What do you get when you gather over 100 different BBQ teams cooking for top honors with 20 blues musicians, arts exhibits and a ton of family fun? Sounds like the making of a summer festival; and the perfect excuse for a South Carolina Roadtrip.
It’s time for The 18th Annual Festival of Discovery featuring BBQ and Blues. The fun takes place this weekend July 11-13 in Greenwood SC.
Nothing like celebrating the taste of local across the Carolinas. And if you can make the experience a 3-day weekend experience, then all the better!
Last month, I shared several reasons you’ll want to put Greenwood and the surrounding areas on your must visit list this summer. You might recall in that post I talked about all the gorgeous topiary displays up on Main Street as a part of the June Festival of Flowers.
ICYMI (in case you missed it) then, I’m delighted to tell you that these 40+ incredible topiary are still on display through July 15, 2019. Featured here is an oversized pig topiary named Barbie-Q – its seemed an appropriate choice here, as at this festival, BBQ the name of the game.
For this South Carolina Roadtrip, BBQ is the name of the game
There is lots to discover about all the places and people in the Old 96 District of South Carolina, a designated tourism area which includes five historic South Carolina counties. One of the things, is that people come from far and wide for this annual celebration with a focus of BBQ and Blues.
Get the Delicious Details on Charlotte Today
Get your roadtrip started with this video of version of all the info I’ve detailed here. It was fun to appear in a televised segment on Charlotte Today the morning of Wed July 10 for the video version of this post. My travel segment featuring the Festival of Discovery and I loved sharing all the info here with my friends Colleen Odegaard and Larry Sprinkle. There is so much to see and do while you are in and around Greenwood SC.
What You’ll Discover on this South Carolina Roadtrip
You certainly won’t have any trouble finding this festival and that’s for sure. Main Street in Greenwood will be totally blocked off for the three day line up of events so put on your walking shoes and get set to enjoy.
Festival goers will enjoy bbq from nearly 100 different teams who have come to compete for top honors. While everyone is there to have fun, The SC Festival of Discovery is an Official South Carolina State Barbeque Championship Cook Off. And, its a contest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned. Prize money is big and bragging rites are even bigger.
The 2018 Grand Champion’s last year were from North Carolina! Cheers to Old Colony Smokehouse from Edenton NC. They’ll be there this year to defend the title! Its all shaping up to be an exciting and flavorful weekend.
What’s the best part of this South Carolina roadtrip destination and this 3-day festival – named one of the 2019 winners of the “Top Twenty Events” by the Southeast Tourism Society ? Its that admission is free – no gate fees! You only pay for what you eat and drink.
Between bites, there is music. Blue to be exact. A line up of twenty different musicians and bands from across the country, playing day and night for you to enjoy. Check out the outdoor main stage schedule ; and all the ancillary performance stages (collectively known as the Blues Cruise) schedule here.
Festival Fun for the Kids of all Ages
In addition to the official certified judges, there is also a People’s Choice award, a watermelon eating contest, a hot dog eating competition, and a fun Kids Que competition.
Each kids team is given a pound of ground beef, a pound of bacon and a grill, and then left to their own to create a dish.
The hot dog eating contest (for adults) this year is sponsored by Besto of Greenwood. This family restaurant has been open in Greenwood since early May, but they are not newbies to the restaurant biz. Their Anderson, SC location has been open since 1955. Besto has hot dog night every Tuesday. When you place your order, your dogs will look much like the ones in the photo above.
But, for the contestants in the hot dog eating contest this is what “an order” looks like – last years winner ate 25! I can’t even imagine! All just part of the fun!
Learn more by following the Festival of Discovery Facebook page.
More to Discover on your South Carolina Roadtrip
Even though we’d like to think it so, man and woman can’t just live on BBQ. So, go back to my Greenwood, SC post last month for more places to eat and my where-to-stay suggestions. Then, as a part of your roadtrip, take time to explore and discover a bit of the area surrounding Greenwood.
History is rich in these parts; so let this South Carolina roadtrip offer you lots more to see, learn and enjoy.
First stop: The Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site in Greenwood. This museum and memorial was built in Mays’ honor and is a must see as you plan your South Carolina roadtrip.
Benjamin Mays was the son of parents who had been born into slavery. One of his first memories as a young child was a lynching. I can only imagine the profound affects that could have and did have.
The Influence of Benjamin E. Mays
The experience could have gone many ways. But, this young man grew up to be one of the nation’s most influential Civil Rights leaders. He was the first in his family to get a high school and college education. Mays was a guiding force in the lives of many who made big differences including that of Martin Luther King.
An amazing figure in the history of our country, Benjamin Mays always encouraged his students and friends to reach for their full potential. There is still have much we can all learn from his books and teachings.
One of my favorite quotes from Mays, “Every man and woman is born into this world to do something unique and something distinctive. If he or she does not do it, it will never be done.”
An author and speaker, Mays was also a President of Moorehouse College; and a friend, mentor and advisor to several United States Presidents.
This South Carolina Roadtrip includes an Abbeville Adventure
Abbeville SC is a 20-30 minute drive from Greenwood. Its another small town with a lot of history and some fun places to shop.
The Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville dates back to the 1800s. The coolest thing about this cathedral, is what you can’t see so well from the outside.
Art historians and enthusiasts will be interested to know that the church stained glass windows comprise one of the largest collections of 19th century American-made stained glass. A piece of history worth preserving, as is the historic Gothic structure of the cathedral and the 125 ft steeple. To that end there is a huge preservation effort underway.
More historic walls in Abbeville surround Opera House. If these walls could talk they would have stories to tell of vaudevillian performers such as Fanny Brice and Jimmy Durante. Of pre-broadway roadshows from New York and of thousands of early movies. Today the Abbeville Opera House is used for community and regional theatre. The building is on the Historic Registry.
Shopping in Abbeville is plentiful from antiques to gourmet foods. From garden and home accoutrements to handcrafted soaps and bath products.
Urban 2 Country ( photo above) is a multi-use store featuring gourmet foods, antiques and more and sits at the corner next to the Opera House.
Then on the other side of the square, look for a great little antique co-op called Southern Succotash. Its the kind of shop you’ll just love to dig through for the perfect little find.
Two other of my favorite places include Breezy Quarters where the owner makes fabulous hand crafted soaps (like these with local loofa), lotions, bath products and a fabulous new line of no-melt lip gloss. If you can’t get to Abbeville right away, you can also order from Breezy Quarters online.
Divine Your Space is a not-to-be missed garden shop, where they give all sorts of classes.
The place is packed with all sorts of stuff, so shop inside and out to buy just about any kind of garden pottery, home decorations or votive candle holders or planters your heart desires.
On to Edgefield, South Carolina
Finally, don’t miss some time in the town of Edgefield SC where the wild turkeys in the area are honored with statues all over town. And, if you have an interest in learning more, there is even a wild turkey museum!
Edgefield is also home to two great ways to Drink Local: Carolina Moon Distillery and Hickory Hill Milk.
Cream Top Milk from South Carolina Cows
While we were in Edgefield, it was fun to visit the farm and meet this little gal and all of her friends. For info on Farm Tours check out the farm’s website.
You can purchase milk at the farm from the cooler at the dairy -its all on the honor system.
In Charlotte, Hickory Hill whole milk, buttermilk and chocolate milk are available in Whole Foods and Earthfare.
Carolina Moon Distillery
If the words “drinking local” take on a stronger connotation to you, them you’ll want to check out the spirits at Carolina Moon Distillery.
At Carolina Moon Distillery, most of the spirits are made from local corn. There is aged bourbon and whisky and Carolina moonshine as well. The distillery gives tours and tastings and you can buy bottles to take home, too. Allow enough time to peruse through the distillery gift shop as well – you’ll be sure to find something fun to take home.
Many thanks to Director Barbara Ware and her team at Old 96 Tourismfor all of their warm Southern Hospitality as they showed me around Greenwood SC and the five surrounding county area.
Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens and McCormick counties make up this corner of the Palmetto state, and everywhere you turn the area is packed with history.
The town of Ninety Six was the site of the first Southern land battle of the Revolutionary War. The Burt-Stark Mansion in Abbeville contains original furnishings in the room where Confederate President Jefferson Davis met with his generals and decided to end the Civil War. And in Greenwood itself, as I mention in the post, you’ll find The Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site.
Thanks to to the Festival of Discovery for photos from last years BBQ competition, music and other activities. Cant wait to see more at this years festival. Make plans and have fun on your South Carolina Roadtrip … Be sure to #TellThemHeidiSentYou