Go Explore: Old 96 District

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Revlolutionary War battle re-enacted|Elephant topiary at SC Festival of Flowers|Fried chicken salad from Village Grill

By Mike Dojc

This upper western swath of South Carolina is a bastion of outdoor adventure — six state parks all on a body of water, teeming with over 250 miles of trails to bike or hike. Beyond nature’s call, the beautiful backcountry also lures serious ceramics collectors, Revolutionary War buffs and civil rights history tourists.

History

Revolutionary War history comes alive at the Ninety-Six National Historic Site where two battles that claimed over 100 lives were fought. Time your visit around a reenactment or artillery demonstration. It’s only nine miles from here to the Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays house museum celebrating the civil rights icon who Martin Luther King, Jr. considered his “intellectual father.”  A tour of Mays’ childhood home provides insight into his life growing up in the Jim Crow South, becoming Morehouse College president (where he taught and inspired Dr. King) and his work as advisor to presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Carter.

Tours

The Winchester Museum at the National Wild Turkey Federation in Edgefield includes detailed dioramas of taxidermied subspecies, an exhibit on historic turkey calls and even an arcade-style shooting simulator. Spend an afternoon at Greenwood’s Emerald Farm, a magical wonderland of roaming peacocks, milking goats and an antique railroad ride that ports kids and adults through a “village” in the woods. Model railroad enthusiasts will enjoy the property’s train room, which features 26 scale miles of meticulously decorated miniature track. Fan of Southern stoneware? At Old Edgefield Pottery — a museum and working studio — master potter Justin Guy continues a 200-year tradition of creating one-of-a-kind alkaline-glazed jugs and vessels.

 

Elephant topiary at SC Festival of Flowers

Elephant topiary at SC Festival of Flowers

 

Festivals

Whimsical “living” topiary sculptures bloom on the streets of Greenwood for the South Carolina Festival of Flowers. Displays might include a giant green version of Lander University’s Bearcat mascot or a verdant King Kong pawing a biplane. Another fragrant festival (of the food variety) is Emerald City Fest. Competition barbecue crews with colorful team names like Pig-Chicka-Cow-Cow and Blue Suede Que square off during the city’s most mouthwatering annual event. The 2020 edition of the SC Festival of Discovery: BBQ & Blues cues up July 9-11, 2020. For more summer fun see fireworks where muskets once went boom!  The town of Ninety Six’s Festival of Stars takes place every year on the weekend before Independence Day.

 

Fried chicken salad from Village Grill

Fried chicken salad from Village Grill

 

Eats

Inn on the Square, a boutique 49-room hotel in the heart of Greenwood serves a Sunday brunch buffet from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at their Carriage House Restaurant. For a fork-tender steak or a hearty prime rib sandwich, head to the Village Grill in Abbeville. The Mill House in Greenwood is a prime spot for brick oven pizza and a beer from Good Times Brewing, their onsite brewery. Don’t leave the district without stopping at Cook’s Farm roadside stand in Edgefield to pick up a basket or two of tree ripe peaches and a Mason jar of their famous chow chow.

(Go Magazine May/June 2020)

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