PICKENS — The annual Blue Ridge Fest kicks off its twenty-first year on May 4. Since its inception in 1998, Blue Ridge Fest has grown and developed its own distinct identity.
“Giving back to those who most need help and its concept of employee volunteers are what make Blue Ridge Fest unique among sister festivals,” said Blue Ridge Electric President and CEO Jim Lovinggood. “Through the volunteer efforts of our employees and the generosity of our sponsors, this festival has donated a total of over $2.5 million over the last nineteen years to local human-help agencies in the four-county area served by the cooperative”
Blue Ridge Fest was created by Blue Ridge Electric to combine the cooperative’s charitable community efforts into one large event.
Each spring, Blue Ridge employee volunteers donate their time and energy to play host to the thousands who attend the event. These volunteers, set up, sell concessions, assist with traffic control and parking, clean up and attend to all the other myriad details that make Blue Ridge Fest a success.
Their efforts result in significant cost-savings and allow the cooperative to maximize its festival profits, which are contributed to charities in Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens counties.
According to the co-op, each year an employee committee reviews more than 100 applications and chooses 12 charities to receive funding from this annual event.
To date, more than $2.5 million dollars has been donated to local charities that in turn have helped thousands of individuals and families that need help with the basic necessities of life.
This year’s selected charities include A Call to Action, Anderson Free Clinic, Center for Developmental Services, Collins Children’s Home, The Dream Center of Pickens County, Fair Play Camp School, Feed a Hungry Child, Hospice of the Upstate, The Lachlan McIntosh Tannery Foundation, Miracle Hill Children’s Home, North Greenville Crisis Ministry and Samaritan Health Clinic of Pickens County.
Employees still have the option to participate in other charitable pursuits during the year. The choice is theirs, however and they are not asked to volunteer on behalf of the co-op, officials said.
The festival is held each spring on the co-op’s grounds in Pickens.
The event features a Beach Night show and dance, along with the Upstate’s largest classic car cruise-in. For those who enjoy moving their feet, there is a dance floor strewn with cornmeal for shaggers and other dancers in front of the stage. There is also ample seating for those who simply enjoy listening to the bands or watching the action on the dance floor.
Bragging rights for the Upstate’s largest cruise-in belong to Blue Ridge Fest. Everything from Model A Fords to Studebakers to hot-rods participate.
“The Fest has established a reputation among South Carolina and neighboring states as a top-notch quality event,” said Cruise-In coordinators. “Because of this reputation, the number of cars participating continues to grow, and spectators can count on seeing a variety of classic automobiles in every color and style.”
“We are thrilled with the growth of Blue Ridge Fest over the past twenty years,” said Lovinggood. “There is no doubt that without the generous support of our sponsors and the hard work of the employees, Blue Ridge Fest would still be just a dream. Together they have truly turned this dream into a reality, as have the thousands who attend Blue Ridge Fest each year and contribute to our profits.”
After all, “People helping people and having a good time in the process is what Blue Ridge Fest is all about,” he concluded.