SC Pumpkintown Pumpkin Festival
One of the region’s beloved fall traditions returns this weekend. The SC Pumpkintown Pumpkin Festival, first started in 1978, is a small-town community event that offers attendees views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and vivid fall colors. Each year, the festival is held at the Oolenoy Community House, an old schoolhouse and local landmark constructed in 1918.
The festival includes more than 100 art and handmade craft booths, and food vendors will sell barbecue chicken and sandwiches and other country-themed fare. There will also be musical performances from country singer Randall Martin and bluegrass groups Rowdy Mountain Boys, The New Dixie Storm, Left Lane, and Last Road. This year’s musical offerings will also include a performance from SeraphSong, a women’s gospel choir.
In its initial years, the Pumpkintown Pumpkin Festival brought in 3,000 to 4,000 attendees and has since grown to hosting close to 35,000, says Buddy Cox, who was an original organizer of the festival in the ’70s.
“I think it’s just the atmosphere. We’re up in the foothills,” he says of the event’s popularity. “We’ve got a lot of wooded area where all the arts and craft people are and a creek that meanders. … With the smell of barbecue cooking and the music going, it’s just a down-home type of feel.”
A festival parade will begin at 9 a.m. at the Pumpkintown Fire Department and make its way down to the community house. “It’s just a down-home, folksy type of parade,” Cox says.
And as the festival’s name would indicate, pumpkins will also be for available for purchase. “There wouldn’t be a pumpkin festival without the pumpkins,” Cox says. —Emily Pietras
Where: Oolenoy Community House, 5301 Dacusville Highway, Pickens
When: Saturday, Oct. 14, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Temple of Israel’s Music on Sunday
Corde Cantanti is like a musical history lesson for the ears. The group, which kicks off the 18th annual Music on Sundays series at Temple of Israel on Sunday, focuses extensively on Baroque music and performs on a variety of historical and modern instruments, including the lute, guitar, cello, theorbo, and percussion. “This is a unique opportunity to hear music of the Baroque period performed by exceptional artists and on a variety of instruments typical of that period,” said Jack Cohan, a former Peace Center executive director who is on the concert series committee. The concert begins at 3 p.m., but an instrumental demonstration titled “Guitars Through the Ages” begins at 2:30 p.m. — Cindy Landrum
Where: Temple of Israel, 400 Spring Forest Road
When: Sunday, Oct. 15, instrumental demonstration at 2:30 p.m., concert at 3 p.m.
Info: 863-292-1782, templeofisrael.org
Wiley Cash Book Reading & Signing
The year is 1929, and six days a week 28-year-old Ella May Wiggins is working the night shift at American Mill No. 2 in Bessemer City, N.C. For her 72 hours of labor each week, Ella May makes only $9. It’s a difficult and dangerous job, but she doesn’t have much of a choice, as her husband, John, has left her to take care of their four children.
But there is some hope for Ella May and the workers who are being exploited daily. When whispers of unionizing surface, organizing becomes a promising opportunity to reclaim the dignity that has been stripped from Ella May and the other workers. But the mill owners, well aware that such an alliance would jeopardize their operation, warn their employees that unions are merely a cover for the corrupt Bolshevik ideology spreading across Europe. But on the night of a planned rally in the community, Ella May makes the decision to join the cause, and she pays dearly for it.
Inspired by true events, Wiley Cash’s “The Last Ballad” is a moving tribute to the men and women — including the real-life Ella May Wiggins — who risked their livelihood, and sometimes even their lives, to secure basic workers’ rights during the 20th century labor movement. Christina Baker Kline, author of “A Piece of the World” and “Orphan Train,” has praised Cash’s latest release as a novel that “reveals the dignity and humanity of people asking for a fair shot in an unfair world.” –Emily Pietras
Where: M. Judson Booksellers, 130 S. Main St.
When: Monday, Oct. 16, 6–7 p.m.