PICKENS — What began 33 years ago as a small time local festival has since bloomed into a full scale event and the Pickens Azalea Festival has become the talk of the town.
Vendors for the event were booked to capacity as thousands of residents from the Upstate as well as neighboring states spent a gorgeous Saturday afternoon strolling up and down Main Street in historic downtown Pickens.
“We came down from Canton, North Carolina,” said Merle Abbot and his wife Louise. “My wife read about it online and she likes to see all the crafts.”
Louise admitted the “last thing she needed” was another wind chime or bird feeder but that traveling around to different area festivals and farmer’s markets had become a hobby for the couple since they had both retired from teaching several years ago.
“It gets to a point where you don’t want to just sit around your house, you know?” said Louise. “I love going to all these little events like this. Although, I thought this one had cars … Oh, that was last night? Well, I messed that one up.”
Down the street near the carnival rides, kids tried their luck at hanging onto to a mechanical bull for a full eight seconds or tested their aim with an air rifle for prizes.
“Three shots for five dollars!” the carny barker shouted. “You two! You seem like you’ve got what it takes!”
Three shots later, they left with a plastic inflatable basketball.
Among the rides were the traditional Ferris Wheel and carousel, but also fast spinning inertia rides and upside-down swinging pendulums designed to make even the most fearless rider a little queasy.
This reporter passed on the “Gravitron” but did try her hand at the mechanical bull — an utter (no pun intended) failure.
In the end, the Pickens Azalea Festival lived up to its reputation as “the best little fest” in the Upstate.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.