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C.S. Lewis once said, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”  This month, Downtown Greenville offers many ways in which to enrich your life with the literary talents of local professional and amateur writers alike.

Throughout the Fall, students from several area schools have worked with acclaimed poet and performer, Glenis Redmond as part of the Peace Center’s “Artist-in-Residence” program. The result is “Peace Voices” –a special youth performance in which these young artists share their thoughts, dreams and imaginations through their original poetry.  Ms. Redmond, who is herself an autobiographical poet, will share her own work and well as the literary creations of her young novices. This special performance will take place at The Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre at 7PM on Tuesday, January 8. This is a free event, but tickets are required. For more information, visit www.peacecenter.org or call the box office at 467-3000.

The Upcountry History Museum has partnered with the Greenville Library System to present a collection of tales reflecting the rich storytelling traditions of the Upstate.  In this series of four Tuesday performances, some of the area’s most compelling writers and literary artists will share how their work is colored by our region. The series begins with a presentation of poetry by Vera Gomez on Tuesday, January 8.  The series will continue with performances by non-fiction author, Dot Jackson on the 15th, fiction writer, George Singleton on the 22nd and finishing with poet Glenis Redmond on the 29th. All performances will take place from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Hughes Main Library. This event is free to the public but registration is required. For more information, visit www.greenvillelibrary.org or call 527-9293.

Every Sunday evening at 7:30PM, Coffee Underground comes alive with the spoken words and righteous rhymes of their “Wit’s End” Coffee & Poetry. Hosted by the Unified Sol Poets, poets of all experience and skill levels are invited to read and perform their own original works in this longest running poetry series in the state. The series is wrapped up each month with a Poetry Slam on the last Sunday of each month. The cost is $5 with registration starting at 7PM. For more information, visit www.witsendpoetry.com.

After attending some of these events, you may feel compelled to do a little writing of your own. The Emry’s Foundation, together with Hub City of Spartanburg, are once again partnering to encourage writers in their annual Creative Writing Contest. The contest has two categories – excellence in poetry and excellence in fiction. Winners of each category will receive a full scholarship to Wildacres Writers Workshop – a week-long creative writing summer school in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Second and third place contestants will receive scholarships to Hub City’s summer workshop, “Writing in Place” at Wofford College. All entries must be received by February 1, 2013 and you must be 18 or older to enter. For more information, visit www.emrys.org.

Whether you are a professional journalist, a blogger like myself, a colorful storyteller or a soulful poet, Downtown Greenville can offer many creative opportunities for literary artists.  From a commentary on daily life to a poem about the gnarled roots of a familiar tree, Downtown Greenville can excite and inspire the creative juices in us all. Take a walk around our fair city, and you may feel inspired to wax poetic yourself!

 

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{November 27, 2012}   It’s Christmastime in the City…

Well Downtownies…the Thanksgiving dinner has been consumed, Black Friday deals have been had & you’ve gotten carpel tunnel syndrome from all the online shopping during Cyber Monday…so, what’s next? If you are a parent, keeping the little ones (& not-so-little ones) entertained can be a bit daunting – especially with the 2-week long Holiday break looming in the near future. But not to fret, my fellow DTGVL parental units, Downtown Greenville offers many excellent events for kids of all ages, sure to keep you & your family on Santa’s NICE list!

Ask any Downtownie & they will tell you nothing kicks off the Holiday season like the Greenville Poinsettia Parade & the Christmas Tree Lighting. This year’s city Tree Lighting takes place 5:30PM on Saturday, December 1 at City Hall before the parade. Then the floats and marching bands roll out at 6PM, starting at River Street & continuing down Main, ending at  E. North Street. A favorite for all ages, families often make a day of it – taking in the sights and sounds of Downtown Greenville, before settling in at a spot along the parade route, hot chocolate or apple cider in hand.  For more information and a map of the parade route, visit www.greenvillesc.gov.

Speaking of kid-friendly fun, The Children’s Museum plans several Holiday craft projects for little creative hands and minds to keep busy during the month of December.  From designing Christmas Ornaments, to crafting Tissue Holiday Trees and mixing up Reindeer Food, there will be so much going on that you may actually make it through the Holiday season without hearing “I’m bored” even once!  The Children’s Museum’s Holiday celebration culminates with their “Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus” event on Saturday, December 15. Visit www.tcmupstate.org for more information.

Not to outdone on the Holiday fun, the Hughes Main Library has its own calendar of Holiday happenings for kids. From the craft projects at Kindercraft & InBetween classes, to  the Holiday Open House Party for kids 5 & under (Thursday, November 29 at 10:30AM) and  Santa’s Christmas Party with the Columbia Marionettes  for ages 4 & up (Friday, December 7, 10-11AM), there are tons of fun for the kids. They can even explore Holiday traditions from other countries through the Library’s “Explore Your World” program on December 4. For more information on this and other Library events,  call 527-9248.

Are your kids into music, theatre & dance? Then these events will certainly jingle their bells! The Greenville Museum of Art will be hosting the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Lollipops Concert for Kids on Saturday, December 8. The concert begins at 11AM and is followed by a Holiday Party at 2PM. This event is free to the public. For more info, see www.greenvillemuseum.org. The South Carolina Children’s Theatre is hosting its own Holiday Pajama Party on Wednesday, December 19 from 6:30-7:30PM. This Milk & Cookies themed event will feature a Holiday story time served up with…you guessed it …Santa’s favorite snack –  milk & cookies. The cost is $10 per child (adults are free) with pre-registration required at http://scchildrenstheatre.org. Ballet fans will have two opportunities to see “The Nutcracker” performed by two amazing ballet troupes at the Peace Center. The Carolina Ballet will be performing this time-honored favorite on November 30 – December 2 and the International Ballet will be performing it December 7-9. If your family prefers to see a theatrical performance of a Holiday classic, then catch “Miracle on 34th Street” performed at Centre Stage (http://centrestage.org)November 22 – December 22, “It’s a Wonderful Life” at The Greenville Little Theatre (www.greenvillelittletheatre.org) December 7-16, “The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t” at The Warehouse Theatre (www.warehousetheatre.com) December 7-29, and a play inspired by that favorite childhood twist on the classic Christmas carol – “Junie B in Jingle Bells Batman Smells” with the South Carolina Children’s Theatre (http://scchildrenstheatre.org) at the Peace Center , November 30-December 16.

The Holiday season in Downtown Greenville offers even more opportunities for families to catch the Holiday Spirit. From Horse Drawn Carriage Rides from Whispering Winds (www.downtowncarriage.com), to ice Skating at Ice on Main in the Village Green (www.iceonmain.com) and the St Francis Festival of Trees at various hotels downtown, there is something for everyone throughout December. So, whatever you celebrate this Holiday season, spend some of it in our lovely, festive Downtown. Happy Holidays, Y’all!

For a list of Holiday Happenings taking place in Downtown Greenville, visit http://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&note_id=427455850642353&id=371197456807



It’s Sunday morning and you’ve awaken with the desire to do something. Not just anything, but something that’ll rev up your internal engine, wind up your weekend and kickstart a new week! Well, my friend, it sounds like a trip to Downtown Greenville is in order!

Brunch is an excellent way to get your Sunday moving in the right, adventurous direction. Several Downtown establishments offer brunch and the choices are as varied as your tastes. Want a brunch that has a certain laid-back sophistication? Then, try the Jazz Brunch at High Cotton. With a mouth-watering selection of Southern classics (my personal favorite is the Crab Cakes Benedict), many foodies deem this a weekend necessity.  Serving brunch from 11AM until 2PM, this Sunday’s musical entertainment will be provided by local talent and High Cotton regulars, The Ian Bracchitta Trio. Some other great choices for brunch include The Green Room (serving brunch all day from 9AM until 5PM), The Bohemian (serves brunch from 11AM until @2PM), Mary Beth’s (especially good for early risers, serves brunch from7AM until 3PM), American Grocery Restaurant (Fresh, local ingredients, brunch served 11AM-2PM) or the Spoonbread Restaurant at The Poinsett Hotel (a Greenville institution, serving brunch from 10AM until 2PM).

After brunch, stroll down College Street to Heritage Green and the Greenville County Museum of Art. Every Sunday at 2PM, the art museum offers a wide range of special events and programs at their appropriately named “Sundays @ 2”. The schedule includes artist and gallery talks, special tours, music, and demonstrations. These events are free and many are designed with families in mind. The next two Sundays feature “Music in the Galleries” with the Pride of Greenville Men’s Chorus on the 29th and Celtic Singer Judy McKenney on August 5th. After the performance, take a few moments to tour the evocative, ever-changing exhibits on display. The Greenville Museum of Art is open from 1PM until 5PM on Sundays.  For more information, visit http://www.greenvillemuseum.org.

If you wish to continue your “artsy vibe”, then consider checking out Greenville’s thriving theatre scene. Many of Downtown’s community theatre’s feature matinee times for recent performances. Currently showing at Centre Stage is the 60’s inspired musical, “Beehive”. The play runs through August 11 and matinees are at 3PM, Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students and available through the Box office or online at http://centrestage.org. If Shakespeare is more your thing, then head over to Falls Park at 7PM for Shakespeare in the Park. This “motley crew” of players tells the Bard’s tales, with a modern twist. Currently showing is a contemporary adaption of “Henry V”, complete with “mosh pit” battle scenes to the Celtic-punk tunes of Dropkick Murphys!  Even your bored teens will get into this! Performances are free, but donations are greatly appreciated.

If the evening finds you with the urge to be in air-conditioned comfort, then look no further than Coffee Underground. For some sick rhymes taken with some medicinal caffeine, join other wordsmiths for the Wit’s End Poetry Slam. Regional artists, including the renowned poets from Unified Sol, heat up Sunday nights with some cool poetic insight during this open mic event. Doors open at 7:30PM, everyone is welcome and there is a $5 cover charge. For more information, visit: www.coffeeunderground.biz.

No matter what your interests are, there’s always something to do Downtown. From the many shops and art galleries and museums such as the Upcountry History Museum and The Children’s Museum, to a bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail or a Drive game at Fluor Field, there’s always an event to suit your mood. For a detailed list of daily Downtown happenings, check out the Downtown Greenville Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/DowntownGreenvilleSC.

Here are some more fun Sunday Things to do Downtown:

Upcountry History Museum:  A family-friendly interactive museum showcases the diverse history of Greenville and the Upstate. Sunday hours are 1PM until 5PM and Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 4-18. www.upcountryhistory.org

The Children’s Museum: A kid-friendly, interactive museum that encourages creative play. Special daily events, programs and classes offered, usually at no additional cost. Sunday hours are 11AM to 5PM and Admission is $9 for children 2-12 and $10 for adults. www.tcmupstate.org

Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville:   Featuring work from local artists that are available for sale, this gallery also hosts receptions and other special events open to the public. Admission is free and Sunday hours are 1PM until 5PM. http://artistsguildgalleryofgreenville.org

Greenville Zoo: Located near Cleveland Park, this small Zoo is very family-friendly. Sunday hours are 9AM until 5PM. Admission is $7.75 for adults, $4.50 for kids 3-15. For a list of special Zoo events, see www. greenvillezoo.com

Greenville Drive: Greenville’s minor league baseball team, who plays home games at Fluor Field. Sunday home games usually start at 4PM. Tickets are $5 – $8 and are available through the box office or online. For tickets or game schedule, see http://www.milb.com.

Swamp Rabbit Trail: This17.5 mile multi-use trail system runs along the Reedy River connecting Travelers Rest with the City of Greenville. For a map of the trial, visit http://greenvillerec.com/parks/swamprabbit/

Reedy Rides: Dedicated bicycle rental business located in downtown Greenville. Can deliver bikes right to the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Sunday hours are 8AM to 8PM. For more info, call (864) 419-2944

Downtown Trolley:  The trolley runs Downtown on Sundays from 1PM until 8PM and rides are free of charge.  Download a map of the trolley route at  http://www.greenvillesc.gov

 



Summer’s coming…that time of year school kids count down to with great anticipation.  After the initial elation of “No more pencils, no more books”, summertime boredom sets in.  But with this fun assortment of summer classes and camps for kids and teens, you may never have to hear “I’m bored” even once!

With interactive, kid-friendly exhibits and activities, it’s no surprise that The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is a favorite with kids year-round. When the temps get warmer, the fun factor gets amped up…BIG TIME! Offering weekly day camps that have delightful themes such as “Build It”, “Let’s Move” and “Passport to Fun”, kids of all ages will happily discover something to spark their interest! Camp sessions begin mid-June and the cost ranges from $125 for the Lil Sprouts Camps (ages 4 & 5) and $250 for the Big Kids Camp (K5-5th graders). Pre-registration is required. For more information, visit: www.tcmupstate.org.

The Greenville Zoo is another wonderful place for kids anytime of the year. Like the Children’s Museum, when summer comes, the Zoo offers exciting and educational camps for kids from pre-school to middle school. Camps are scheduled for several weeks, starting in early June, with morning and afternoon sessions available. There is even an overnight camp for teens. Rates range from $45 – $105 for Zoo Members and $50-$115 for Non-Members. Pre-registration is required, and some dates may be already be full. This year’s theme is “Animal Mythbusters: Truth or Myth”. With behind-the-scenes adventures, exciting games and crafts and discussions with zookeepers, kids will have so much fun, they won’t realize they’re learning! For more information, visit www.greenvillezoo.com

For the future Oscar winner in your family, Greenville’s theatre community offers several opportunities for your young thespian to earn their acting chops. The South Carolina Children’s Theatre has long been a source for theatrical entertainment and education for theatre enthusiasts of all ages. Summertime is no different. Preschool and young elementary schoolers can discover their hidden fairy selves or release their inner pirate with fun day camps that encourage young ones frolic in their imaginary worlds. 1st-5th graders will get to don their superhero capes and save the world in SCCT’s Superhero Camp and Teens and Tweens will have the chance to creatively “think on their feet” in a fun and exciting Improv Camp. The cost for these camps vary, starting at $150, and pre-registration is required. To find out more, visit:  http://scchildrenstheatre.org.

The Greenville Little Theatre has been the “jumping off point” for many talented young actors, including Oscar winner (and Greenville native) Joanne Woodward. GLT strives to continue that impressive tradition with theatre classes for teens and tweens that cover such important subjects as movie-making, musicals and play-writing. Classes begin in June with “Let’s Make a Movie”. Costs vary from $150-$200 and pre-registration is required. To learn more about GLT’s programs, visit www.greenvillelittletheatre.org.

For your budding Monets and Picassos, the Greenville County Museum of Art offers an array of imaginative art classes in many mediums. K5 – 5th graders will be encouraged to explore the watercolors of Andrew Wyeth, make a hamburger bigger than their head, and learn about 3-dimensional art, all under the tutelage of some of the Upstate’s finest artists. Teens will have the opportunity to fine-tune their drawing skills with Bruce Bunch, dabble in fashion design with Emily Clarke, and tap into the wonders of wool and fiber art with Deb Potter. Classes begin in June and the cost is $99 per class. Pre-registration is required. For a list of classes and more info, visit: http://artclasses.greenvillemuseum.org.

Children with autism often have difficulty expressing themselves and also find it difficult to locate summer programs that fit their unique needs. A new writing program, Ugly Words, inspires and empowers Upstate children ages 8-18 to write frequently and with confidence through a combination of workshops and tutoring. This unique program encourages these kids to explore their imaginations and write about their experiences in THEIR words, without fear of being corrected.  Three pilot programs have been scheduled for this summer to take place at Hughes Main Library and cover a broad range of subjects from fort-building and urban archaeology to teen literary favorite, “The Hunger Games”. These workshops are free, but registration is required and opens May 31. For more information about this wonderful program, please visit: http://HYPERLINK “http://uglywordsgreenville.tumblr.com/”uglywordsgreenville.tumblr.com.

In addition to the Ugly Words programs, the Hughes Main Library offers many activities for kids of all ages. From Summer Reading Programs and Storytime to Craft Time and Theatrical Productions, the library offers a little something for kids of all ages. For a schedule of programs and classes, visit the Greenville Library System’s website at www.greenvillelibrary.org.

Greenville’s Parks and Recreation also has a variety of fun activities designed just for kids. Their Super Summer Day Camp for boys and girls age 5-12 takes place Monday-Friday at each of the City’s Community Centers. The campers get to enjoy arts and crafts, fitness and sports, music, field trips and much more. Cost is $225 for this 10-week camp (Greenville residents get a 20% discount) and pre-registration is required. In addition to the Summer Camps, the Community Centers also offer an eclectic mix of activities and classes for kids and teens that range from Art & Design and Music Classes to Tennis and Fitness Camps. Cost varies depending on the class. For more information, visit the Greenville City page at: http://www.greenvillesc.gov/ParksRec/CommunityCenter.

Well, there you have it – plenty of activities to keep little hands busy and young minds focused. And Downtown Greenville also has many other attractions that thrill the little ones. From the Upstate History Museum to the Mice on Main, and all the fun and funky shops and restaurants, parents will find a plethora of family-friendly activities that are fun for kids and kids at heart. Have fun!

 



South Carolina has long been a melting pot for a variety of nationalities. Just take a stroll down Main Street and you are as likely to hear “Hola”, Bonjour” or “Gutentag” as you are “Hey Y’all”! When the temperatures rise in the Upstate, so do the number of festivals. May is no exception, giving you the opportunity to experience the cultures of West Africa, Greece and the Highlands of Scotland…all without leaving Greenville!

If “the Beat” means drumbeats, word beats or art and dance that will make your heart beat faster, the Emry’s Foundation has got the event for you. Members and non-members alike are invited  to The Kroc Center on Thursday, May 17th to enjoy a spectacular evening of West African cultre and Elements of Rhythm, Art and Verse. This collaborative event strives to demonstrate the many ways in which the written and spoken word unite all genres of art, and features inspiring artwork by April Harrison, impressive rhymes by Unifyed Sol poet, Robert Mullins, Jr (aka Moody Black), passionate African dance by Alisa Caldwell and her Elements of Rhythm dance company and heart-thumping drumbeats provided by the Spirit Beat Drummers. Festivities, which include a buffet style dinner, begin at 7PM and participants are encouraged to dress casually so that they may take part in the fun. Tickets are $25 for students and Kroc members, $35 for non-members and Emrys members are free. For more information on this event and other programs and events sponsored by the Emrys Foundation, visit: www.emrys.org.

The Greeks have known how to throw a party for thousands of years and Greenville’s Grecian community proudly carries on that tradition with their annual Greek Festival. For four fun-filled days (May 17 – 20), Greenville becomes “Greekville” as St. George Greek Orthodox Church becomes a sea of all things Greek. Beginning on Thursday, May 17th, you will be able to satisfy your cravings for souvlaki, gyros and all kinds of yummy Greek pastries as lunch and dinner will be served at the Hellenic Center. Don’t have time to sit down to eat? They have drive-thru service at the Elford Street entrance, so you can get a taste of Greece in minutes. The “glendi” (that’s Greek for party) really starts up on Friday, with an assortment of food, traditional Greek dance and live music. All that dancing will leave you exhausted, so be sure to stop by the Kafenion (Greek Coffee Shop) to recharge your batteries with a steaming cup of Greek coffee and a wedge of delicious baklava, before strolling through the Marketplace to view an assortment of Mediterranean wares.  The festivities continue full swing through the weekend until Sunday evening. Hours are 10:30AM to 8PM (Dining only) Thursday, 10:30AM to 10PM Friday and Saturday,  and 11:30AM to 8PM Sunday. Cost of admission is only $1. For more information, visit: www.stgeorgegreenville.org/GreekFestival.

Not many people have had the chance to see a Scottish Claymore up close…with the exception of some Romans, Vikings, English and anyone else unwise enough to venture into The Highlands uninvited. Visitors to this year’s Greenville Scottish Games will not only be treated to big guys in kilts tossing telephone poles (those are called cabers, BTW) but to demonstrations in sword fighting featuring the fearsome broadsword.  On Saturday, May 26th, the campus at Furman will play host to world-class athletes in 2012 Masters World Championships. On Sunday, amateurs will take the field to flex their muscles and compete in heavy athletics. Competition begins at 8AM both days. Feeling the urge to compete yourself? Then take part in the axe-throwing competiton, which is open to everyone. Afterwards, visit the food tents to taste that Scottish delicacy, haggis (trust me, you really DON’T want to know what’s in it).

Are you more of a lover than a fighter? Take the kids to run amuck in Wee Scotland. Then venture over to the Highland Dancers stage, the British Car Show, to the vendors tents, the Border Collie herding competition or over to the Entertainment tent for some righteous Celtic rock.  If you are lucky, you’ll happen upon a lone piper, preparing for the Piping competition. Speaking of rock, the festivities start Thursday, May 24th as the Scots, in true Highland fashion, invade Downtown Alive, to rock out to the music of the Celtic band, Cleghorn and again on  Friday, May 25th, at Main Street Friday to party to the tunes of Coyote Run and Albannach. At 6PM on Friday, Downtown will be awash in plaid as kilted revelers stroll down Main Street in the Great Scot Parade. The Parade, which grows larger each year,  will feature pipe bands, Scottish military re-enactors, Highland themed floats, Scottish forest fairies and more tartans than you can shake a bagpipe at – all to get the weekend started Highland style! Saturday’s events will wind down with a rockin’ ceildh (that’s Gaelic for party) of a Celtic Jam. For an events schedule, to order tickets and for more information on the Scottish Games, visit: http://gallabrae.com.

As you see, Downtown Greenville offers many opportunities to experience a different culture…no passport required! So dance to African drumbeats, stuff yourself with baklava or release your inner Braveheart! You’ll be all the richer for the experience!



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