SUMMERVILLE — The town is hitting a milestone as the YMCA gears up for the Flowertown Festival’s 50th anniversary.
Initially hosted by the Younger Women’s Christian Group and then acknowledged as the Azalea Festival, the arts and crafts celebration was a fundraiser to aid give small children swimming lessons.
There was a race together Principal Street, a parade and a magnificence pageant, along with arts and crafts distributors, said Judy Cranford, a single of the YWCO volunteers who helped put with each other the initial festival.
Due to the fact then, the yearly spring event has expanded, with a lot more than 300 arts and crafts distributors, as well as around 100 firms and food items distributors. It is really one of the greatest arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast.
It can be also the YMCA’s premier fundraiser. The business works by using the money to supply scholarships to young children and families who may possibly not be able to participate in its programs or be a part of the health and fitness center.
In excess of 200,000 individuals go to the festival more than the course of 3 days, according to YMCA Advertising Director Erika Stubbs. They acquire the facts by conducting surveys in coordination with the University of Charleston.
Cranford claimed she’s not stunned the festival has lasted this extended, adding that she and the other 9 or so volunteers who place together the to start with festival considered it would continue on for years.
“I consider we all understood we were being heading to do this, and we were likely to keep onto it as extended as we could,” she said. “It didn’t arise to me that it wouldn’t go on. I imagine we all felt that way.”
Nicknamed “Flower Town in the Pines,” Summerville shaped as a town in 1847 so residents could shield its trees from extreme woodcutting. The railroad was chopping a lot of down as it experimented with to lengthen the rails and relocate business facilities around the tracks.
The town passed a law that 12 months prohibiting the cutting of particular-sized trees with out permission. The regulation even now stands right now, as do several of the trees downtown the place festivalgoers wander from booths to food vans along Principal Street and by means of Azalea Park.
The city, which had only 6,000 residents when the festival started in the 1970s, has swelled to additional than 50,000 people today. And the festival has grown with it.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary, Stubbs said the festival will convey some issues back again that have been carried out in the earlier, but not lately.
“We’re which include functionality acts from youth in our community,” Stubbs claimed. “Dance clubs, any high school theater or music groups, we’re inviting them all to come be part of our stage. We also employed to have commemorative things these as pins, hats and posters. We’re bringing all of those products back again.”
Diane Frankenberger, who has lived in Summerville considering that 1967, has witnessed the festival’s sluggish however steady development around the years. She reported it’s usually had an outstanding reputation for being both very good and safe.
As a Summerville resident who has developed up with the Flowertown Competition, Stubbs claimed her most loved section of the event is observing the attendees get pleasure from it. She included that people today see the pageant as a safe and sound position to have pleasurable, no issue their age or interests.
“It’s heading to sound really cliché, but it is brilliant to see an event that a newborn or anyone in their 90s can get pleasure from. How uncommon is that — to have a little something for everyone?” Stubbs stated. “I believe that we never see more than enough of that anymore.”
Though the festival normally takes place the initially weekend in April, the YMCA has been organizing because October, when vendor applications open. Volunteers review the apps in January and start off to send out out acceptance and denial letters.
Lakaisha Ferguson, the owner of Baps and Babe Planet Famous Gumbo in Moncks Corner, mentioned this will be her second calendar year as a pageant vendor. She had listened to about it from buddies and social media, introducing that she loves almost everything about the competition.
“The people today are wonderful, the ambiance is beautiful … it is a breath of contemporary air for folks just to be out and about,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson, whose seafood gumbo has African, Caribbean and Lowcountry influences, reported she’s honored to be incorporated in the festival’s 50th anniversary and is completely ready to present free of charge samples to curious attendees.
While there are generally nearby distributors at the party, various from other states — Florida, Tennessee and Ga, to identify a couple of — will travel to attend.
“They will come simply because the crowds are listed here,” Stubbs said. “This is one of the largest festivals they’ll do all 12 months.”
Astro Vinyl Art is one of those people out-of-point out sellers. Hailing from Pottstown, Pa., father and son Dave and Alec Friel have been carving intricate audio-associated patterns on vinyl records because 2016. Though they travel to tunes and artwork festivals, this will be their initial 12 months as a seller at the Flowertown Pageant.
Dave Friel mentioned he and his son glimpse forward to introducing their exclusive artwork to a new geographic space.
“We’re tremendous fired up to be a section of this lengthy-functioning function, in particular on the 50th anniversary,” he said.
Frankenberger, who owns People today, Destinations and Quilts in downtown Summerville, added that most of the spot businesses get pleasure from the 3-working day celebration, as properly, because people today who occur for the pageant usually halt by the retailers.
“Summerville has rather a track record now as a area to occur to for our amazing dining places, all our shops are regionally owned, all people is helpful,” Frankenberger mentioned. “We all encourage a single an additional for the reason that when a single succeeds, we all thrive.”
The competition will operate from March 31-April 2, the exact same weekend as the Cooper Bridge River Operate and the starting of the Credit history A person Charleston Open up tennis event on Daniel Island. Hrs are 9-6 p.m. on March 31 and April 1, and 9-4 p.m. on April 2.