heritage of the Gullah (as African Americans in this region are known) community. At this weekend immersion experience, you can learn about weaving sea grass baskets and making fishing nets by hand, listen to stories and music, and experience other aspects of Gullah culture. Fri., Nov. 9—Sun., Nov. 11, 2012.
Chitlin’ Strut, Salley. At this festival in a town just northwest of Charleston, you can try chitlins, a.k.a. deep-fried pig intestines. Think of it as your chance to go hog wild. Think of it as your chance to take a break from all that Thanksgiving turkey. There are also hog-calling competitions, carnival rides, and the opportunity to strut your stuff in the annual dance contest. Sat., Nov. 24, 2012.
Check out our related road trips like Grand Along the Strand from North Myrtle Beach to Georgetown and The British Were Here from Camden to Sumter for additional information and suggestions on South Carolina sights, restaurants and tours.