As I look out my office window on Monday afternoon, it’s 77 degrees and raining—after having already rained all weekend. But although it might be inconvenient for people, Swan Lake’s famous Japanese iris gardens are loving it! Iris ensata thrive in damp, acid soil, so today’s messy weather is actually just what they need to be at their absolute best for the Sumter Iris Festival.
The celebration kicks off on Thursday, May 23, with the Opening Ceremony/Crowning of the King & Queen at the Heath Pavilion beginning at 5:15, followed by the Taste at the Gardens featuring Sumter’s own Chief Complaint (admission fee required). From Friday, May 24, to Sunday, May 26, 2013, Swan Lake Iris Gardens will be home to tens of thousands of people enjoying arts and crafts, music, food, flowers, and family fun. With the return of annual favorites such as the “Just Kidding Around” childrens’ area, Art in the Gardens, Kids Connection, Shrine Day Parade, live entertainment throughout the weekend and more, we’ve spent months preparing for the one of the biggest festivals in recent memory. And as always, admission to the festival is FREE.
Aside from the usual colorful festivities, this year’s festival features the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. At 3/5 scale, it’s as long as a football field and the largest of the various traveling walls outside of the Mall in Washington, D.C. Students will come to learn its history; veterans and family members will have a chance to pause, reflect, remember…and heal.
In addition, the Festival brings the S.C. Quilts of Valor to the Visitors Center, along with local historian Sammy Way’s Vietnam War exhibition.
The festival schedule will be as follows (please pay attention, because some of our menu items have changed!):
Iris Festival Ongoing Events
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday & Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Art in the Gardens (until 6 p.m.)
Gateway to Gardening (until 6 p.m.)
Arts & Crafts/Food Court/Marketplace/“Just Kidding Around” Children’s Area (until 7 p.m.)
Children’s Art in the Park (Friday 12-5 p.m., Saturday/Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
“Quilts of Valor” Display (Saturday until 7 p.m.; Sunday until 5 p.m.)
Military Veteran’s Display presented by Sammy Way (Saturday until 7 p.m.; Sunday until 5 p.m.)
Head Turnerz Classic Car Show (Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Sumter Cruisers Show & Shine (Sunday 10 p.m.-5 p.m.)
Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall (until 7 p.m.; Dedication Ceremony on Friday at 5:30 p.m.) The Wall is also open on Monday, May 27.
For a complete schedule of events, please click here.
Check back for frequent updates and additions this week, visit the Iris Festival or Sumter Tourism websites, or call us at (803) 436-2640. For the latest developments as they happen, check us out on Facebook.
In case you’re wondering or just haven’t had time to check, as of today, chances of precipation this weekend are fairly low, and temperatures forecast to be in the mid-eighties will be absolutely perfect for a day trip to the crowning jewel of the Sumter community.
See you at the festival!
by Colette Daniels