OLAR - The town of Olar will celebrate its ninth annual Model T's to Olar Festival on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14-15. This year's festival fun will run from 9 a.m. to midnight both days.
The festival will include food vendors and crafters, inflatables for the kids, pony rides, a cake walk, bingo, an auction, cloggers, line dancers, a parade, a haunted house, a Model T Car Show, a Model A Car Show, an Antique Tractor Show and the Olar Fire Department Car Show (open to all cars).
"The size of the festival has grown steadily since the first festival in 2003," said Brenna Hancock, festival chair. "It's great to see our sleepy little town come alive for the weekend when local people and people from all over the country come to enjoy our family-oriented event. This year, we are working in conjunction with the Olar Fire Department Car Show. This is will be the first year we have expanded the car show to include all vehicles."
Olar has a special connection with Ford Motor Co. because of Henry Ford's relationship with C.F. Rizer, an Olar native, in the early 1900s.
The Model T chugged into history on Oct. 1, 1908. Ford called it the "universal car." It became the symbol of low-cost, reliable transportation that could get through when other vehicles and horse-drawn wagons were stuck in muddy roads. The Model T won the approval of millions of Americans, who affectionately dubbed it "Tin Lizzie."
The first Model T cars sold for $825 for a two-door roadster, an unexpected bargain compared to other cars. But even more remarkable is that during its 19 years of production, Ford continued to steadily lower its price, thanks to manufacturing efficiencies including the moving assembly line introduced in 1913.
Rizer's business in the early 1900s included general merchandise and farm supplies. He added another building in 1912 that provided different departments for the goods he carried, and included a store for his buggies, wagons and harnesses.
When the automobile became a reality the next year, Rizer had the first and largest supply and sales of any dealer in South Carolina. His business required 15 clerks to handle the merchandise and auto trade. In July 1920, Rizer placed a full-page ad for "Rizer Auto Company of Olar," advertising his intention to discontinue activity in all other lines. He said the company would be concentrating on Ford sedans, Ford Campelets, Ford Touring Cars, Ford Runabouts and Ford trucks exclusively. In October of that same year, he began advertising and selling Fordson farm tractors.
In 1914, cotton sold for as little as 3-1/2 cents a pound. There was hardly a cotton market, and it was the main source of income. Henry Ford nevertheless wanted to expand his auto manufacturing.
Not having the capital to expand, he called Rizer asking if he had any money to spare. With full confidence in the automobile industry, he lent $25,000 to Ford. That year, Ford sold half a million cars, and the industry was on the way.
The same year, Rizer Auto Co., as it was known, received the largest single shipment of cars in Bamberg County. It took a train with one-half mile of box cars to bring the vehicles from Detroit to Olar. The train measured 2,880 feet long, not counting the engine and caboose, and included 64 box cars, each bearing four Ford automobiles. The 256 cars arrived in Olar in March, and the last one sold in November. These cars had to be assembled and put together for a contract price of $15 a car.
Rizer was able to outsell other dealers because he had sufficient capital to sell on credit. Ford awarded Rizer the exclusive franchise to sell Fords in Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Allendale counties. Rizer would put his salesmen on the road in the five-county area and the cars would sell quickly. It was not uncommon to sell as many as 10 cars a day.
Rizer passed away in 1950 at the age of 81 and is buried in Starr Cemetery in Olar. The Rizer Auto Co. of Olar housed the Olar Fire Department until the building was demolished in early 2011 and the new Olar Fire Station was built. The railroad corridor still runs through Olar.
For more information on the Model T's to Olar Festival, call Hancock at 803-368-8847 or email email@example.com. The festival is also on Facebook.