Uptown Greenwood will soon be filled with the delicious aroma of barbecue and the sound of live blues music for three days.
Thursday through Saturday, make plans to enjoy one of the hottest and most anticipated events in the Southeast — the 19th annual South Carolina Festival of Discovery.
The festival includes a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned barbecue contest, a black kettle hash contest, hot dog eating contest, a Kid’s Que cooking contest, the Blues Cruise, a local jam stage, arts and crafts, and a KidZone.
Start getting your fill of barbecue Thursday at lunchtime and continue through Saturday night.
“We have 92 competition teams coming, from across the Southeast and from as far away as Texas,” said Greenwood City Manager Julie Wilkie. “A number of our teams are returning teams and there are quite a few female pit masters, too. We have 10 kid teams signed up for Kids Que from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday night and we have room for 24.”
Wilkie said she gets positive feedback about Festival of Discovery from competitors, judges and visitors alike.
“People recognize we are all hands on deck for this,” Wilkie said, noting the City of Greenwood staff, Commissioners of Public Works and other partners work together to make it happen. “It shows in the way the festival has grown, in attendance and participation. A lot of competition teams come in, and it fills up, fast.”
This is the second year for Festival of Discovery’s Kids Que. Deep South Smokers of Georgia is providing charcoal and grills for the youth teams.
“A group is doing a documentary about the history of competition barbecue and they are going to come to our event,” Wilkie said. “We’re on the Great American Cookout Tour again this year and Barbecue TV is coming. Competition teams rave about our event.”
There’s no gate fee to attend and there’s free live music all weekend.
One of the festival’s sponsors, Carolina Pride, has a competition team this year.
“They have entered a team and they are vending,” Wilkie said.
Lara Hudson, Uptown Greenwood manager said a number of local restaurants are vending including Fat Daddy’s, Carolina Barbecue Shack, Palmetto Peanuts, Southern Soul on Main and more. Some are competing also.
A number of food vendors will be located near the Festival’s Main Stage and the Uptown Greenwood Parking Lot. Others will be near Uptown Market.
“Crowds were bigger last year,” Hudson said. “We’re going to have people helping with parking this year.”
Here are a few things to know:
The City of Greenwood will implement a three-day closure of Main Street/U.S. 25 in conjunction with the SC Festival of Discovery. Main Street will be blocked at Court Avenue and Seaboard Avenue, beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday. The road will reopen Sunday by noon. Also, the lower portion of Maxwell Avenue, from E.S. Moons to Greenwood Glass will be closed during the festival, to aid pedestrian foot traffic flow and safety.
Hot Dog Eating Contest
Competitive eating takes center stage on the Main Stage Saturday from noon to 1 p.m., with the Festival’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, sponsored by Besto.
You’re the judge during People’s Choice
Vote for your barbecue favorites during the Festival’s People’s Choice voting on Saturday. Cost is $1 per sample ticket. You get one voting ticket with the purchase of five sample tickets.
People’s Choice tickets will be available for purchase at the Pepsi Trailer (at the corner of Oak Avenue and Main Street) starting at 10:30 am Saturday and will be sold until about 3:30. Sample tickets are non-refundable. Sample sizes and selection vary and are determined by participating teams. Vote for your favorite sample by placing your voting ticket in the corresponding jar.
Winners will be announced at 5 p.m. Saturday on the Main Stage.
The Blues CruiseCoupled with barbecue galore will be 14 different locations for live music, by 22 blues artists, for a combined total of 45 shows, during the Festival of Discovery’s 19th annual Blues Cruise, organized by artistic and music director Gary Erwin. Music starts on the Festival’s Main Stage from 6 to 7 p.m. with Suzie Vinnick, followed by The Good, The Bad and The Blues from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Rarely will you find another festival with the vision to stage such an eclectic mix of blues luminaries,” Erwin said. “And, this is free. So, come on out, one and all, and bask in the glory of this great American art form — the blues. All right here in your sweet little town.”
Local Jam Stage, with music other than blues
Harley Funeral Home and Crematory is once again sponsoring a stage at Uptown Market, 220 Maxwell Ave., with live. local music Friday and Saturday.
The local jam stage kicks off from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday with The Jake Bartley Band and continues at 1 p.m. Saturday with Ashby and Friends.
Uptown Market is also the place for festival arts and crafts
Check out vendors with hand-crafted jewelry, soaps and more at Uptown Market during Festival of Discovery, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.
Beer and wine
Consumption/purchase is only permitted by those at least 21 years of age and in defined areas during designated times during the festival. New for this year:
To consume and possess beer/wine outside, you must purchase a $5 wristband, with a locking clasp. Wristbands will be sold for $5 each day, Thursday through Saturday, at the Wristband Tents.
Wristband Tents will be located next to the information tent on Oak Avenue, at the corner of Main Street and Maxwell Avenue and at the Uptown Market, located on the corner of Maxwell Avenue and Alliance Avenue.