Come-See-Me festival challenged by weather

Holding a festival in April in Rock Hill always is something of a gamble. And, as with all gambles, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

This year, Mother Nature did not cooperate for more than half of the 10-day Come-See-Me festival, often forcing organizers to reschedule events or move them indoors to escape the rainy, chilly weather. On some days, festival-goers could be spotted decked out in cold-weather gear or wrapped in blankets for outdoor events.

Come-See-Me is designed to showcase Rock Hill at its finest, and the timing for spring blooms was just right. Azaleas, dogwoods and other spring finery were at their peak.

But spring festivals are best enjoyed under clear skies with ample sunlight and mild temperatures. Only a few days met that standard.

The finale of the festival, the tailgating party at Winthrop Lake and the annual fireworks display, was especially challenging. With drenching rain on Saturday, the day the festival was supposed to wrap up, events had to be bumped up to Sunday.

That was a big challenge for organizers, who had to scramble to book new musical acts, arrange for volunteers to staff entry tables, reschedule security details and prepare for any other unforeseen glitches. And the weather wasn’t all that great on Sunday, either.

Adding to the uncertainty was a new policy put in place this year in which adults were charged a $5 entry fee to attend the tailgating party. Some people were surprised by the fee, and organizers worried that some were discouraged from attending the festivities because of the cost.

We think the fee policy is reasonable. Those who attend the tailgate party with music and spectacular fireworks are getting a lot for their $5.

The money raised at what is surely the festival’s most popular single event helps defray a variety of costs associated with Come-See-Me, including promotion, security, equipment and other expenses. While individual donors and corporate sponsors also help with donations, and much of the work is done by volunteers, the cost of mounting a 10-day festival with events scheduled every day still is enormous.

This was not a good year to judge whether the new fee is practical. Let’s wait for a year when the weather is perfect and everyone wants to be outside watching fireworks explode overhead.

We also suspect that some people were grumpy about the fee this year because it was the first time they have been charged to attend the tailgate party. But they may be better prepared for it next year.

Despite the weather setbacks, we think David Williams, this year’s festival chairman, and the hundreds of volunteers who helped keep this giant 10-day enterprise afloat for 11 days did a magnificent job. Come-See-Me ranks as one of the premier festivals in the Southeast every year, and those involved in this year’s festival kept the standard high.

Congratulations to all involved.

In summary

Despite the weather, organizers and volunteers made the best of the situation and managed to put together a successful Come-See-Me Festival.