Sassafras Festival kicks off today: continues through weekend
Those looking for a fun-filled weekend might want to pop by Sassafras Park in Burnettown this weekend for the annual Horsecreek/Midland Valley Sassafras Festival.
Starting today and lasting through Saturday, the town will have a carnival, contests, shows and vendors for everyone to enjoy, said Michelle Pardue, the town’s administrative assistant.
Today will feature karaoke in the park from 5 to 9 p.m., and Michael Jackson tribute artist Joey Fulghum will appear on stage behind the town hall at 7 p.m.
Jackie Anderson from The 3 J’s Entertainment, the entertainment company that’s worked with the festival for the last five years, saw Fulghum perform locally and asked him to perform at Sassafras last year.
“I think he kind of shocked me and everyone last year,” Anderson said. “He really does the moves and kind of does look just like him.”
On Friday from 6 to 9:45 p.m., festival goers can let their singing talents shine by participating in the Sassafras Idol Contest. They can register from 5 to 9 p.m. and pay $3 per song or $5 for two songs.
Participants can pick as many songs as they wish. Six semi-finalists will be picked and compete in the final round on Saturday at 6 p.m. The winner will receive $100 and a Sassafras Festival T-shirt; the second place winner will receive $50. Both winners will perform.
The Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department will show “Ice Age: Continental Drift” outside on the lot across from the town hall on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
A parade will be one of the main kick-off events for the final, busiest day. Starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, follow the parade from LBC Middle School in Warrenville to Security Federal Bank in Langley. The Sassafras Pageant winners from the Sept. 22 pageant will be part of the parade and will be announced at 11:45 a.m.
Crafts such as jewelry and quilts and food such as barbecue and boiled peanuts will be sold, and Southern Thunder Cloggers and the Midland Valley High School Choir will be on the main stage throughout the day.
On the stage behind town hall, a children’s entertainment area will be set up, where activities such as face-painting will be available from 1 to 3 p.m.
At 7 p.m., for the street dance portion of the festival, the Aiken band Anybody’s Guess will perform a wide range of cover songs.
Ben Newman, who plays the guitar, mandolin, harmonica and sings with the band, feels the festival is a well-organized, old-fashioned, family event.
“They have a good crowd,” he said. “They close off Highway 421. People are dancing to our music on (the highway), which is pretty neat.”
Contests also will run Saturday. The Car and Truck Show will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To enter, applicants can pay $15 by 5 p.m. on Friday or $20 by noon Saturday. Each winner, selected among 21 categories, will win a plaque and trophy.
For the Cake and Pie Contest, submitters must turn in their baked goods by 1 p.m. to the hospitality tent in front of town hall. The winner for best cake and for best pie will each receive $50. Winners for both contests will be announced at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Kicks 99 will have 40 Guitar Pull concert tickets to give away from 5 to 7 p.m. The concert this year will feature Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Billy Currington, Brantley Gilbert, Lee Brice and Lauren Alaina and will be held on Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the James Brown Arena in Augusta.
Admission to the festival is free. Alcohol, golf carts are pets will not are allowed, with the exception of service pets.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary of being an incorporated town, the festival started out as a street dance event in 1991. It grew to an entertainment-filled day in 1993 to having 5,000 people attending in 1995, according to The Midland Valley Area website.
It expanded to a three-day event in 1997, added its no-alcohol policy in 2003 and then its no-pet rule in 2004.
“I think it’s really good,” Anderson said. “Kids enjoy the festival; adults enjoy the music. Every year it’s a little bigger, a little better.”