downtowngreenvillegirl











(Art, The Bard, Greeks, Great Scots & a little Caribbean Crush…)

It’s still May and despite some decidedly unseasonable weather last week, it’s still one of my favorite times to be Downtown! As the flowers bloom, so does Downtown and she shows off with a whirlwind of events that’ll get you out of your house and down on Main Street! This week’s blog highlights everyone’s favorite Arts festival, some works by the Bard, party with some cool Caribbean vibes, going Greek and a lot of guys in kilts!

To art lovers, Spring means one thing…ARTISPHERE! This weekend, our fair city will play host to this exuberant celebration of the visual and performing arts. Beginning with a fancy Opening Gala at Courtyard by Marriott and Nantucket Grill on Thursday, Artisphere launches into full swing on Friday, May 10th. Featuring not only exhibits from local and regional artisans, this arts extravaganza also spotlights performances from local musicians, theatre groups, dance troupes and other performing artists. Saturday and Sunday’s festivities also include Wine Tasting, Artists’ Demonstrations and Classes, as well as fun events for the kids at Kidsphere. And, since Sunday is Mothers’ Day, this event offers an excellent array of creative gift ideas for Mom. As always, restaurant vendors will be on hand to offer a variety of choices in food, beverage, beer and wine. Hours for this festival are noon -8PM on Friday, 10AM – 8PM on Saturday, and 11AM – 6PM on Sunday. There is no admission to this event held on Main Street and Broad near Falls Park. For more information, visit http://www.Artisphere.us.

Fans of all things flamingoes and flip-flops will LOVE the South Carolina Children’s Theatre’s Annual Fundraiser, Caribbean Crush! This laid-back event featuring Caribbean steel drums, fantastic food, beach drinks and a silent auction has been the talk of the town for the past 6 years. So, don your sunglasses and Hawaiian shirts and join the other Bermuda-shorted partiers at ZEN on Friday, May 17th. The festivities go into full swing at 7PM, with tickets still available for $50 and all proceeds benefitting the many wonderful programs for children and teens the SCCT has to offer. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.scchildrenstheatre.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 16 – 19), Greenville becomes “Greekville” as St. George Greek Orthodox Church becomes a sea of all things Greek. Beginning on Thursday, May 16th, 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: http://www.stgeorgegreenville.org/GreekFestival.

On Thursday, May 23, the Scots invade Downtown in true Highland fashion to rock out to the music of the Celtic band, Cleghorn (with guests, Smash the Radio and The Greenville Pipes & Drums) at Downtown Alive! Then on Friday evening, Downtown will be awash in plaid as kilted revelers stroll down Main Street in the Great Scot Parade. Starting at 6PM, 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! The Friday festivities will grow to a fevered pitch with a raucous “ceildh” (that’s Gaelic for party)at the Peace Center Amphitheatre, featuring the music of Rathkeltair and Albannach. Want to really release your inner Braveheart? Then join your fellow Gaelic enthusiasts at the 2013 Greenville Scottish Games at Furman on Saturday, May 25. Competition begins at 8AM with evnts such as caber-tossing and piping continuing all day. Afterwards, visit the food tents to taste such Scottish delicacies as haggis (trust me, you really DON’T want to know what’s in it) and to browse through the vendors’ tents featuring goods from the heathered isles. Once again, Saturday’s events will wind down with a rockin’ Celtic Jam. For an events schedule, to order tickets and for more information on the Scottish Games, visit: http://gallabrae.com.

If all the world is a stage, then the stage is definitely set for the Upstate Shakespeare Festival at Falls Park. Every Thursday – Sunday, beginning May 23, Downtown thespians and other fans of a fellow named Shakespeare, will have the chance to experience some of his finest works…with a twist. This season marks the 19th for the festival , which Southern Living has named one of the Best Summer events in the South and attracts over 18,000 each summer. The Festival kicks off with a modern retelling of the action-filled drama, Hamlet (which runs through June 15th) The next in the series, Comedy of Errors will open on July 11th and run through August 3rd. Performances begin at 7PM and are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.warehousetheatre.com/upstate-shakespeare-festival.

So Downtownies…May is practically bursting with fun things to do in the DTGVL! So, why are you still sitting at your computer? Get yourself Downtown and enjoy all it has to offer! See you there!



(Or…Movies, Market, Men in High Heels, Painting the Town Red & Lots of Rubber Duckies…)

May has to be one of my favorite times to be in Downtown Greenville. The near-perfect beauty of Downtown’s bright green foliage, & brick red buildings silhouetted against the Carolina blue sky is enough to take my breath away! Add to that, the increasingly pleasant temps and the also-increasing number of great events going on, and you have more fun than should be legal! Too much fun, in fact, for just one blog! This week’s “Part 1” contains tidbits about Moonlight Movies, The Saturday Market, a Men’s High Heel Race, an invitation to paint the town Red…and a whole lot of cute little rubber duckies!

Fans of classic movies anxiously await Moonlight Movies. This free, city-sponsored event allows movies fans to view the classics outdoors in the splendid beauty of Falls Park. Shown each Wednesday (weather permitting) starting at 8-ish in the evening, this family-friendly event takes place every May and September. This year’s theatrical line-up includes the 1953 drama, “From Here to Eternity”, starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr (May 1), John Ford’s 1956 western, “The Searchers”, starring John Wayne (May 8), the 1938 Cukor comedy, “Holiday”, starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant (May 15) and the delightfully quirky “Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein” (May 22). The movie for May 29 is a Viewer’s Choice, where the movie garnering the most fan votes will be shown. The choices are “To Catch a Thief”, “On The Waterfront” and “Philadelphia Story”. Lawn chairs, blankets and picnics are welcome, but like most city-sponsored events, pets are not allowed. For more information, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov.

Let Kentucky keep their thoroughbred racing horses, we’ve got cute ‘lil rubber duckies! This most beloved of Downtown’s annual events, the Reedy River Duck Derby, takes place Saturday, May 4th at Reedy River Falls Park and benefits the many local charities assisted by the Rotary Club of Greenville. An all-day event (10AM – 4PM), the fun includes plenty of kid-friendly activities for families. The highlight, of course, is the race itself, which starts at 2:30PM, with participants battling for an array of fabulous prizes. A mere $10 will purchase a certified racing duck to enter in the race (MUCH less expensive than a high-strung thoroughbred horse), or you can purchase a “Quack Pack” for $30 and receive 4 ducks for the price of 3 (all to better your chances of victory). Prior to the official duck race, the Greenville County Soil and Water Conservation District will conduct its own race of “Yucky Duckies” to promote clean water. If you would like to purchase a duck for the race or wish to find out more about this event, visit: http://www.reedyriverduckderby.com.

One of the most anticipated openings in Downtown Greenville is the start of The Saturday Market. Visitors and locals alike are invited to take a morning stroll on Main Street (at Court Street) every Saturday from May to October to experience the delectable sights, sounds, scents and flavors of this favorite Downtown tradition. The 2013 market season starts up again this Saturday, May 4, from 8AM until noon. Featuring the finest in fresh local produce, beautiful crafts by area artisans and live music by some of the region’s best talent, The Saturday Market is family friendly fun for all! For more information and a calendar of weekly events, visit http://saturdaymarketlive.com.

The next event is also one of Greenville’s favorite May events – The Red Party. Each year, AID Upstate invites others to “Dine With Friends” as part of their annual fundraising and Aids Awareness campaign. After having dinner with your pals, participants are invited to The Red Party to enjoy drinks at the cash bar and free desserts. Everyone is welcome to come and “Dance Your Face Off” at this year’s Silver Jubilee soiree at ZEN Greenville on Saturday, May 4th. The festivities will start up at 9PM and last until midnight! There is no need to purchase advance tickets, but a $25 donation is required (and greatly appreciated) at the door. Funds raised will provide supportive services to those Upstate families affected by HIV/AIDS. For more information on The Red Party, AID Upstate or to participate in “Dining With Friends” visit https://www.facebook.com/TheRedParty.

Women in high heels…fashionably elegant …Men in high heels…side-splitting hilarity! See how the “other half” lives or just come get your chuckles – all for a great cause – at the 2nd Annual Men’s High Heel Race on Sunday, May 5. The stillettoed, testosterone-fueled masses will meet up at Ford’s Oyster House and Cajun Kitchen at 9AM, before making the mad “diva dash” down Main Street, in a riotous competition for some really cool prizes! All proceeds benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research (JDRF) in the Western Carolinas. Want to don your best pair of pumps and take part? Registration is going on now (through Friday, May 3) for a participation fee of $25. Participants will be treated to post-run brunch at Ford’s where they can kick off their heels and rest their tired tootsies! For more information, or to register for the race, visit https://www.facebook.com/MensHighHeelRaceGreenvilleSc.

So there you have it Downtownies…a virtual plethora of May happenings. Check next week’s blog for “Part Two” of this article. Until then, have fun, be safe and see you Downtown! Now, if I could only find a tiny jockey to ride my Duck Derby entry, I’d be set!



When the dogwoods and azaleas bloom on North Main and the temps start to rise, so do the number of really cool festivals Downtown! This weekend, two wonderful festivals, for some equally wonderful causes, will be taking place on and near Main Street. So, if you adore a little wine and jazz or if the smell of bar-be-que makes your heart beat a little faster, head Downtown to pay homage to three of this Southern Girl’s favorite things!

Fine Wine and Smooth Jazz go together like…well …wine and jazz! If you are a lover of both, then join your fellow wine & jazz connessieurs on Friday, April 26, for the Reedy River Jazz & Wine Festival. Starting at 6PM (until 10PM) some of the best regional jazz musicians will be taking the TD Stage at The Peace Center Amphitheatre. The line-up of talent includes locals such as the Anderson University Jazz Ensemble and the Keith Davis Trio, as well as the marvelous jazz vocals of Carol Ingbretsen and the Afro-Cuban jazz fusion of Con Clave. Add to that some delectable food from Larkin’s on the River, amazing wines and the gorgeous views of the Reedy River, all to benefit our local Ronald McDonald House, and you have a mighty fine festival indeed! Tickets are $60 in advance, $65 at the gate (half price for students & military (with ID) and those over 65) and are available online at http://www.reedyriverjazzandwinefestival.org.

Few things get my heart & taste buds jumping like a big ‘ol plate of South Carolina BBQ! And for the meat lovers of our city, no one-day BBQ Cook-off will do! For two days, April 26 & 27th, the succulent aromas of freshly made pulled pork, ribs and chicken wings will invade Downtown Greenville – particularly, the corner of South Main & Broad Streets, as the Project Host BBQ Cook-Off & Festival returns. Benefitting this wonderful local charity, this annual event, now in its fourth year, will feature some of the best local and regional chefs around! Friday will feature a “People’s Choice Chicken Wing Competition” where chefs will test their culinary skills with this favorite snack. Saturday’s competition will feature pulled pork butts and ribs. The event runs from 6PM -10PM on Friday and 11AM – 10PM on Saturday (Saturday tasting is from 11AM – 2:30PM). Those wishing to participate in the judging can purchase tickets to taste for $1 or for $10, you can purchase a big plate of BBQ! For more information, visit http://www.projecthost.org/bbq.

So, there you have it Downtownies! You can sit back, listen to some great jazz while sipping wine by the Reedy River. Or you can stuff your face with pulled pork, chicken wings and ribs! Or do both! And it all goes to some great causes! What could be better! See you there!



Well, March is upon us and Downtown Greenville is starting look even more GREEN than usual! For the Irish and the “wish they were Irish” this is the most wonderful time of the year! And Downtown has plenty of ways for even the youngest “wee ones” to join in on the St. Paddy’s Day fun!

Festivities for the “greenest ‘ of all holidays kick off with a St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 10th. Celtic revelers will don their green apparel to stroll down Main Street and celebrate all that is Irish! With an eclectic array of Irish music, step dance teams, Irish wolfhounds, setters and other Irish dog breeds, not to mention the obligatory leprechaun or two, this free event will delight one and all! The hour (or so) long parade begins at 1PM, with participants lining up on South Main Street at Wardlaw. For more information, call 288-2922.

After the parade, join the rest of Greenville’s Irish community and “Return to the Green”. For most, this free event signals the true start of the whirlwind of St. Paddy’s celebrations. Starting at 1PM, this family-friendly shindig features Irish step dancers, Irish music from the Greenville Pipes & Drum Corps among others, authentic Irish food, the ever-popular selection of domestic and Irish beer and more Irish accents (both real and faked) than you can shake a shillelagh at. This year’s shamrock soiree takes place at Fluor Field with festivities continuing until 6PM. For details, visit http://www.returntothegreensc.com.

The Children’s Museum gets into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit with some special events for all the lads & lassies. Wee ones ages 5 and under can make beautiful Mosaic Shamrocks from cut paper in TCMU’s “S is for Shamrock” art classes. The classes take place daily, at various times, from March 12 through March 16. The classes are free with museum admission and children must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, visit http://www.tcmupstate.org.

The Augusta Road Library welcomes all the little leprechauns to join them on Saturday, March 16, for “A Wee Bit of Blarney”. This St. Patrick’s Day celebration will feature Irish stories, holiday crafts and green refreshments. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Call 277-0161 for more information.

Also on March 16th, The Palmetto Children’s Charity invites you to join them at Fluor Field for the 2nd annual St. Patty’s Dash & Bash. Featuring certified 5k and 10k runs, as well as a children’s “Fun Run” and other kid-friendly activities, this family-centered event benefits local children’s charities like The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Let There Be Mom and Camp Spearhead. Although the event itself is free, there is a $25 registration fee for those wishing to participate in the 5k and 10k runs. Packet pickup is at Fluor Field from noon to 7PM on March 15 and 6:30AM to 7:30AM the day of the race, which begins at 8AM. To register and to find out more, visit http://www.stpattysdashandbash.com.

Another event seeking to make a difference is the annual St. Baldrick’s event at Larkin’s on the River. This annual event, which benefits childhood cancer research, is a much beloved St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Festivities begin at 1PM on March 17th. Whether you’re a spectator, a donor or one of those brave souls allowing their heads to be shaved in the name of charity, you cannot help but be moved and inspired by this event. For more information and to donate, visit http://www.stbaldricks.org.

So, there is no excuse not to head Downtown to shake your shamrocks a bit on St. Paddy’s Day! Just be sure to wear something green or you may get pinched! Details regarding more “adult-oriented” St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be in next week’s blog. Until then, “May the Road rise up to meet You, & may the Wind be always at your back.” Happy St. Paddy’s Day!



I don’t know about you, but when the temps turn chilly, my thoughts turn TO chili…the kind with lots of meat & beans! Every region thinks they have the best chili cooks in the country. Now, I may be biased, but I think it’s hard to beat the chili-making talent found right here in lil ‘ol G’Vegas! This Saturday, The Handlebar (304 E. Stone Avenue) will showcase the very best Greenville has to offer in its 5th Sometimes Annual Chili Cook-Off.

This most beloved of Downtown’s music venues has long been bringing the heat in the form of blazing guitar riffs, heated drum solos & steamy vocals. But, this Saturday, November 17th, they will be bringing the heat of the culinary kind…full of cayenne, curry and a few other ingredients I’m not allowed to disclose at this time. Starting at 4PM, some of the best chili chefs in the area will be going head-to-head in a gastronomical cage match (okay, so there’s ACTUALLY no cage, but the competition still pretty heated). And there will be no culinary school trained judges for THIS event of the people!!! No sir…The Handlebar invites YOU to be the judge of who is the BEST chili chef in Greenville. For $10, guests will receive a ballot, a bowl to sample all the meaty, beanie, chili goodness AND a beer to wash it all down with. Be one of the first 100 to sign up & you get to keep your pint glass…how cool is that!

But wait…there’s more! Not only will you get to make your taste buds sing (or cry for mercy) with all this delectable chili excellence, but The Handlebar will be providing the amazing live, local music they are famous for! Feed your inner music lover with tunes by Wasted Wine, Tim TV, Our World Festival, Darby Wilcox & Zumba! Best of all…it’s FREE!

For those who wish to get a little Christmas shopping done while they fill their senses & stomachs with musical & culinary goodness…well, The Handlebar can help you there too! Starting at 11AM (until 4PM), Outside Arts SC will exhibit works by some of the area’s coolest and most innovative artisans in the 2012 Holiday Market. Benefitting the Greenville chapter of Meals on Wheels, this event allows you to meet these talented artists in an intimate setting, enjoy a unique shopping experience and take home some special one of a kind gifts for everyone  on your list.

So come on out to The Handlebar this Saturday for some tasty food, hot tunes & one-of-a-kind crafts…you’ll be glad you did!

For more information, visit:

The Handlebar: www.handlebar-online.com

Outside Arts SC: http://www.outsideartssc.com



Most Southerners will be quick to tell you, we’re just a little more creative than your average folk. Maybe it’s because our resourceful forebears had to make do with very little, or maybe it’s because the heat & humidity force us to do things more inventively, but life tends to be a little more imaginative here in the South. After all, a great many world-renowned artists, writers, actors and other respected thespians hail from this region. Downtown Greenville is no exception…we love our art and we love our artists! This month spotlights the love we share for the artistic side of our fair city with two really cool art events.

The first event is a newcomer to the Greenville Arts Scene.  Inspired by a similar event that takes place each summer in New Orleans, White Linen Night Greenville strives to showcase Downtown Greenville’s thriving Arts Community and to introduce art conneseiuers & art “newbies” alike to the many wonderful local galleries tucked away just off Main Street in a way that is fun, friendly, and …best of all… FREE! Part art gallery tour, part pub crawl & shopping excursion, this laid-back event is a farewell to summer celebration throughout Main Street from The Hyatt to the West End.  Visitors will find art openings at a dozen galleries on and near Main Street, with contemporary works by local, regional and nationally known artists. Also, many of the galleries will feature live entertainment, refreshments and artists’ discussions & demonstrations. Plus, those taking part in the “crawl” can register for a chance to win prizes such as gift certificates and other “goodies” from some of the coolest Downtown restaurants & retail establishments.

Taking place September 1st, attendees are encouraged to wear white during this Labor Day Weekend event – traditionally the last time one was supposed to wear white. Festivities begin at the Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville (200 North Main Street) with registration from 5PM until 6PM. Galleries will be open for the Art Crawl until 10PM. Not to be left out of the fun, many Downtown restaurants and retail establishments are offering White Linen Specials on food, drinks and other products during the event.  Art lovers of all ages are encouraged to come out for this wonderful chance to see (and purchase) some incredible local art and learn about Greenville’s vibrant art scene from the artists and gallery owners themselves.  For more information on White Linen Night Greenville, visit their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/WhiteLinenNightGreenville or follow on Twitter @WhiteLinenGVL.

The second event sharing the September arts spotlight is one that is making its long-awaited return to the Downtown events calendar. Art in the Park draws renowned artists from all over the Southeast region as well as thousands of on-lookers for a weekend of exhibits, demonstrations, and a gallery showcasing over 200 original works of art.  Established in 1991 as a festival for local artists, Art in the Park grew to include the best artists of the upstate and beyond, until 2008. By popular demand, Art in the Park is back for its 18th season, bringing back the best of what the festival brought to the community and its artists. The weekend of September 22nd & 23rd, South Main Street from Broad to Camperdown and at the end of the Liberty Bridge at Wyche Parking Lot will become a sea of artwork available not only for your viewing pleasure, but will also be for sale.  The event will take place 10AM – 6PM on Saturday, the 22nd and 11AM – 5PM on Sunday, the 23rd. For those wishing to broaden their artistic experience to include the culinary arts, Larkin’s on the River will be hosting an “Art After Dark” event on Saturday, the 23rd, from 7:30-11:30PM. For more information on Art in the Park & Art After Dark, visit: http://www.artintheparkgreenville.com.

So, venture Downtown and take in some of our city’s finest art & culture.  These events are a great way to introduce families to fine art and can also make an excellent Date Night or Girl’s Night Out event (especially White Linen Night and Art After Dark). Then you can top off your day or evening with a tour of Downtown’s “Art in Public Places”, hunt for the many “Mice on Main” with the kids, or treat yourself to dinner, drinks and dancing or live music at one of the many excellent Downtown venues! Sounds to me like time well-spent in our beautiful Downtown…which is itself a divine work of art!

For More Information:

White Linen Night Greenville:  A fun, friendly and free art crawl of several Main Street galleries – but with a twist! Find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WhiteLinenNightGreenville or follow on Twitter at @WhiteLinenGVL.

Art in the Park: Making its much anticipated return after a 4 year hiatus, this most favorite of Up[state art festivals features work from many local & regionally known artists. For more info, visit www.artintheparkgreenville.com

Art After Dark: An evening of good food, good spirits, good music and great art at Larkin’s on the River.

Art in Public Places: Take a walking or scenic driving tour through the City of Greenville and discover a diverse collection of unique artwork that has complemented the city’s continued growth. Each tour provides scenic maps of the city, photographs of all the city’s artwork and detailed descriptions and historical information.  For more information, visit: http://www.greenvillesc.gov/Culture/ArtinPublicPlaces

Mice on Main: Inspired by the book, “Good Night Moon”, these 10 wonderful little mice can be found peeking out from under foliage and landmarks throughout Downtown. Because of ongoing construction, some of the mice may have moved to a new location. For more information & hints to help with your own Mouse Hunt, visit: http://miceonmain.com

 



{August 7, 2012}   The Promise of Fall

When I stepped outside the other morning, the air held a hint of coolness signaling the fact that the Summer season had turned a corner. I came to the happy realization that Fall is on its way. There is just something special about Autumn in The South. I know, I know…every tourism board is convinced that their part of the country is the most beautiful in which to spend this season, but to this Greenville Girl, nothing beats Fall’s approach in the Upstate of SC.

From mid-August through September, depending how far below the Mason-Dixon line you are,  this favorite season starts to make itself apparent. The humidity finally dips to breathable levels, the mornings are noticeably cooler and even the air starts to smell like…well, FALL (which I think smells like apples).  Other than the occasional torrential rainstorm that chooses to rear its ugly head, the weather is bordering on near perfection.

People from other parts of the country may wonder why Fall is such an event in the nine states that make up the American South. Because to Southerners, Autumn is the reward for surviving an Endless Summer – which in Dixie, is not nearly as idyllic as The Beach Boys made it sound. You see, here in the South, Spring does not last 3 months like it does in the rest of the country, it lasts 3 weeks. Temps go from enjoyable to resembling Hell’s Sauna in a heartbeat. And they stay that way for four long months! Want to know why Southerners walk and talk so slow? Because to do anything fast during this time in the South will most certainly end in heat stroke.

So, what makes this current time of the year so magical in Downtown Greenville? Because the cooler mornings and lower humidity gives us hope that, although it’s still officially Summer, Autumn is reaching out with the promise of crisp temps, glorious colors & many of the things that make living here great! For Downtownies, that alone is reason for celebration! And celebrate we do – with Moonlight Movies in September, Fall for Greenville in October and all the many Fall Festivals that pop up around the area. For sports fans like me, Fall means that most “sacred” of Southern traditions…FOOTBALL! Downtown becomes a palette of orange, garnet and purple, with sports bars coming alive with fans cheering on their favorite teams and gathering after to enjoy a post-game meal at an outdoor cafe, while reliving the action with fellow fans.

So, make a little time to visit Downtown during this wonderful time of year, when Summer is making its departure and Autumn is planning its arrival. Enjoy an outdoor concert as Downtown Alive, Main Street Fridays and Rhythm on the River wind up their seasons. Stop into one of the amazing restaurants and sample some of their savory Fall delicacies such as hot apple pie or pumpkin cheesecake. Visit the Saturday Market to check out their fresh Fall produce – like butternut and acorn squash, pumpkins and apples – and have a cup of hot apple cider while you’re there.  Visit the unique shops to see beautiful hand-knit items, most created by local artisans. The weeks leading up to the official start of Fall are truly a magical time of year in Downtown Greenville…and a time you really shouldn’t miss!



Growing up in Georgia, my best friend and I would anxiously count down the days leading up to the 4th of July. Then, when the big day was less than 24 hours away, my older brother would load us up in his tiny MG (it’s a good thing we were also tiny) and cross the Savannah River over into South Carolina to purchase fireworks. It was against the law to actually sell fireworks in Georgia, but for some reason, it was okay to purchase the mini-explosives elsewhere and bring them into the state. Then, as darkness fell over our suburban cul-de-sac, my brother and father would shoot off bottle rockets, firecrackers and Roman candles, much to the delight of the neighborhood kids, who gathered to watch at a safe distance. As a child, I didn’t think the 4th of July could get any better…but, boy, was I wrong!

One would think that Greenville, with a history rich in Revolutionary War stories, would have a blast of a 4th, and our Red, White & Blue Festival strives to do just that!  Showcasing one of the state’s largest fireworks displays, which, I hate to admit, is so much better than the one my family produced, this free event is a favorite with young and not-so-young alike. From 5PM until 10:30PM, Downtown Greenville will be a celebration of our freedoms with live entertainment, great food and children’s events, encompassing Main Street from Court to Camperdown. Kicking off the live music will be Nashville recording artists Outshyne at 5:30PM, followed at 7:30PM by The Army Ground Forces Band’s Jazz Guardians.  And what would the 4th be without fireworks?  To really pay tribute to the birth of our nation, Downtown’s fireworks display will be synchronized to patriotic music, starting at 9:45PM. For more information about the festivities, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov.

Now for many people, the 4th is not the 4th without some baseball, a picnic and a parade. If you want to save the Red, White & Blue festival for later (or just want to swing by long enough to catch the fireworks), start your Independence Day with the Freedom Celebration and Picnic at the Vietnam Memorial at Cleveland Park. From 11AM until 3PM, join your fellow Greenvillians to celebrate our freedoms and to thank those who kept them for us. For details on this event, call 242-4110. After your picnic, and perhaps a stroll Downtown, join the residents of the North Main area for their annual Earle Street 4th of July Parade. Starting at 7PM from Earle Street to Main, this small neighborhood parade celebrates our independence in an event so All-American, it almost looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. For more information, call 232-5332. Or, if you want to celebrate America by catching a bit of America’s Game, head to Fluor Field at 7PM to cheer on the Greenville Drive (plus, it’s a primo location to catch the Downtown Fireworks display). For ticket information, visit http://www.milb.com.

The fun doesn’t stop there! Get the kids excited about our Independence Day celebrations by stopping at The Children’s Museum first for a little Red, White & Blue Art (at 1PM).  Looking for something to entertain the grown-ups after the fireworks? Then treat yourself to some Red, White & Blues at Smiley’s Acoustic Café with Freddie Wooten & Friends or Smoke on the Water with Jellyroll Antenna. With all these ways to celebrate our independence, I think even George Washington would be impressed! Happy 4th of July!

For a list of these and more 4th of July Events in and around Downtown Greenville, check out http://www.facebook.com/DowntownGreenvilleSC/notes#!/notes/downtown-greenville-sc/fourth-of-july-celebrations-in-downtown-greenville-beyond/380510058670266



You usually wouldn’t think of cool jazz, hot food and a rare cancer in the same thought, but you will after attending Brown Street Alive! On Saturday, June 23rd, historic Brown Street will become one big jazzy, jammin’ block party with food, fun and more as traffic is blocked off and music lovers are encouraged to dance in the streets. Sponsored by the Sarcoma Warriors of the Upstate, this family-friendly event is guaranteed to raise funds, awareness, as well as spirits, to fight this debilitating disease.

Not many people have heard of this rare, aggressive form of cancer that attacks the muscle, fat, cartilage, arteries and nerves – all the things that “hold” our bodies together. Because it is so incredibly rare (only .01% of the population will ever be diagnosed with it), there are few support systems for patients and their families and very little research done on its cause. Because it is so rare, most cases are diagnosed in later stages, making treatment difficult and very costly. Because this cancer is so rare, there are no pink ribbons (and a huge cause marketing campaign), there’s no race for its cure and yogurt companies do not make donations based on the number of lids sent in by customers. There are only these fearless Sarcoma Warriors, at “the ready” to do all they can to help those dealing with this dreadful disease.  Thinking of themselves as “Hired Henchmen”, this amazing organization works tirelessly to support patients and their families in fighting the “good fight” – by offering not only financial assistance, but emotional support, medical information and a voice in issues that affect those stricken.

Fast forward to this weekend and Brown Street Alive.  Featuring food, drink, games, prizes, silent auction and a vintage car and motorcycle show, this event is a crowd pleaser for all ages. But it’s the caliber of music that will make you glad you ventured off Main Street to follow the sweet sounds of jazz. Most of the bands taking part in this special event are familiar to regulars to the Brown Street Club. From some grumpy old jazz men to a teen-aged phenom whose guitar licks are incendiary – you will hear jazz that ranges from old school to rockin’ blues. Beginning at 4PM, three bands, Grumpy Old Jazz Men, The Marcus King Band (with Brendan Williamson) and Java, will be performing outdoors in a concert that is very family-friendly. Later on, starting at 6:30, The Adam Knight Trio and Shane Pruitt will be performing inside the more adult-oriented Brown Street Club.

So be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, June 23rd and make your way to Brown Street for some cool tunes and hot times. The music is free, the food and games are very affordable and the cause is priceless. Fighting cancer never sounded so good!

More Info on the Bands Performing at Brown Street Alive…

Grumpy Old Jazz Men: Seen regularly tearing up the stage with their old school style, this group of jazz masters will make you feel anything but grumpy. They will be performing on the outdoor stage from 4PM to 6PM

The Marcus King Band (with Brendan Williamson): A favorite at several Downtown venues, including The Handlebar, Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe and Chicora Alley, this rockin’ blues band, fronted by teen guitar prodigy, Marcus King, is a must-see (they will also be performing at Main Street Friday on August 24th). Performing with guest musician (and another familiar face on the Downtown music scene), Brendan Williamson, this band will be taking the stage (outdoors) at 6PM, and burning it up until 8PM. For more info on this amazing band, visit http://www.reverbnation.com/marcuskingband

Java: Another regular of the Brown Street Club, this entertaining band is as heart-thumping as the caffeinated beverage from which they grabbed their name.  Be sure to check out their next Brown Street performance on July 21st. Going onstage at 8PM the guys will be closing out the event with their crowd pleasing, eclectic playlist until 10PM.

Adam Knight Trio: Often seen at High Cotton as well as the Brown Street Club, this talented trio will soothe your soul with their signature cool contemporary jazz. Kicking things off inside the Brown Street Club at 6:30PM, this threesome will provide delectable dinner music until 9:30PM. If you get the chance, try to catch them at their next Brown Street Club gig on July 24th. For more info regarding this band and their music, visit www.adamknightmusic.com

Shane Pruitt Band: Another group you’ve seen around Downtown at places like The Handlebar and Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe is the Shane Pruitt Band. With rockin’ tunes that will set your booty to shakin’, the guys will be closing things out in the Brown Street Club starting at 9:30PM. Catch them now, because they won’t be back at Brown Street until September 8th. For more info on this bodacious band of fellows, visit http://shanepruittband.com

To learn more about this event, Sarcoma Warriors or the Brown Street Club, visit http://sarcomawarriors.org or http://brownstreetclub.com

 



So, did the delectable food at Greenville’s Greek Festival last weekend leave you yearning for more?  Found yourself with an overwhelming urge for souvlaki, dolmades and baklava? Don’t despair, Downtown Greenville has a variety of restaurants serving Greek, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine to satisfy your every craving!

For more than 40 years, Never on Sunday has been a little piece of Athens (that’s Greece, not Georgia) in Downtown Greenville. The atmosphere is cozy and eclectic, rather like visiting Grandma’s house  –  if Grandma grew up near the Aegean.  A true “Mom & Pop”,  proprietors  Nick and Iris  make it their mission to give you a good home-cooked meal (Nick cooks, Iris serves it up with an indulgent smile). Regulars say the dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) are a must have…as well as their Greek salads with Nick’s delicious homemade dressing. Don’t leave without sampling their legendary Baklava – best eaten with your fingers to get every savory morsel. Make sure you request a jug of wine for that true Greek dining experience. Located at 210 East Coffee Street, Nick and Iris serve up lunch and dinner every day except…you guessed it…Sunday (& Monday). Prices are very affordable and although reservations are not required, weekends can get a little busy at dinner, so you may want to call ahead.

Greek marries Italian at Milano Kozani, a charming restaurant with plenty of Mediterranean romance.  Located at 12 South Main Street, this restaurant and its Italian trained chef, strive to bring diners the best in Italian cuisine from the region of Emilia Romagna. Try the Pollo Isabelle- grilled chicken breast  topped with fried goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and a white wine lemon cream sauce to die for…all served over olive oil sautéed spinach. Or, if you love Lasagna, try theirs either with meat or vegetarian, one of the House favorites. Can’t decide what to have? Then order their Greek or Italian Sampler Platter for a little bit of everything!  Add to this a supreme wine list that will make you think it was designed by the god of wine himself, and you have a meal that will have you feeling like you’ve gone to Mount Olympus! If you find yourself Downtown at lunchtime, then stop by for their Lunch Buffet, served Monday-Friday 11AM-2PM. At less than $10, you’ll be glad you did!

Speaking of Italian, Ristorante Bergamo brings a bit of Northern Italy to the heart of Greenville. A culinary cornerstone of Downtown for over 25 years, this destination of Italian foodies is named for Greenville’s sister city, Bergamo, Italy. Chef/owner and native Bergamasco, Nello Gioia has made his mark on our local restaurant scene with a menu that is a culinary work of art. A believer in the Slow Food method, this creative chef uses fresh, sustainable ingredients such as organic herbs grown in his own garden, Tuscan olive oil, heirloom vegetables grown regionally, Carnoli Rice  (the signature of his risotto dishes),  and polenta – the yellow corn meal staple often found in Bergamasca cooking.  Located in a primo spot at 100 North Main Street, Ristorante Bergamo offers fine dining in an intimate atmosphere, with lovely views of Downtown. Dinner is served Tuesday – Saturday and since the restaurant only seats 80 guests, reservations are strongly recommended.

Another Mediterranean restaurant with incredible views, but a more casual atmosphere is The Lazy Goat. This RiverPlace establishment offers an array of delectable dishes from Greece and Italy, with a culinary nod to the succulent flavors of Spain, Morocco and the Middle East.  While enjoying gorgeous views of the Reedy River from the dining room or the outdoor patio, diners can feast on such “made from scratch” delicacies as Pumpkin Tagliatelle – a crispy pancetta, served with braised greens, pine nut & sage brown butter, Braised Moroccan Lamb Shank – served with warm pita, cucumber yogurt and plantain chips, or Fried Goat Cheese sprinkled with pistachio dust and drizzled with honey (my personal favorite).  The bar selection’s not too shabby either – try the refreshing Easy Breeze Martini (Absolute Ruby Red Vodka, Cranberry Juice and Fresh Lime) or the decadent Godiva Truffletini (Godiva Dark Chocolate and Godiva White Chocolate Liquor, Stoli Vodka, in a Chocolate laced glass with a splash of milk). You may just decide to spend your Saturdays there, sipping drinks on the patio with friends while listening to live music – for time that is truly “well wasted”.

For a meal that is a step above the ordinary, try Pomegranate On Main. This upscale West End restaurant with its exotic décor and Persian-inspired delicacies will have you expecting to see Lawrence of Arabia walk in at any moment! With delectable offerings of kabobs, stews and, of course, hummus, your taste buds will be dancing with elation all night! Try the Chicken Torsh Kabob – generous chunks of lean chicken breast, marinated in a zesty Pomegranate sauce that’s both sweet and sour, mixed with walnuts and served with basmati cranberry rice – YUM! Vegetarians will love the Kashk Bademjan – sautéed eggplant and onion, topped with Persian cream of whey, crispy fried onion and mint, or the Vegetarian Fesenjan – a savory stew with sautéed Portobello mushrooms slow cooked in a finely ground walnut and Pomegranate sauce, served with basmati rice. For the ultimate dining experience, have your meal outside under the pergola, while sipping wine and people watching from its South Main location.

It is the diversity of restaurants such as these that continue to make Downtown Greenville a major culinary destination. From the cozy, home-like setting of Never on Sunday to the fine dining of Ristorante Bergamo to the laid-back casualness of The Lazy Goat, there is never a lack of good times centered around food in our fair city. SALUTE!

More…

Never On Sunday: 210 Coffee Street; 864-232-2252; Hours: Lunch-11:30 AM-2 PM Tuesday-Friday; Dinner – 5-9 PM Tuesday-Saturday

Milano Kozani: 12 South Main Street; 864-263-3561; www.milanokazani.com; Hours: Food served from 11AM -10PM, 7 days a week

Ristorante Bergamo: 100 North Main Street; 864- 271-8667; www.ristorantebergamo.com; Hours: Dinner – 5:30pm – 9:30PM, Tuesday-Saturday

The Lazy Goat: 170 RiverPlace; 864- 679-5299; www.thelazygoat.typepad.com; Hours: Open for lunch at 11AM & dinner at 5:00, Monday – Saturday

Pomegranate On Main: 618 South Main Street; 864-241-3012; www. pomegranateonmain.com; Hours: Lunch – 11:30AM to 2:30PM; Dinner – 5:30PM UNTIL-Monday-Friday; . Saturday 11:30AM UNTIL.



et cetera