EDITORIAL: Home-grown events are best
Spring and fall are gatherings times in Laurens County. Sure, we have Christmas in the winter, and we rev up for football in the summer. But fall gets everyone in a gathering mood, shaking off the summer heat, and spring is the time of rebirth.
For the standpoint of our Laurens County home-grown events, we have some of the best anywhere. These take endless hours of planning, volunteers to assist and - perhaps too often - the work of just a handful of core people to actually accomplish. Look at just a few:
Flight of the Dove is technically a summer event, but the August mornings when 500 bicyclists go off from the circular drive of Bailey Memorial Stadium are either foggy or glorious. FOTD just got a $5,000 appropriation from the City of Clinton’s accommodation tax for publicity. We had better look out - if this fund-raiser for Hospice of Laurens County gets more well-known within the cycling community, our roads might not be able to hold it.
Garden Song -- This September event, just celebrating its fifteenth year, was a musical tribute to Harriet Patterson Ramage this year. Harriet was a super-volunteer, embodying everything noble of Laurens County people. Wonderful music and delicious food combine for a completely unique event, raising money for something we probably meed more of, a meditation garden
Run Like a Mann brings running and walking enthusiasts together for a fund-raiser to benefit the Laurens County Cancer Association. It is named for a Clinton man, Tim Mann, and LCCA helps Laurens County folks. The run has been at Presbyterian College, and now has migrated to the Professional Park, behind GHS Laurens County Memorial Hospital. Families, Scout troops, school cross-country teams and bands of friends have supported this fine event.
The Roger Rice Ride raises money to assist law enforcement officers who incur personal or family financial difficulties. This can include illness, a devastating fire or other emergencies. It carries on the name of a fallen deputy in a noble, enthusiastic way - along with a blood drive in Rice’s name and the Sheriff’s Office efforts on behalf of underserved children at Christmas.
If you have never been to a Bub Lollis Ride, come out to uptown Clinton about noon on Oct. 29. Leather-clad motorcyclists will show their hearts as they gather on behalf of the residents of Whitten Center. These people need so much and ask for so little, and the motorcycle runs collect items and cash to assist the Whitten Center residents. Gone are the days when mentally ill people are “institutionalized” and Whitten Center has much more space than use these days. Still, they are ours, and we will always look out for them.
The Nation’s Heritage comes alive during Pioneer Day - this year it was Sept. 9 - in the Gray Court-Owings area. Native Americans, Revolutionary and Civil War re-enactors, and sons and daughters of the nation’s independence struggle come together for this event. The setting is Culbertson Backcountry Settlement, which becomes a living history laboratory.
Not last and certainly not least is Squealin’ on the Square, just past in downtown Laurens. This first weekend in October festival is a showcase for Laurens, and it obviously has a great reputation as it attracts thousands of visitors. From things as standard as music groups to as “home-grown” as a tractor parade, Squealin’ has it all for just about everyone - and has for 17 years.
Many other “one-day wonders” are planned and executed each year in Laurens County, and this list is not meant to take away from any of them. Other events are gaining traction - specifically, Town Rhythms and Rhythm on the Rails in uptown Clinton - and this is a great sign for tourism attractiveness in Laurens County.
It’s all based on volunteers, and that can be a tough way to run a show. To everyone, we say thanks for “pitching in” and we can’t wait for our county’s next party.