Festival season returns with something for everyone: rides and games, flowers and crafts, a rodeo and more across the area


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Sumter Farmers Market is up and running from noon to 5 p.m. Fridays through Nov. 22 at USC Sumter, 200 Miller Road. Grab some lunch at one of the many food trucks and purchase quality, farm-fresh products and unique hand-crafted items all at the market. SFMNP-Senior and WIC vouchers are accepted.

The Heart of Sumter Neighborhood Association returns for its annual Art in the Park outdoor art show on Saturday, April 20. Arts and craft vendors, live entertainment from Johnny Hilton, Family & Friends as well as food, drinks and free kid-friendly arts and crafts activities will be available throughout the day. Palmetto Optimist Club will also host its Reading in the Park and Book Drive the same day. Art in the Park will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sumter Memorial Park, 419 W. Hampton Ave. Visit HSNASumterSC.com for more information.

Celebrate the Earth with Dorr Farms' Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendees can enjoy a garden tour, pet barnyard animals, play on the playground, have a picnic, decorate a beehive, learn about honeybees and flex your green thumb by planting your own veggies. The fun-filled day will take place at 5225 Dorr Acres Road in Gable.

Take a trip back in time to the 1930s-'50s with the iconic sounds of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington during Jukebox Saturday Night at Sumter Opera House on April 26. Tickets range from $23 to $28. To stay updated on the latest shows to take center stage, follow the Opera House on social media or sign up for its weekly newsletter at sumteroperahouse.com.

Shiloh Project-Lift plans a Spring Festival at St. John School, 4515 Narrow Paved Road, Lynchburg, on April 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help fundraise for the school's renovation. It will include activities for all, including three-on-three basketball competitions, kickball, cornhole, 50/50 chances, bingo, chances to win a 2006 Chrysler Sebring, grilled specials (A Taste of Shiloh), music and singing to start the summer off in grand style. Political leaders are invited, and there will be something for everyone to enjoy. It will also include the grand opening for the newly renovated sports field, made possible through funding from the Central Carolina Foundation. For more information, call (803) 459-7463 or (803) 983-5550 to register for the three-on-three tournament.

If you're looking for a unique, free outdoor experience for kite beginners and experts, the Inaugural Kite Festival will soar high in the sky in April. Aside from mesmerizing kites, there will be various activities to enjoy, including kite-making workshops, indulging in delicious foods and listening to live music throughout the day. The festival will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at Patriot Park, 380 General Drive, Field 6.

The 20th-annual Birdfest Music Festival will be held Friday-Saturday, May 3-4, at the South Carolina Waterfowl Association Education Center at 8444 Old River Road in Pinewood. The musical lineup will include Steep Canyon Rangers, Chatham County Line, Jon Stickley Trio, The Big Daddy Bluegrass Trio and much more. Visit birdfestmusic.com for more details and to purchase tickets.

Get ready for Sumter Microbrew's Hippie Fest on Friday, May 10. Palmetto Optimist Club will bring you peace, love and brews throughout downtown Sumter from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Follow Palmetto Optimist Club on Facebook for more information and ticket sales information.

Sumter County Ag + Art Tour - The free, self-guided tour of farms and markets features local artisans at every stop and will take place Saturday-Sunday, May 11-12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Six stops will be on the tour, taking attendees to a farmers market, a farm store, a boutique and, of course, farms. For a list of locations, visit agandarttour.com/sumter.

The famous three-day Iris Festival surrounding the blooming of the irises at Swan Lake Iris Gardens will include concerts, arts and crafts, plants and flowers, antique and classic car shows, various contests and many children's activities. The festival will be held Thursday-Sunday, May 23-26, at Swan Lake Iris Gardens, 822 W. Liberty St.

The legacy of African American cowboys and frontiersmen will be celebrated at the annual Black Cowboy Festival and Rodeo. Education, recreation and cultural appreciation can be expected throughout the three-day affair. The festival will be held Thursday-Sunday, May 23-26, at Greenfield Farms, 4585 Spencer Road in Rembert.


Join in on the fun of the 2024 Puddin' Swamp Festival on Saturday, April 13, in Turbeville Town Square. On Saturday, the events will include the Heart Walk, a car show, dance troupes, craft fair, food and rides, DJ music and the Miss Swamp Bottom "Beauty" Contest. Bingo will be held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Bring a lawn chair and meet at the stage. Kids under 13 must have a parent present to play. Fireworks will finish the festival at 9:30 p.m. The car show will include all makes, models and years. Trophy categories include: Best of Class (through 1959, 1960-'80, 1981-'99), Best All Original Classic and Best Modern Car and Truck (2000-'24).

Get comfortable with new car technology by taking the AARP Smart DriverTek course to become familiar with all the latest car tech features. This free 90-minute course is followed by the AARP free CarFit program to improve your safety and comfort and reduce your risk of injury during a crash by making the proper adjustments to ensure your car "fits" you properly. You do not have to be an AARP member to attend the classes on Saturday, April 20, at the Southern Methodist Church of Summerton, 1107 Felton Road. Please call (830) 308-9241 for information and registration.

Clarendon County Striped Bass Festival returns for its 43rd year on Friday-Saturday, April 26-27, from a Friday night out at a downtown concert to Super Saturday, which kicks off with the Striped Bass Festival Parade at 10 a.m. Vendors, car and art shows and food trucks will be on site for the whole family to enjoy. The two-day festival will begin Friday at 6 p.m. in downtown Manning.

The Shake, Rattle and Read Toddler Storytime for ages up to 4 will be held at 10:30 a.m. each Wednesday at Harvin Clarendon County Library. The program will include a story, singing, dancing and an activity for the library's little patrons to enjoy. The library's Homeschool Connection Club for ages preschool to high school will be held at 11 a.m. every Friday. This program was created to connect homeschool families with resources available with the local community and the public library.

Enjoy a free Silver Screen Matinee at 2 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Harvin Clarendon County Library, 215 N. Brooks St., Manning. Everyone is invited to attend. For more information, log onto clarendoncountylibrary.com or call (803) 435-8633.

Buy gently used but new-to-you items at Clarendon Club's annual Giant Community Yard Sale on Saturday, April 13, starting at 8 a.m. Find the treasures at 1219 Dingle Pond Road, Summerton. For more information, email ccweddingsandevents@outlook.com or call (803) 478-2010.

Palmetto Pickle Music Festival will kick off on Saturday, May 18, at 7301 Salem Road in New Zion. Featured artists will include Charlie Floyd performing at 6 p.m. and Sawyer Brown performing at 8 p.m. Concert gates open at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30 online and can be purchased at ticketleap.com/picklefest.


Germany's Great Bavarian Circus makes its Columbia debut at the S.C. State Fairgrounds, 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia, now through April 21. Tickets are on sale now at https://bavariancircus.com/city/columbia-sc/ for this extravaganza that melds the essence of Oktoberfest with the allure of the circus. Producers and brothers Benjamin and David Spindler, the ninth generation of one of Germany's most illustrious circus dynasties, infuse the show with authentic details from their home country. The excitement begins the moment guests enter the bier hall, serving up German delights such as pretzels, sausages, potato pancakes and a selection of the finest Bavarian beers. A maypole adorned with colorful ribbons greets guests as they enter the Big Top tent, setting the stage for the opening number with the performers in traditional Bavarian costumes. Performers on silks, the trapeze and straps fly through the air. Jugglers, trampoliners and acrobatic balancers showcase their athletic prowess in the ring, while presentations of spirited goats and lovable dachshunds bring happy smiles to all. Clowns will have the audiences roaring with laughter, performing throughout the show, often inviting members of the audience on stage. Visit bavariancircus.com for more information and the show schedule.

The Midlands Plant and Flower Festival will return to the South Carolina State Farmers Market, 3483 Charleston Highway, West Columbia, on Saturday-Sunday, April 13-14. Hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Check out the area's largest selection of spring plants and decorations. Free admission and parking. For more information, contact Sonia Brazell at (803) 737-4614 or sbrazell@scda.sc.gov.

The S.C. Historic Aviation Foundation Open House remembering the 82nd anniversary of the Doolittle Raid will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Hangar Y-1, Hamilton Owens Airport, 1400 Jim Hamilton Boulevard, Columbia. The event will include displays, movies and local historian Bruce Cotner speaking on the raid at 11 a.m.

Designed to showcase the Midlands' growing culinary scene, the food-filled Columbia Food and Wine Festival includes 26 events presented by 150 culinary partners. The event will be held Wednesday-Friday, April 24-26. For locations and tickets, visit columbiafoodandwinefestival.com.

The Lower Richland Sweet Potato Festival is designed to bring family and friends together through live bands, arts and crafts, games, carnival rides, praise dances, a parade and more. The event will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, at 6940 Lower Richland Blvd., Hopkins.

The fifth-annual International Festival will celebrate the diversity of Irmo on Sunday, April 28, from noon to 5 p.m. at 7507 Eastview Drive. Admission is free. For more details, visit irmointernationalfestival.com/home.

The 2024 Rosewood Crawfish Festival will feature food, music, arts and crafts, a kids' zone and a Crawdaddy Dash 5K. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at S.C. State Fairgrounds, 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia. For more information and tickets, visit rosewoodcrawfishfest.com.

Black Expo Columbia is meant to promote economic development for minority-owned businesses by showcasing their products and services. The event will be held on Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the S.C. State Fairgrounds, 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6-12 and can be purchased at eventpasshero.com/event/blackexpocola.

The 2nd-Annual Black Eats Week 803 will be held June 17-23, as part of the Juneteenth celebration week. The event, featuring special menus and promotions at participating businesses, community events and activities, recognizes the rich culinary heritage of Black-owned restaurants, food trucks, bakeries, creameries and more in the Midlands area. Registration is now open for businesses to participate. Details of the week will be offered on the free Soda City Certified app and the Black Eats Week 803 website. Follow on Facebook/Instagram @BlackEatsWeek803 for the latest updates. Interested businesses and sponsors are encouraged to visit www.blackeatsweek803.com or call (803) 922-5310 for more information and to sign up.


Find all you need for your spring and summer garden and get advice from Master Gardeners at the Pee Dee Spring Plant & Flower Festival on April 18-21. You'll find plants, garden essentials, Certified South Carolina produce, springtime décor and more. Food vendors will also be available. The event will be held 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pee Dee State Farmers Market. Admission and parking are free. Wagons are available for rent in limited quantities. The Pee Dee State Farmers Market is at 2513 W. Lucas St. in Florence. For more information, contact Market Manager Bob Sager at bsager@scda.sc.gov or (843) 665-5154 or visit agriculture.sc.gov/state-farmers-markets or find the market on Facebook at @PeeDeeFarmersMarket.

Get ready to indulge at Florence Food Truck Festival from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in the parking lot of Florence Center, 3300 W. Radio Drive, Florence. Enjoy tasty foods, craft brews, domestic beers, live entertainment and more. Visit www.florencecenter.com/events/2024/florence-food-truck-festival.

ArtFields, Lake City's epic nine-day Southern art festival, returns Friday-Saturday, April 26-May 4, with live concerts, celebrated chefs, artist workshops, a farmers market, crafts, dancing and more. The South's most engaging art competition and festival will feature artists from 12 Southeastern states with 400-plus works, all competing for $140,000 in cash prizes. General admission is free, and special event tickets are sold separately. For more information, visit artfieldssc.org.

Take a stroll through downtown Hartsville and support local art and shops while enjoying a sip of your favorite wine during the Spring Art and Wine Stroll. Tickets can be purchased by visiting hartsvillemuseum.org. The event will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 26.

Refresh your driving skills and knowledge with the award-winning AARP Smart driver classroom course to update your awareness of new road design, traffic laws and how to adjust your driving to compensate for physical changes. It may also qualify you for a multi-year discount on your car insurance. Call Linda at (863) 640-3001 to register for the April 27 course at the Pisgah Methodist Church, 621 N. Ebenezer Road, Florence. The course will be held from 9 a.m.1 p.m. The cost is $20 for AARP members and $25 for non-members. This course is followed by free individual CarFit assessments 1:30 to 3 p.m. to help reduce your risk of injury during a crash by making proper adjustments to ensure your car "fits" you. Open to the public. Call Margaret at (830) 308-9241 to register.

The annual Florence Spring Golf Classic, sponsored by Raines Co., will begin at 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 2, at Traces Golf Club, 4322 Southborough Road, Florence. Tee-off will begin at noon, and lunch will be catered by Pee Dee Catering. All participating golfers will be registered to partake in a $25,000 cash shootout. Four players will be randomly chosen prior to tee-off. For details, visit flochamber.com/event/2024-spring-golf-classic.

The 13th-annual Grateful Dog Festival returns to raise money for Darlington, Florence and Marlboro counties' humane societies. There will be a kids' zone, silent auction, food and beverage trucks, music and more. The family friendly event also welcomes dogs. The event will be held Friday-Sunday, May 17-19, at Sugar Magnolia Ranch, 889 Tara Dive, Timmonsville, beginning at 3 p.m.


Orangeburg's annual Festival of Roses returns marking the arrival of spring. The event will take place Saturday-Sunday, May 4-5, at Edisto Memorial Gardens, 200 Riverside Drive, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. This free event features vendors from across the Southeast, food trucks, and family friendly events of all kinds - from musical performances to bingo. For additional information, visit https://tinyurl.com/2vrkwjb9.