Less Traveled

Page Ivey



Just spitting distance: Celebrating my favorite fruit

Posted 7/18/2013 2:07:00 PM

I remember driving with my family from Florence to the Charlotte, N.C., area to visit relatives when I was a little girl. The trip always took us through the tiny town of Pageland – watermelon capital of the world. I loved watermelon and my name was Page, so it only made sense that I would one day be the queen of Pageland.

Well, my royal aspirations fell short, much to the delight, I am sure, of the nearly 3,000 would-be subjects in my 4-square-mile kingdom.

But the town will see plenty of queens – beauty queens, that is – riding around this weekend for the 2013 Pageland Watermelon Festival.

The festival began in 1951 to promote the area’s primary crop. Then, as now, the watermelon-eating and seed-spitting competitions were main events along with the usual festival fare of a parade, beauty pageant and street dance.

Over the years, events have been added including a rodeo on Friday night, starting at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Field, and a car show on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. on Pearl Street.

This year, there are two free concerts with dancing at a gazebo, one Friday and one Saturday night starting at 8 p.m.

Pageland bonus: How my favorite S.C. town got its name: The town was founded in 1908 and named for Adolphus High Page, who brought the Chesterfield and Lancaster Railroad to this part of Chesterfield County.

If you’re going: If you want to make a weekend of it, Pageland has two motels.
The Guest Lodge (843) 672-6117, 910 W. McGregor St., offers AAA and AARP discounts.

Villager Motel (843) 672-7225, 703 N. Pearl St., offers AARP discounts and is right in the middle of the celebration.