If you’re planning a party, hosting a reception, organizing a meeting or doing anything else that involves bringing people together in a beautiful, conveniently-located space, there are two names that you need to know:
1. Swan Lake Visitors Center
2. Anita Blassingame
Since 2002, the Swan Lake Visitors Center has handled rentals for all City-owned facilities. At this time, we do scheduling and planning assistance for the following: Visitors Center Conference Room, Heath Pavilion, Garden Street Shelter and the Swan Lake Gazebo (all located at Swan Lake Iris Gardens), Memorial Park Gazebo, the Sumter Opera House and City Centre, the City of Sumter Aquatics Center and all three area HOPE Centers. With a variety of seating capacities, amenities and ambience, there are few occasions for which we can’t help you find the perfect venue.
Now, this is a pretty big job—there are a lot of things to juggle, seemingly innumerable details to keep track of, and of course, there’s the never-ending flow of people requesting bookings (something that makes us very happy!). But never fear—the person in charge is more than equal to the task.
We recently welcomed a new staff member, Groups & Facilities Coordinator Anita Blassingame. Absolutely bubbling with warmth and positive energy, Anita has quickly established herself as the “go to” person for all facility rental needs. A native of Seneca with family and church ties in Sumter, Anita moved here in 2008 to complete her degree in Organizational Management at Morris College, which she accomplished in 2010. Since then, she has also taken a Master of Arts in Religion from Liberty Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia.
It doesn’t take much time with Anita to see that she plainly enjoys her new job. “I love working at Swan Lake,” she says. “The physical atmosphere, the people I work with—they’re great.” As for what she enjoys about her position, she is equally enthusiastic. “Meeting people, helping them, the excitement of helping someone plan a wedding or a party, and the chance to put my organizational skills to work” are the highlights of her days. She also organizes group tours of the gardens for visitors to the area (please note: group tours must be scheduled two weeks in advance; call for more info).
When asked what brought her to Sumter, she pauses to reflect—and for the first time her trademark grin goes away for a moment; she looks thoughtful, considering. “I think it’s the family atmosphere—I’m a mom, so that’s important to me—the leisurely pace, and that it’s warm here. I love Sumter. I moved back here after living in numerous places—Atlanta, Charlotte, Greenville.” The smile returns as she says, “Mostly, I just love helping people any way I can.”
Along with the rest of the Tourism staff, Anita can be reached at the Swan Lake Visitors Center on weekdays, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you’ve been looking for a reasonably priced, attractive place to hold your next gathering, look no further! We can be reached at (803) 436-2640 or toll-free,
1-800-688-4748, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.