Fort Mill Times

SpringFest: New festival to be held in Elisha Park

FORT MILL -- The planning is almost done on the town's first annual official festival, SpringFest.

Unlike Fest-i-Fun of years past, SpringFest is a town-controlled event. It will run 10 a.m. -10 p.m., Saturday, May 3, at Walter Y. Elisha Park on North White Street. Fort Mill is billing it as a music and food festival.

Throughout the course of the day, eight bands, ranging from bluegrass to British rock, will take the main stage. Keystone Substance Abuse Services will also host the Fort Mill audition for its York County Idol contest. So far, no one has signed up for the Idol competition, but Keystone spokeswoman Elizabeth Roueche said as many as 15 spots are available for 14 to 25-year-olds. The winner at SpringFest will get one of 12 spots in the York County Idol finals at Coolfest on Saturday, May 17, at Manchester Village in Rock Hill.

A second stage at the park will play host to smaller acoustic sets and groups of high school, middle school and elementary school bands and singers, along with a magician and martial arts demonstration, according to Eva Pierce, who helped coordinate the day's entertainment.

"We had a great response," Pierce said. "There is a lot of local talent. We could have four stages for four days and have them filled the whole time."

Pierce is one of approximately 20 volunteers who have donated time to plan the festival. It is the first time she has been responsible for booking entertainment for such an event, but is already excited about doing it again next year.

"It's been a great opportunity to meet a lot of people I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet otherwise," Pierce said.

"About 95 percent of everything is set," Fort Mill Parks and Recreation Director Brown Simpson said.

Simpson has been leading the informal committee tasked with planning the festival. No official committee was created this year, and everyone serving is volunteering. It meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Town Hall and everyone is welcome to join.

In addition to the music, 10 to 12 food and beverage vendors will be on hand offering some perennial favorites such as the United Methodist Men's pork chop sandwiches. Fort Mill and Nation Ford high boosters will also have a both.

There won't be any carnival style rides for the kids this year, but the town is bringing in some inflatable bounce castles and other kids activities on the town owned multipurpose field on the hill above the park, Town Manager David Hudspeth said. Another highlight - weather permitting - will be hot air balloon rides.

As many as 5,000 are expected to attend. Some police officers will spend the day helping festival goers cross Hwy. 160. Fort Mill will open on street parking in the neighborhoods around the park on one side of the street and several businesses and area churches have offered their parking lots to the town, in addition to the municipal lots along Main Street.

Fort Mill will spend $8,000 to $10,000 on the festival to pay town staff and police officers during the event. Another $30,000 has been raised through corporate sponsorships to pay the performers and cover other expenses, Hudspeth said.