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!

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(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!



This past Friday evening, hundreds of people of all ages, races, religions and socio-economic standing came together to honor the memory of one man…Dr. Martin Luther King. Falls Park in Downtown Greenville was awash with goodwill and unity as participants celebrated Dr. King’s legacy as part of the “MLK Dream Weekend”.  Made up of business and civic leaders committed to Dr. King’s cause, this grassroots organization encourages others to “live his dream”. This Thursday, January 17, the Hyatt Regency will host the 8th Annual MLK Diversity Banquet and Celebration, with keynote speaker, Nikki Giovanni.  Ms. Giovanni, a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, has brought attention to the Civil Rights of others for more than three decades through her outspokenness in writing and lectures. The event begins at 7PM and although tables are currently sold out, there are some individual tickets available at $60 each. For more information and ticket availability, please call 864-990-1060.

Upstate residents are also encouraged to spread Dr. King’s message through a “MLK Day of Community Service”. In conjunction with Hands on Greenville, organizers have coordinated a variety of volunteer opportunities – from beautifying lower-income neighborhoods to delivering Meals on Wheels for the elderly and homebound. The majority of these volunteer events will take place Saturday, January 19, from 9AM until noon. Families, friends and community groups can sign up to volunteer together.  For more information,  www.handsongreenville.org.

The celebration will conclude Monday, January 21 with “Dreams in Action” at Greenville High School. This event, whose mission is to spread Dr. King’s message of positive change, will begin at 8AM with a light breakfast which will be followed by the production of “One Voice” with JDew. An exceptional narrative highlighting orations from some of America’s most influential black leaders, “One Voice” is a fascinating journey through the black American experience, by virtue of eight powerful and influential voices spanning from the 1820s to present day including: Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Bill Cosby, and Barack Obama. For more information on this and other MLK Dream Weekend events, visit www.mlkdreamweekend.com.

The Peace Center will also be paying homage to Dr. King and his dream with their production of “I Have a Dream”.  Part of the center’s nationally recognized arts initiative, Peace Outreach Programs (for students grades 3-12), this compelling dramatization of the life and times of one of the most influential and charismatic leaders of the Civil Rights movement is certain to inspire young minds as they experience this great leader’s struggle and his dream of lifting “our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood”. Tickets are $9 with 10AM and noon show times on both January 23 and 24. For more information, visit www.peacecenter.org.

A must-see for locals and visitors alike is the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center, located at 700 Arlington Avenue. Founded in 1987 by Ruth Ann Butler, a former history teacher and participant in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement, this African American history museum and cultural center is dedicated to the preservation of Greenville’s rich multi-cultural diversity, contributions and accomplishments. The Center provides a haven of historical reflection, research and education through exhibits, archives and guided tours. The Resource Center contains biographical sketches, news articles, tape recordings, photographs, and letters of prominent African-Americans, available to visiting scholars, students, and the general public.

A trip Downtown on MLK Day would not be complete without a visit to the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Downtown Greenville. This seemingly ordinary street corner, which is currently the site of building projects, played a remarkable and very important role in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement. This was once the home of the Woolworth’s building and was the site of “sit-ins” and student protests against segregation in the 1960’s.  Many of the students involved, including Greenville native, Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, attended Sterling High School. A memorial to these courageous students now stands on the site. The life-size statue by artist Maria Kirby Smith depicts two African American students (a young man and a young woman), walking down the steps from Sterling High. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

To learn more about Greenville’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and the rich history of her African-American community, here are more places you may want to visit:

Site of The Working Benevolent Temple: Located at the corner of Broad and Falls Streets, this unassuming building was once the home of the Working Benevolent Temple. Constructed in 1922, this 3-story, brick building played a vital role in the development of Greenville’s African American business district for over 50 years by providing office space to many of the community’s professionals. It was designed, built and financed by the Working Benevolent Grand State Lodge of South Carolina, a health, welfare and burial benefit society.

John Wesley United Methodist Church: Located next to the site of the Working Benevolent Temple, on Falls Street.  Organized in 1866 by Rev. James Rosewood, a former slave, this church was one of South Carolina’s first independent African American congregations after the Civil War. The current church was built between the years of 1899 and 1903 and is an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style. John Wesley Methodist has long been the epicenter of Greenville’s religious community and, along with the Working Benevolent Temple, is on the National Register of Historic Places

Richland Cemetery: Located on Stone Avenue, near North Main. In stark contrast to the elegant opulence of nearby Springwood Cemetery, this small area is the simple yet dignified final resting place of some of Greenville’s most prominent African American citizens. Many of the graves contain no markers or homemade gravestones, while others are marked by stones proudly proclaiming the person’s accomplishments and status in the community.  This quiet, peaceful site is a reflective conclusion to your historical tour.



I just love the old classic movies…the good ones, the bad ones and the ones that are so bad, they’re good! And I really love getting to see them in new and different ways. This month, Downtown Greenville gives you two options of experiencing time-honored classics – both of the traditional & cult classic varieties – that will be tons of fun for you and your fellow cinema addicts.

 

One of my favorite events to take place in Downtown Greenville is Moonlight Movies. Every May & September, classic old movies, starring legends of old Hollywood, are shown on an outdoor screen for your viewing pleasure.  This family friendly, free movie event takes place every Wednesday evening around 8-ish.  Due to construction at the Peace Center, the location for Moonlight Movies has been moved to Falls Park. Movie lovers will have the chance to experience such classics as “High Noon”, starring Gary Cooper (on September 5th), “12 Angry Men”, starring Henry Fonda (September 12th) and “An American in Paris”, starring Gene Kelly (September 19th). Classic cinema aficionados will  even have the opportunity to choose what movie will be shown as the finale of this event. For the September 26th screening, viewers can choose between “Roman Holiday” (starring Audrey Hepburn),  “On the Waterfront” (starring Marlon Brando) or  “To Catch a Thief” (starring Cary Crant & Grace Kelly).  Lawn chairs, blankets and picnics are welcome at this event, but please leave your pets at home.  Drinks (of both the alcoholic & non-alcoholic variety) will be available for sale, but individuals consuming alcohol at the event will need to purchase a $1 wristband. Like all City of Greenville events, Moonlight Movies is smoke-free. For more information, a movie schedule or to vote for your Viewers’ Choice, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov/PublicInfo_Events/MoonlightMovies.

 

If you prefer your classics to be more of the “cult” variety, then has the Warehouse Theatre got a show for you! Back by popular demand, that campy fave, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is returning  September 7th in all its theatrical glory to the stage at the Warehouse Theatre.  Starring Will Ragland as Frankenfurter, this year’s production promises to be even bigger, better & bawdier!  Performances are 8PM on September 7 – 8, 13-15, 20-22 & 27-29th, with special midnight performances taking place on Saturdays (the 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th). Tickets are $40 and are selling fast (the last time “Rocky Horror” was performed, shows sold out in record time).  For those wanting a “behind the scenes” glimpse of this popular production, the theatre will hold a WHT Forum on Wednesday, September 5th at 6PM. For more information on this and other Warehouse Theatre productions, visit http://www.warehousetheatre.com.

 

So, there you have it movies lovers…Downtown gives you the chance to be in a gunfight at high noon, get angry with Juror #8, dance in Paris or even do the Time Warp! Hey, it’s just a jump to the left…



et cetera