South Carolina is blooming and buzzing this spring. Whether you prefer the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Little River Waterfront, this month is sure to provide an exciting experience for you in South Carolina.
The Great Anderson County Fair – May 4-14
Beyond carnival rides and fair food, a number of the more popular events will be back at the Anderson County Fair this year including Lady Houdini, the Human Cannonball, an exotic petting zoo featuring camel and pony rides and pig racing. This year’s fair will also feature brand new acts including a Fireman High Diving show, a high wire pirate thrill show and bluegrass performers the Little Roy and Lizzy show. Family entertainment options available include farm-themed Family Feud, a comedy magic show and a Survival Game Show with fun challenges. Anderson’s fair also offers a parakeet adventure in an aviary that holds over 400 of the birds as well as an area called Exhibit Lane, where you can find many local vendors. This affordable, family-friendly event offers daily promotions and free parking for attendees.
Allendale County’s Cooter Fest – May 5-6
Allendale County’s Cooter Fest is a 34-year tradition. Every year, a crowd gathers to watch turtles, commonly known as "cooters," race and compete for prize money as well as titles, such as “World’s Fastest Cooter” and “Best Dressed Cooter.” What started as a small turtle race has become an annual, weekend festival for Allendale County. Cooter Fest begins Friday night with local booths, a street dance party and carnival rides. Saturday begins with the Cooter Crawl 5K Run/Walk, a parade, the Carolina Cooter Race and CWA Pro Wrestling. There will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy food and music throughout, and the event ends with fireworks in the evening. Come by Cooter Fest for a unique weekend experience for competitors and spectators alike.
SC Strawberry Festival – May 5-6
The beginning of May means the return of the annual SC Strawberry Festival in Fort Mill. Themed events begin in the week leading up to the festival, and the event takes place in downtown's Walter Elisha Park, where people can listen to live music, purchase tickets for carnival rides, enjoy entertainment and local vendors and immerse themselves in all things strawberry. The festival begins Friday night, and Saturday offers a list of exciting events including pig races, hot wing, ice cream and strawberry cupcake eating contests, wrestling, a car show and a butterfly exhibit. The event’s Strawberry Jam Stage is packed with a great lineup, too.
Walterboro Pro Rodeo – May 5-6
Some of the country’s top cowboys and cowgirls will come together in Walterboro for the 27th anniversary of the Walterboro Pro Rodeo. Contestants compete in various events in hopes to qualify for the International Professional Rodeo Association Finals in Oklahoma City, OK. Spectators visiting the family-friendly event can enjoy food and entertainment while they watch competitors. The weekend events include bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf-roping, bull riding and, for the first time, cowgirl barrel racing. Attending the Walterboro Pro Rodeo is a great opportunity to experience a rodeo without having to go out west to see the best of the best.
SC Poultry Festival – May 11-13
The 31st SC Poultry Festival in Batesburg-Leesville this spring offers many diverse ways to have a good time. Friday night features a cornhole tournament and chicken cooking contest, while Saturday is a full day of fun with a 5K, parade, tractor and car shows, racing pigs and even the chance to see Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s show car and check out a NASCAR simulator. Be sure to stay until the end on Saturday to enjoy the closing fireworks show.
Artisphere – May 12-14
This May marks the 13th year of Artisphere, one of Greenville’s most exciting events. Artisphere offers many ways to enjoy art, music and food over three days. Don't miss the “Art in Action” stage, where the public can watch art be created using various methods, with some even choreographed to music. Artists also hold labs and do demonstrations, offering do-it-yourself opportunities. A Kidsphere area will have creative art activities for children, and the weekend includes plenty of music, theater and dance performances. Visiting art exhibitions, watching interactive culinary art demonstrations and sampling beers and wines with experts are just a few more ways to immerse yourself in the experience Artisphere offers. If you find that you need a break, stop by the Culinary Arts Café to try local restaurant cuisine, relax and listen to live music. Friday and Saturday also features Artisphere After Hours Concerts in the evening. This weekend event is a great way to explore Greenville and the artistic culture that can be found there.
Birdfest – May 19-20
Every year in rural South Carolina, people gather together to enjoy great music, good company and a weekend-long party known as Birdfest. The event takes place on Pineland Farm in Panola and has been happening every spring for 15 years, undergoing exponential growth since it first began. Birdfest is partnered with the Palmetto Project, and proceeds go to improving children’s literacy in South Carolina. Attendees are welcome to camp by tent or register for one of the RV sites, which are limited. Vendors will be available on site throughout offering various refreshments. Join in the community of people that come together for the unique experience Birdfest provides, and enjoy a weekend outdoors filled with music and more. Find more information at their website and Facebook page.
Little River Blue Crab Festival - May 20-21
More than 50,000 people are expected at the 36th Annual Little River Blue Crab Festival. This two-day event is filled with live performances, traditional seafood specialties and local arts and crafts. Travel by boat to the festival or take in the scenic views when you arrive on the Historic Little River Waterfront. Enjoy countless vendors and booths or dine at restaurants right on the waterfront. Children 12 and younger get in free, and there's a children’s area at the event. The festival provides the opportunity to see everything the area has to offer, and money raised from the weekend will go to support continuous community improvement.
Sumter Iris Festival – May 26-28
Sumter's Iris Festival, South Carolina’s oldest continuous event, gathers quite the crowd for concerts and contests to celebrate the city's beautiful irises. The event has everything from arts and crafts to car shows, and there are numerous children’s activities including rides, video games, laser tag and blow-ups. Columbia artist Ernest Lee will be painting on-site for the three-day event, and attendees can get health screenings courtesy of Palmetto Health. There will be welding on site, with metal art sculptures being created for all to see. Don't miss the flower show at the Alice Boyle Garden Center.
Spoleto Festival USA – May 26-June 11
For 17 days and nights each spring, Charleston comes alive with world-class performing arts events throughout the city. Spoleto Festival USA is an international performing arts festival that includes opera, theater, dance and incredible music. Attendees can see renowned artists as well as emerging performers take the stage and showcase their talents. With more than 30 performances over the course of the festival, the hardest part is narrowing down which events to attend. Choose from string band performances, ballet, orchestra ensembles, jazz or emotion-evoking operas, and enjoy a world temporarily transformed by the talented artists before you. There will be special events taking place for ticket holders and other opportunities to learn more about festival productions and have conversations with this year’s artists.
Bowman Bound – May 27
Check out South Carolina's newest music festival and outdoor concert venue at the inaugural Bowman Bound, a daylong festival at Yonder Field in Bowman. The lineup includes South Carolina's Edwin McCain and other festival headliners like Dr. John, Philip Phillips and Uncle Kracker. General admission tickets are available in various packages, or get tickets at the campground and stay all night.
Rally in the Valley – May 27
The Palmetto State's weather is perfect for outdoor activity in May, and the Rally in the Valley is a great chance to get outside before the summer heats up. This event consists of 30 or 60-mile bike rides through scenic trails on the Blue Ridge Mountains, giving cyclists the chance to take in the incredible landscape during a refreshing morning ride. Beginning around 11:30 a.m., Lake Jemiki will be the site of music, food and craft beer, and cyclists can join in the fun after the race. Plates of local barbecue and home-cooked sides will be available, and Oskar Blues Brewery will be serving brews. Proceeds from the day will support conservation activities in the area. Register for the 6th annual Rally in the Valley bike ride, or bring your lawn chair and head to Lake Jemiki for a beautiful South Carolina Saturday spent outside.
Gallabrae – May 27-28
Dust off your kilt and head to Greenville for Gallabrae, an event made up of all things Scottish, at Furman University. The weekend kicks off with a parade down North Main Street in downtown Greenville on Friday night, and Saturday features a tribute to military forces both in the U.S. and Scotland, including a flyover. Gallabrae focuses on the celebration of Scottish heritage and traditions, and clans from all over the country take part in the event. There will be Scottish historic demonstrations, some of which are interactive, and the event offers an area called Wee Scotland with art and craft activities, face painting, character meet and greets and performances for children attending. If you’re looking for something active, try your hand or watch others compete at the Greenville Scottish games, which includes heavy athletic competitions. Saturday also offers border collie demonstrations and British car shows, pipe bands, a Celtic Jam and happy hour. Celtic rock bands play throughout the weekend, and Thomas Creek Brewery will be serving a Gallabrae Scottish Ale at the happy hour event. Gallabrae is a great way to learn about and celebrate the Scottish culture, and the event offers a variety of ways to do so without having to leave the state.