28th annual Azalea Festival coming up this weekend

PICKENS — The sights and sounds of spring are in the air, and the 28th annual Pickens Azalea Festival is scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, April 20-21.
The annual classic car cruise-in on Main Street will kick things off Friday night at 7 p.m. Classic cars, jeeps and other vehicles restored to their original beauty will fill downtown Pickens, offering visitors a chance to revisit their past while introducing their children and grandchildren to the glory days of automobiles.
Bring the entire family, as the kids can enjoy amusement rides in Legacy Square.
Musical entertainer Jason D. Williams, who brings a mad-man’s wild energy and a sparking passion to the stage, will headline Friday night’s entertainment. His signature brand of wild and rowdy boogie woogie and rock and roll, mixed with raw energy and boundless talent, is a surefire recipe for pleasing the audience. He sound-skips across multiple genres, incorporating everything from classical to country, blues, jazz and rockabilly. But where he really shines is in his live performance, with raw energy fueling the tunes as he stomps and bangs and dances behind the keys, and sometimes on the keys. There will be no doubt why fans and critics alike agree that the dynamic piano player from Memphis is a must see, with the same musical genius as Mozart and the versatility and on-the-edge attitude to bring you back to the roots of rock and roll.
Saturday morning, the festival gets under way with the sixth annual 5K walk/run. This event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and leave from the parking lot of Pickens High School on Highway 178. Participants will travel a designated route planned by organizers. The event is sponsored by the Pickens Women’s Association.
Opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. in front of the Pickens County Courthouse will get things kicked off for downtown. More than 100 area artists and crafters will line Main Street, offering their skills and talents to the public for sale and viewing.
Local civic non-profit organizations and area businesses will be offering various types of food at the festival, including hot dogs, apple fritters, barbecue, hamburgers, roasted corn, funnel cakes, southern BLTs, and baked goods of all kinds, just to name a few.
Helicopter rides will be available at Bruce Field Stadium Saturday, allowing interested patrons a chance to view historic Pickens from the air. Carriage rides will also be available during the festival in front of First Baptist Church on Main Street, both weather permitting.
Throughout Saturday, visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy music on two stages, offering various forms of entertainment, ranging from local clogging groups and choirs to magic acts.
New to the Azalea Festival this year will be a shuttle service to see Historic Hagood Mill. The mill, located just off Highway 178 north of Pickens, was built in 1826. One of the oldest known gristmills in South Carolina, it still produces grain products today and is the only mill in South Carolina that uses the original wheel components. The mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The shuttle will operate Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. during the festival. Admission to the mill and shuttle are free.
Make plans to enjoy a family fun weekend in Pickens at the 28th annual Azalea Festival. The Azalea Festival is sponsored by the Pickens Chamber of Commerce and Azalea Festival Committee.
For festival information, applications, entertainment, or to become a volunteer with the Azalea Festival, visit the event’s website at