Spring in Pickens means it’s Azalea Festival time

PICKENS — “When the azaleas are blooming in Pickens, South Carolina, the little town celebrates!”
This quote from a 1989 brochure is as fitting today as it was then. The 27th annual Pickens Azalea Festival will provide as much fun, entertainment and history as ever when it returns this year on Friday and Saturday, April 15-16.

As patrons and citizens of the “little town” have come to expect, the Azalea Festival will be packed with things to fill the senses, from arts and crafts to please the eyes and savory foods to tempt the taste and smell, to great music and lots of laughter to soothe the ears and the soul.

The weekend’s activities will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday night with the annual Classic Car Cruise-In sprawling down the city’s Main Street. Whether visitors have a classic car or jeep to show off or just want to reminisce as they stroll through the classic collection, the car show is the ideal venue. There is no fee or registration required to enter a vehicle. The festival is also presenting its first-ever Cruise-In dash plaque and t-shirt at this year’s show. The show will be highlighted by Friday evening’s musical entertainment “Too Much Sylvia,” with music from the ‘70s through today.

Saturday morning is all about action as the day begins at 8 a.m. with the first “Pedal Pickens County Charity Ride” for Meals on Wheels. The deadline to register for the 10-mile, 25-mile, 40-mile or “Metric Century” bicycle course is Thursday, April 14. At 8:30 a.m., the Pickens Women’s Association’s fifth annual 5K Walk/Run will begin in the PHS parking lot. Registration is required, with a reduced fee for early registration by April 2, and a t-shirt and goody bag for the first 100 registered participants. Finally, get the little ones going at 10 a.m. with Kiddy Sprint races. The first 25 registered participants will receive a free bicycle helmet.

Opening ceremonies for the festival will be held at 10 a.m. on the main stage next to the Pickens County Courthouse.

Area artists and vendors will have a plethora of things to peruse or purchase.
There will be more than 40 civic non-profit organizations offering food and services to raise money for their worthwhile causes. The kids will be enthralled with the amusement rides and carnival foods presented in Legacy Square, and free activities in the Children’s Creation area. Helicopter rides leave from Bruce Field football stadium to show Pickens from above, and carriage rides will give a downtown tour. The History Club of the Carolinas will present a military encampment in the park near Main Street, and free musical entertainment from many local musicians and groups will entertain all day.

Parking will be available at the old Winn-Dixie building a short distance away, and a shuttle will be provided from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. by Grace United Methodist Church, making rounds every 30 minutes from the lot to Grace Church, a short walking distance from the festival.

As evening arrives, the musical entertainment will be turned over to Saturday night’s featured group, the “Tim Clark Band.” Hailing from Myrtle Beach, the band boasts incredible versatility, featuring dance, shag, rock and party music from the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and today. All this made the band quickly become one of the most popular and top-drawing bands in their hometown. The front man for this popular group is, of course, Tim Clark, who has more than 20 years of experience entertaining audiences all along the East Coast. Much of this experience came from his time as lead singer of the hugely popular Charlotte band Sugarcreek.

Adding to his band are Thomas Stanley III on bass and vocals, Brandon Clark on guitar and vocals, J. Breez on drums and vocals, Bland Sawyer on keyboard and vocals, as well as lighting director Tony Stanley and sound engineer Owen Dollar.

Putting his own unique blend of charisma, showmanship and vocal talent on stage with a group of amazing musicians, Clark has proven his band to be extraordinary musical entertainment.