27th Azalea Festival drawing near

PICKENS — In its 27th annual celebration, the 2011 Pickens Azalea Festival will once again be a spring weekend filled with a myriad of arts and crafts, a variety of food choices, and tours through the historical city of Pickens’ Main Street.

The festival will also feature amusement rides, children’s activities, military exhibits and an array of musical entertainment.

This year’s festival will kick off Friday evening, April 15, at 7 p.m. with the annual Classic Car Cruise-In on Main Street, where visitors can view old cars, jeeps and trucks of their past that have been restored to perfection.

On Friday night, the Pickens Azalea Festival Committee will, for the first time, have the Cruise-In dash plaque and t-shirt available for sale while supplies last at the festival committee booth near the main stage. 325 cruisers arriving Friday night will receive the first Pickens Azalea Festival dash plaque and goody bag.

Too Much Sylvia will headline Friday night’s entertainment. The band features three lead vocalists, Rick Lee, Eddy Howie and Steve Long, and rocking drummer Don Leonard.

From Howie’s crystal clear voice and Long’s funky, soul sound to Lee’s scratchy rock & roll, the band has many varieties of vocal styles covered. Their vocal blend and harmonies are a major part of the sound. Combine those with their tight, tasteful musical arrangements and Leonard’s rhythms, and the band will have everyone grooving. The music is appealing to dancers, and it is at a comfortable sound level for everyone.

Saturday morning, April 16, activities begin with the first Pickens County Meals on Wheels “Pedal Pickens County Charity Ride” at 8 a.m. at the corner of Ann Street and West Main. The charity event will feature 10-mile, 25-mile, 40-mile and “Metric Century” courses. Registration is required, and the fee depends on the distance. Proceeds will benefit the Pickens County Meals on Wheels. The registration deadline is Thursday, April 14. Kids sprint races will be held at 10 a.m. at the start/finish line, with free bicycle helmets given to the first 25 registered participants.

The fifth annual Azalea Festival 5K Walk/Run will begin at Pickens High School at 8:30 a.m., sponsored by the Pickens Women’s Association. Registration is required, with a reduced fee for early registration by April 2. T-shirt and goody bags will be given to the first 100 registered participants.

The festival’s opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. on the main stage next to the Pickens County Court House. The streets of Pickens will be filled with the electric activity of area artist displaying their incredible creations, the aroma of local civic and non-profit agencies grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, and other delicious foods, the infectious fun of kids’ activities and much more.

Helicopter rides will be available on Saturday, giving riders an opportunity to view Pickens from the air. Rides will leave from Bruce Field football stadium (weather permitting, fee required). Carriage rides will also be available. And festival patrons can view a military encampment in the park near Main Street, presented by the History Club of the Carolinas.

Amusement rides and entertainment in Legacy Square, along with free musical entertainment all day on the main stage, will entertain visitors of all ages.

Grace United Methodist Church of Pickens and The Pickens Azalea Festival Committee will provide a shuttle service for festival patrons on Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The shuttle will run every 30 minutes from the old Winn-Dixie parking lot on Hampton Ave. to Grace Church parking lot.

For additional festival information or booth applications, visit or contact the Azalea Festival Committee at The Pickens Azalea Festival is sponsored by the Pickens Chamber of Commerce & Pickens Azalea Festival Planning Committee.