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‘Everyone is just in a festive mood’: Orangeburg kicks off Rose Festival

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Orangeburg’s Festival of Roses has returned.

Vendors spent Friday setting up their displays and preparing for crowds itching to enjoy the outdoors and fellowship after two years of coronavirus quarantines and isolation.

Lorrie Camp, of Rowesville-based Lorrie's Hand Made Creations, says she looks forward to the event and has missed attending.

“I enjoy it,” Camp said. “This calms me down.”

Camp sells homemade jewelry including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, jewelry, hair accessories, anklets, purses, potholders and keychains. Kids can also make their own keychains.

“Depending on how hard it is or more detailed it is, I can usually do them within an hour or less,” Camp said. “Some of them take a little bit of longer.”

Theo Royal and his brother, Kenmore, traveled from Columbia to attend their first Festival of Roses. The brothers have Royalty Jerk Hut, which specializes in authentic Caribbean and Jamaican foods.

“We cook from scratch,” Theo said. “We have probably the best Caribbean food here. They have to check it out.”

They came to Orangeburg, “to see a different aspect and try a different event to see what it was like for the first time," Theo said.

Dagmar Kinney and Art Irick of Hardscapes Pavers Plus LLC on Neeses Highway are making their first appearance at the festival.

Their statues range from religious, to animals, bird baths and planters. The business also creates larger statuary such as a five-foot tall angel and a crucifix.

Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President James McQuilla said he expects the festival to be one of the busiest in recent years.

“The big thing for us is fun, family, flowers and, of course, on Sunday we are hoping we will be able to have the big faith event,” McQuilla said. “The key is we are bringing everybody back together because we have all been separated the last couple of years.”

The festival will run through Sunday.

This year's festival would have been the 51st, but technically it is the 49th festival as both the 2020 and 2021 festivals were canceled due to COVID.

Next year, festival organizers expect to bring back the three-day event.

The festival will begin at the entrance to the gardens by the Lady Fountain and wrap around Centennial Park from Riverside Drive and Seaboard Street.

Food, arts and crafts, retail and non-profit vendors will line Riverside Drive. Vendors will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m.

Entertainment and activities for senior citizens, including bingo, will take place Saturday on the Garden Stage beginning at 2 p.m.

A kids’ area featuring a human water wheel, human catapult, mega slide and bounce houses will be available.

A variety of food will be offered, from turkey legs and corn dogs to ice cream and Italian ice.

Local dance groups, vocalists, praise teams, church choirs and gospel bands will present much of this year’s entertainment.

A communitywide church service will be held in Centennial Park on Sunday. The community is asked to bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. The service will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Charlie Pace of the Orangeburg Lions Club has been coming to the festival for over a decade. The club raises money for individuals who cannot afford eye glasses, eye exams and hearing aids. The club also helps to fund cataract surgeries.

The club sells hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, funnel cakes and french fries.

"It is a good time," Pace said. "Everyone is just in a festive mood. All the vendors are talking. We need to support them so they come back next year.

“The roses are great. They are beautiful. I love having it and going down here seeing the roses and the beautiful gardens Orangeburg has."

The Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association held a street dance on Friday at the Downtown Pavilion on Russell Street. Terence Young's Finesse Party band provided entertainment.

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