Greenwood’s 54th annual Festival of Flowers showcases restorative natural beauty as a cause for celebration, inspiration, and promise.
By Michael J. Solender
Though no record exists of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet ever visiting Greenwood, S.C., there’s no doubt he would have found great inspiration here especially during the community’s annual Festival of Flowers. Monet’s passionate floral declaration of, “I must have flowers, always, and always!” resonates loudly in Greenwood, home to the annual South Carolina Festival of Flowers – a floral extravaganza recognized throughout the region and beyond.
Greenwood is hosting the Festival for an incredible 54th consecutive year and is set to wow all comers beginning June 11 and running through June 13. This year’s fete, coming on the heels of a challenging Covid-filled year, is positioned to be even more special as the Festival’s beauty, bounty, and accessibility are sure to offer renewal and inspiration for visitors old and new alike.
“There is so much love in the community for the Festival,” says Barbara Ann Heegan, CEO, Greenwood Chamber of Commerce. “It’s our summer coming out party, and one that the community looks forward to all year long. The Festival is made even more special by the businesses and volunteers who support it. Close to 100 local community members, many who’ve lent their talent to the Festival for decades, are once again delivering with hard work and pride to ensure this year’s event is spectacular.”
This festival owes its beginnings and longevity to Greenwood-based Park Seed, one of the oldest and largest mail-order seed and plant companies in the United States. The company was started by then 15-year-old George W. Park. He had the inspiration for Park Seed Company ever since 1868. He sat at this kitchen table and came up with the idea of selling seeds from his garden to make money. The company was owned by the Park family for many years but is now under the aegis of JPPA, Inc.
Festival highlights include:
- Signature Topiary Displays – 42 one-of-a-kind topiaries, each tended to all year long by Greenwoodhorticulturist Clint Price and his team shine throughout Uptown Greenwood during the Festival and all month long. Look for the Clemson Tiger, the Lander Bearcat, a mystical mermaid, and giant elephant along with dozens of other carefully crafted topiaries, always the hands-down stars of the Festival of Flowers. (Click here to see the full map!)
- Annual Ladies Luncheon – Signature hats and floral prints are the height of fashion at this premier fete where the festive scene is amplified by the abundant flora and tempting culinary fare.
- 5K Walk and Run – Everyone’s off the couch for this fun walk and run where the sun is all but guaranteed to shine.
- Topiaries & Tastings Wine Walk – A Festival highlight year after year with wine, topiaries, friends, and shopping. Did we mention wine?
- Bee Buzzin’ Bike Tour – Go ahead, it’s OK to stop and smell the flowers on this fun ride around town.
- Home & Garden Show & Arts & Crafts Show – A dynamic duo for DIY’ers and those who simply wish to dream big about their next fun project.
- Kidfest ’21 – Held at Greenwood’s Uptown Market, there’s crafts, friendly butterflies, treats, and plenty of hands-on fun for the kids and the young at heart.
- Juried Youth Art Show – This year’s competition focus is on posters themed around the Festival of Flowers, and the community’s young creatives are sure to excel.
- Photography Contest – Shutterbugs strut their stuff with snaps, portraits, and nature in both color and black and white.
“We have three dedicated greenhouses for our topiaries alone,” says Price, Greenwood’s chief horticulturist. “We know how much everyone looks forward to enjoying them. What folks may not be aware of is how much TLC they get during the winter months where we refurbish them, create new designs, and get them ready for display. It’s hours and hours of effort, yet very satisfying when we see children especially, enjoying them during the Festival.”
Officials expect 45,000 to 50,000 visitors over the month of June with many visitors coming specifically for the Festival of Flowers weekend. Festivalgoers come from near and far with Greenwood accessible by car less than a three-hour drive from cities such as Atlanta, Augusta, Aiken, Anderson, Charlotte, Columbia, Greenville/Spartanburg, and others.
Though Covid is on the wane with vaccinations, mask-wearing, and distancing, Festival officials want visitors to know safety remains a top priority. “We’ll have sanitizer stations, masks available, and encourage distancing,” says Heegan. “We want people to enjoy the offerings safely.
This year’s Festival theme is, “Ready, set, go for a blooming good time,” and there’s no question the Festival of Flowers is set once again to deliver.
Want to go?
Greenwood, SC Festival of Flowers.
June 11-13 Uptown Greenwood, various locations.
Find more information: http://scfestivalofflowers.org/
Where to Stay?
Inn on the Square sits in the heart of Uptown Greenwood, making it walkable distance from most of the topiaries. Visit our website for details on other local hotels.
Charlotte, North Carolina’s Michael J. Solender has been captivated by great storytelling since his youth. He now writes about arts, travel, and curious people. His writing has been featured at Southern Living, Carolina Mountain Life, the Charlotte Observer, the Raleigh News & Observer, Lake Norman Magazine, and others. His personal essays explore the personalities, back stories, and character behind destinations. Learn more about Michael and follow him on Twitter @MJSolender. Read more from Michael about the Old 96 District with this Old Edgefield Pottery feature.