ROCK HILL — For 50 years, Rock Hill residents have celebrated spring with family and friends at the Come-See-Me festival, this year from April 11 through 20.
Known as the largest volunteer-run festival in the southeast, Come-See-Me attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year with music, sports, cultural and childrens events.
Its 10 days full of family fun and a great time to invite friends and family to see Rock Hill at our finest time, said Erika Bell, the 2013 festival chair. Come-See-Me offers something for all ages, beginning with the parade and ending with the tailgate and fireworks.
The festival has stayed true to its faithful schedule of perennial classics mixed with a few new activities that are timed to the peak flower blooms at Glencairn Garden. Over the years, Come-See-Me has expanded from a weekend event to 10 days, showcasing venues throughout Rock Hill.
To mark its 50th year, Come-See-Me will have a retro feel this year with garden hostesses, high school girls in fancy dresses, returning to Glencairn Garden and Coke floats being served at Gourmet Gardens. Over 51 years, the festival has only been canceled once, in 1973, for the construction of the roof over downtown Rock Hill.
The 2013 logo features festival mascot Glen the Frog, designed by the late Vernon Grant, the nationally acclaimed illustrator and Rock Hill resident.
The logo includes a 50th festival marker and the Grant-designed owl in a bowtie, Come-See-Mes first mascot in 1962. Glen wears a blue tuxedo with a red bowtie and dances jovially with a cane.
Come-See-Me was first held in 1962 as a community project to invite visitors, relatives and friends to see Rock Hill during its most beautiful season.
Grant, who created the Rice Krispies gnomes, Snap, Crackle and Pop, drew more than 30 different images of Glen the Frog for Come-See-Me. The images depict a happy, welcoming and usually, well-dressed frog.
For the April 11 kickoff parade, participants and spectators are asked to dress in fashion from the 1960s, 70s, 80s or 90s.
Bell raided her grandmothers closet and found a powder blue suit with a matching veiled hat, worn in the 1960s to a family wedding.
It fits! Its a miracle, said Bell, a Rock Hill native who has been helping organize Come-See-Me since 1996.
She has enjoyed seeing old festival photos and brainstorming on how to commemorate the anniversary.
It has been so much fun reminiscing, Bell said.
Trademark festival events include the Beach Bash, with a shag contest, and Chalk on Main on April 12. The 13th has the Fun Run and Road Race, the ever-competitive Mayors Frog Jump, where hopping is preferred mode of travel, Gourmet Gardens and Musical Mania.
At Gourmet Gardens, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Cherry Park, favorite dishes from local restaurants and vendors are sampled, and live music is enjoyed. This year, The Folsom Prison Gang opens, and The Flying Saucers close the event.
Sundaes with Glen and Mother Goose with delicious PWs ice cream is from 2 to 5 p.m. April 14 at Glencairn Garden, the original focus of Come-See-Me that is the site of numerous mid-day and evening live entertainment.
Two classic events are held at Winthrop the Teddy Bear Tea Party is from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 16 on the campus green and Moonlight Jazz and Blues is from 6 to 10 p.m. April 19 at Winthrop Lake.
The festival ends with a bang barbeque, tailgating, skydiving, fireworks and new this year, a cornhole tournament, at Winthrop Lake on April 20. This year marks the 6th annual performance of the Carolina Skydiving Team.
For Dr. Brian Colletto, a local eye doctor and Rock Hill native, it isnt spring without Come-See-Me.
As a child, he remembers watching the grand finale fireworks from his home near Winthrop Lake. As an adult, he enjoys the music events of Come-See-Me, including the Moonlight Jazz and Glencairn Garden live shows.
I see as many as I can, said Colletto, who plays the guitar.
Collettos practice sponsors Come-See-Me.
It is Rock Hills time to shine, he said. The city is beautiful, everything is blooming and its an opportunity for the city to showcase what it has to offer.