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We’re quite festive
By CHRIS TRAINOR
, Special to the Index-Journal
Sunday, July 06, 2014 12:41 AM
We love a festival, don’t we?
It’s one of the things that makes the Lakelands special. We don’t have everything here in our little corner of the world. This isn’t a metropolitan area, in any sense of the word.
But, we do like to party.
In Abbeville, there’s Spring Festival on the first weekend in May. They have the best carnival rides and easily the most picturesque setting, on historic Court Square. Plus, it’s the area festival most likely to be attended by local character/human search engine Robert Fossett, so you can get your funnel cakes and gossip all in one place.
Down in McCormick, there’s the Gold Rush Festival. One of the most underrated of the area festivals. The Gold Rush parade is an undeniable slice of Americana. State Rep. Anne Parks once threw me half a bag of candy during that parade.
Up in Ware Shoals, there’s the annual Catfish Feastival on Memorial Day weekend. If you love eating catfish, the Catfish Feastival is the place to be. This festival also has professional wrestling. Yes, professional wrestling and seemingly unlimited fried catfish all in the same place. If you need more than that, well, I suspect you’re not American.
In recent years, Ninety Six has jumped in the festival arena with the S.C. Festival of Stars. Fireworks and music are the centerpiece of the Ninety Six party. Rain hampered the Festival of Stars this year, but they’ll be back strong in 2015.
Over in Calhoun Falls, the Lake Russell Freedom Blast has emerged. The annual bash ahead of July 4 features music, food and a big fireworks show. I was down there for the Freedom Blast last weekend, and it was a great time. Look, if good ol’ Jimmy Crawford, of the Lake Russell Recreation and Tourism Coalition, is on french fry cooking duty, you know it’s going to be a good time.
Then, of course, there are the festivals here in Greenwood.
There’s the long-running Festival of Flowers, which is not a “festival” in the traditional sense. It’s really a series of very nice events that culminates in a final weekend filled with even more very nice events. It’s also the festival which introduced the topiaries to Uptown Greenwood. The topiaries have been a very unique and special addition, particularly as they are a draw for children and families.
Word has it they are going to have a Richard S. Whiting topiary next year, complete with pungent cigar, wine glass and double entendres.
And then there’s my favorite festival of them all. That’s right: It’s barbecue time.
THE 14TH ANNUAL SOUTH CAROLINA
Festival of Discovery will kick off Thursday night and continue through Saturday in Uptown Greenwood. For all the details on the annual barbecue bash, check out the Festival of Discovery special section in today’s paper.
The Festival of Discovery is, truly, one of the South’s premier barbecue festivals. It also is ground zero for some of the best blues music you are likely to hear, compliments of the Blues Cruise, which will feature artists from across the country performing at venues in Uptown.
There will also be rides for youngsters, and the young at heart. You don’t even have to speak carny.
But, let’s be real here. The actual star of the Festival of Discovery is the food. Oh, my Lord, the food.
Simply put, you will have the opportunity to taste some of the finest barbecue you will ever have in your life. And that’s not hyperbole.
My love for the festival kicked up several notches a few years ago, when I was exposed to one of my guiltiest food pleasures: ABTs (Atomic Buffalo Turds), or as my old friend and city manager Charlie Barrineau calls them “Pig Candy.”
I was a judge for the festival’s Anything Goes competition several years ago, which is when I was introduced to the wonderful world of ABTs. I have considered them a delectable special treat ever since.
There are many variations of the ABT, and I won’t get into the finer recipe details here, but here are the basics: You take a sliced, hollowed out jalapeno, stuff it full with cream cheese and a little grated cheddar cheese and sprinkle on some cayenne pepper. Then you wrap them in bacon and cook them on the smoker. You can also do them in the oven.
Barrineau can smoke the hell out of some ABTs on his Big Green Egg, and my wife makes some good ones, too. Index-Journal publisher Judi Burns also makes some serious ABTs.
I’m willing to bet many of you have attended the wonderful festivals across the Lakelands recently. This weekend you will have a chance to take in perhaps the best of them all.
Just make sure you bring your appetite.
Trainor is a contributing columnist for the Index-Journal. Contact him at ChrisTrainorSC@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisTrainorSC. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.
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