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Festival fun across South Carolina in ’07

All across the Palmetto State there’s plenty of fun to be had in the New Year. From festivals and theme parks to weekend and overnight getaways — South Carolina has much to offer. Check out our list below.

The Salkehatchie Arts Center has opened in Allendale. The center offers the works of artists from five counties — Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton and Hampton counties. The center offers workshops for all ages, as well as the opportunity to buy high-quality works at reasonable prices in a variety of media, including paintings, photography, jewelry, quilts, pottery and other handicrafts.

The South Carolina National Heritage Corridor opened its Region 3 Discovery Center in 2006. Located just outside Blackville, the Discovery Center features a train-inspired museum, which shares the rich history of Aiken, Bamberg, Barnwell and Orangeburg counties through interactive displays, videos depicting the beautiful countryside, and kiosks depicting the region’s history.

The Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site has been reborn, a seven-year, ongoing effort that has re-shaped the pivotal landmark’s ability to share the story of the birthplace of the Carolinas and the plantation system of the American South. The $19 million renovation project features an exhibit hall that opened this summer, interpretive trail system, including a new marsh boardwalk; a reconstructed palisade wall of the size and construction and on the same location as the original; a new, working cannon embrasure guarding access by water; a garden with crops from that day; and the refurbished Animal Forest, a natural-habitat zoo that’s home to species the settlers would have encountered, including pumas and bears. Interpretive programs, including artillery demonstrations, are held regularly.

The fast-growing Charleston Food and Wine Festival now has a sponsor. The 2007 event, set for March 1-4, will officially be named the BB&T Charleston Food and Wine Festival. Showcasing the indigenous flavors of the Lowcountry, this four-day celebration of Charleston’s finest features some of the country’s best chefs, culinary authors and wine professionals.
Charleston Tea Plantation, America’s only tea plantation, reopened for tours after three years of dedicated efforts to preserve and restore the Wadmalaw Island farm. In addition to acres of immaculately kept tea camellias, a highlight is a state-of-the-art processing facility run by the new owner, Bigelow Tea.

From Slavery to Freedom and Beyond is part of the official title of the slave cabin project at Magnolia Plantation. Work began in 2006 to restore four 1850s slave houses and a turn-of-the-century building also once occupied by African-Americans on the property. A unique fact about these buildings: They’re located side by side and were occupied almost continually from the 1850s through the late 20th century by African -American families who worked on the property.

An inaugural event set for April 27-May 6, the Columbia Festival of the Arts will feature theater, dance, music, visual arts and museum exhibits around the city and has been created as a celebration of the arts and culture of the Midlands.

Major shows set for 2007 at the Columbia Museum of Art include “European Works on Paper” (March 1-June 3) featuring Picasso, Chagall, Modigliani and more. An exhibit of American photography — including Ansel Adams’ iconic “Yosemite Valley, Summer” — opens in September.

A 12-foot tall animatronic visitor is one star of “Aliens: Worlds of Possibilities,” a traveling exhibit with more than 20 interactive stations that will be at the South Carolina State Museum through Sept. 3. A NASA-sponsored exhibit on the Hubble space telescope will be featured through June 30. The museum also will participate in a series of presentations on World War I, set for May 18-June 1, and will present “Visions of Victory,” a series of 147 images by such photographers as Annie Leibovitz of subjects such as Arthur Ashe and Babe Ruth.

One of the Grand Strand’s most memorable landmarks is no more. The Pavilion in downtown Myrtle Beach closed in 2006 but its memory lives on in a series of pen-and-ink and watercolor sketches by Lon Calhoun, owner of Moegan’s gallery and studio in Conway. The historic river town has seen a downtown renaissance driven by galleries, shops and cafes, including Moegan’s, which moved in September to the new Rivertown Market Place.

The popular Freedom Weekend Aloft balloon festival has moved back to Greenville County and will be held May 25-28 at Heritage Park in Simpsonville. Balloon rides and competition, live entertainment, children’s activities, a Frisbee dog competition and more are on tap.

Don’t miss the second annual Scottish Games & Highland Festival set for June 10 at Furman University. The fun includes story telling, Highland dancing competition, a children’s Celtic scavenger hunt, sheepherding exhibitions, weaving and sword-making, re-enactors, food and the skirl of bagpipes.

Set for Sept. 14-16 in Falls Park and along the Reedy River, Southern Exposure is a three-day food and wine celebration with celebrity chefs, tasting events and musical performances. The festival also aims to bring together wines of the world and traditional and gourmet Southern food from local restaurants in a festive setting. An outdoor jazz brunch is but one of the highlights

The Greenville area has become a hot spot for bicycling and Labor Day weekend will mark the second of a three-year hitch for the USA Pro Cycling National Championship. A fleet of top pro riders, including Tour de France veterans, will compete for the coveted stars-and-stripes jersey. The 131-mile road race through the Blue Ridge includes several passes through Paris Mountain State Park, a prized mountain-biking destination. Downtown Greenville plans to go all out again for the race weekend with a full schedule of special events.

The Emerald Triangle Arts & Cultural District continues to develop. In 2006, a 3,300-square-foot art gallery with monthly exhibits and a reception hall and gift shop opened in the Federal Building. Spring 2007, meanwhile, should see the opening of a Lower Piedmont digital tourism kiosk in the Federal Building and the completed renovation of the Greenwood Community Theater. An overhaul of the two streets within the Emerald Triangle also is about to begin and will result in a new streetscape, lighting and facade.

Myrtle Beach
Ground was broken in July ’06 for Hard Rock Park, a 140-acre rock n’ roll theme park that will be the first of its kind in the world. More than 40 attractions will be part of the nearly $400 million development, including an amphitheater, restaurants, rides and other celebrations of rock music’s culture, legends and history. The park is scheduled to open in spring 2008.
The Hilton Golf Academy opened its third location, and first on the East Coast, at the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort in April ’06. Personalized instruction and playing packages are featured. The 145-acre resort is anchored by a 385-room Hilton hotel.

Spearheaded by the legendary Cal Ripken Jr., The Ripken Experience park opened its doors in June and features state-of-the-art synthetic fields designed after historic ballparks such as Comiskey and the Polo Grounds. Youth and regulation-size fields, training facilities and more are attracting baseball campers and tournament players from around the country.

Set on more than 2,000 acres of rolling Midlands pine forest near Winnsboro, Carolina Adventure World is set to ramp up in 2007 with about 100 miles of all-terrain and motocross trails, a national championship motocross track, large mud bog, the country’s only permanent Enduro motorcycle course, go-kart trails, nature trails and the first of its kind in the United States: a canopy walk 100 feet up in the trees.

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