30th annual Azalea Fest coming up this weekend




PICKENS — Spring has always been special in Pickens County, with warm, sunny days and cool crisps evenings. And the third weekend in April offers the best way for area residents and visitors to Pickens County to say goodbye to the chills of winter with a two-day event filled with activities to thrill all age groups.

The 30th annual Azalea Festival, slated for April 18-19, is shaping up to be a weekend to remember by everyone planning to attend, Russ Gantt, director of the event, said.

“A lot of work, planning, and organizing has gone into the 2014 Azalea Festival,” Gantt said. “Everyone working on this year’s event wants this to be the best festival to date, as we do every year.”

The festival will kick off Friday with a broadcast on WSPA-TV of “Your Carolina” with Jack and Megan live from the Pickens County Courthouse from 10-11 a.m., followed by “Carolina Now” with Jamarcus Gaston from 11-11:30 p.m., featuring special guest Francine Bryson.

At 6 p.m. Friday, a Classic Car Cruise-In will fill Main Street with a variety of vehicles that have all been painted and polished, buffed and shined, and returned to their original beauty. Adults can view the vehicles, talk shop with the owners, and maybe relive some happy times long gone, while kids can marvel at hot cars similar to ones their parents once owned, drove and celebrated their youth in while slowly cruising the streets.

The Cruise-In is free to both vehicle owners and everyone wanting to see the classic vehicles up close, Gantt said. And, according to Gantt, there will be plenty of vehicles to see.

“In the past, we have had more than 300 trucks and cars participate in the Cruise-In,” he said.

WSPA-TV will once again broadcast live from the festival with “Scene On 7,” scheduled for 7:30-8 p.m.

On the festival’s main stage, The Extraordinaires will entertain, providing music from 6:15-7 p.m. and then again beginning at 8 p.m.

Saturday’s festivities will kick off with the eighth annual Pickens Women Association 5K Run/Walk, which begins at South Lewis Street next to Pickens First Baptist Church.

The festival’s opening ceremonies, complete with National Anthem, posting of the colors and a welcome from city councilman Fletcher Perry, will kick off at 10 a.m.

Saturday’s festival happenings will provide a wealth of free entertainment, as well as rides, self-guided tours, food, arts and crafts, and a children’s creation area throughout the day.

Atlanta-based classic funk band Mother’s Finest will close the festival with a bang as it takes the main stage at 8 p.m. Saturday night.

“There’s always something fun to do at the Azalea Festival and this year’s event is shaping up to be one of the best, if not the very best,” Gantt said.

For additional information about the festival, visit