PICKENS — For someone looking for good food, hearty music, unique crafts and one-of-a-kind pieces of art, this year’s Azalea Festival was the place to be.
Thousands of people from all across the Upstate turned up in historic downtown Pickens to take part in the annual celebration — and whether you just strolled the vendors’ tents or paid a buck for a chance to drop one of Pickens Police’s finest in the dunking booth, there was something for everyone.
Bart Harris wowed onlookers with his pottery wheel, a practice known as “throwing clay.”
“I’m just messing around, this clay can’t be fired again,” said Harris. “All this in here is scraps and trimmings from other pieces. Rather than pitch it, I’ll bring it out to festivals and stuff like this and get one more use out of it.”
Bart and his wife Lisa run Purple Unicorn Pottery out of Seneca.
“This (pottery) wheel isn’t balanced or anything. It’s my little one that I bring out to events like this. My big one — the one I really throw on — is huge. I can’t just load it up,” he said.
A bit farther down the vendor line, Cheryl McMahan was painting a bird on canvas.
“I started off just doing this (painting) for fun. It relaxes me,” she said. “Now I teach classes. Girls night out? It’s so much fun.”
Besides the live demonstrations from local artisans, the dunking booth put on by the Pickens Police Department was probably one of the more popular attractions as people lined up for a chance to drop an officer in the frigid water.
“I’ve already gotten dunked once today,” said one shivering officer. “And it was by this, like, 12-year-old girl. She lined up like a major league pitcher and I thought ‘Oh, no. I’m going in.’”
“You need a picture of him getting dunked?” laughed another officer in front of the tank as he lunged to push the dunking button.
“That’s cheating! You pay a dollar like everyone else!” the first officer yelled from the tank as he braced his arms so he wouldn’t fall back into the water.
One of the newer attractions this year was the mechanical bull, which was conquered in short order by several school-aged children who hung on one-handed as the bovine twisted and bucked beneath them.
This reporter saw six children in a row ride the beast without being slung down onto the padding.
Impressive. Very impressive indeed.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.