South Carolina Humanities Festival Heads to Sumter

Strap yourself in, now—this is going to be a long read!  But when a long-established statewide event comes to Sumter, there’s no way to compress it into any sort of quick bite.  Stick with me, and I hope you’ll agree it’s worth it.

“Humanities” is a big word, not so much in the number of syllables, but in what it encompasses—history, literature, language, philosophy, religion and other disciplines that help people understand who we are and how we relate to each other.  And “BIG” is the word for what’s happening in Sumter beginning on October 1.  From October 1-9, 2011, we will be the host site for the SC Humanities Festival, now in its 18th year.  The festival moves from city to city each year, with the emphasis being on what makes each community unique.

Sumter, with its wealth of history and arts, will host a diverse array of events relating to all of the above this coming week.  Art for exhibit and sale, tours of local landmarks (including the “Porches” event featured in the September 20th installment of this blog), military exhibits and a tour of Shaw Air Force Base, literary readings, panel discussions, musical performances and a talent show will involve nearly every aspect of the Sumter community, from the historic Highway 261 corridor to the stage at Patriot Hall, where some of Sumter’s brightest young stars will get their groove on in a community talent show.  The organizations involved also represent a veritable feast of intellectual flavors, with participants and venues including:

  • Central Carolina Technical College
  • Downtown Sumter
  • Milford Plantation
  • Morris College
  • Patriot Hall
  • Santee-Wateree RTA
  • Shaw Air Force Base
  • Sumter Chamber of Commerce
  • Sumter County Gallery of Art
  • Sumter County Library
  • Sumter County Museum
  • Sumter Opera House
  • Swan Lake Iris Gardens
  • The Arthenia Bates Millican Foundation
  • The Item newspaper
  • USC Sumter
  • Various area churches, including Salem Black River Presbyterian, First Presbyterian, St. Anne Catholic Church, Trinity United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter.

Sponsored by the SC Humanities Council and hosted by the Sumter County Cultural Commission, the Humanities Festival is bound to feature something for everyone.  If you don’t think you’re interested in “all that highbrow” or “egghead” stuff, you are in for a welcome surprise as the Sumter community opens up to show the state who we are, where we came from and where we are heading.

Think about it.  Some of the earliest expressions we have of who man was before written history are the cave paintings at Lascaux and Altamira.  The Rosetta Stone unlocked our understanding of hieroglyphics that showed what mattered to people of the pre-Christian era.  In our own century, the Civil Rights movement and medical issues are of interest to people of all ages.  Baroque music is still listened to regularly, even by fans of Lady Gaga.  And a hundred years from now, people will be analyzing the structure, form and popularity of the most prevalent poetry in our society today—rap music.

For more information, please see the festival website here.  Most events are free and open to the public.  Locally, call Patriot Hall at (803) 436-2260. 

The humanities are who we are.  With so much to see and do, get out and help us celebrate ourselves!

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