Organizers of the 2015 Spring Water Festival said they were very pleased with this year’s festival.
“We were blessed with great festival weather and everything went really well,” Springwater Committee Chairman David Meade said. “We had reports that there was rain in several surrounding areas but other than a few drops on Saturday morning, it was great.”
Slightly overcast and cooler temperatures contributed to a good crowd at the festival all day on Saturday, Meade said. While not the largest crowd the festival has had, attendance was better than average. Organizers estimated the crowd at 7000 to 10,000 over the two days of the festival.
Approximately 1000 people enjoyed beach music with the Carolina Coast Band on Friday night and checking out the vendors that were open in the craft area, along with the festival food and rides. On Saturday Mineral Spring Park was filled with people browsing and shopping with vendors and watching entertainment throughout the day.
This year’s festival featured two special events:
Nashville recording artist Austin Webb performed for a hometown crowd and was presented a “Key to the City” plaque by the Town of Williamston. Webb wowed the crowd with his performance of a mix of songs and his four radio singles.
About midway through his 90 minute show, the hometown crowd shared an intimate moment with the singer, while reflecting on growing up in Williamston and how much he loved his hometown. Webb often talks about South Carolina and where he came from as he travels the country. He brought tears to the eyes of many in the crowd when he paused for about a minute, obviously moved by the moment, as the thought of where he was sank in. “I never cry on stage,” he finally said. “As many times as I’ve talked about home on the stage, this is the first time.”
Webb ended his performace with his Top 40 hit “All Country on You” currently being played on Country Radio.
Just as the crowd began to leave, Springwater Chairman David Meade came on stage and told them they might want to stay around for a special presentation and to see Webb perform one more song.
Williamston Mayor Mack Durham was joined by councilmembers David Harvell, Rockey Burgess and Otis Scott on stage before the hometown crowd for the special presentation of a “Key to the City” plaque which reads:
Presented to Austin Webb
In recognition of your musical achievement and your future success in the industry
Presented this day of August 22, 2015
Mayor and Town Council
Of Williamston, South Carolina
“He put on a great show and was the highlight of the weekend,” Mayor Durham said. “It was an honor for me and our councilmen to present the “Key to the City” to Austin. He really is a great ambassador for our town wherever he goes.”
Durham added, “Many have told me that it was the best festival they could remember in Williamston! The Springwater Committee really did a great job this year and it was even more special to welcome Austin Webb back home.”
Founder Art Unveiled
The second highlight of the 34th Annual festival was the unveiling of a lifesize clay statue of Williamston founder West Allen Williams.
Local artist Thomas Addison told onlookers the story of Williams uncovering leaves and finding the spring around which the town was built. According to Addison the base of the statue reflected this with leaves individually crafted by his art sudents.
Addison hopes to eventually raise enough money through donations to have the clay statue bronzed and placed permanently at the Williams Memorial located in the park.
Car show biggest ever
SWF Car show organizer Steve Ellison said they had a large number of vehicles register for the event this year and the staging along the new Mineral Spring Walking Trail added a new dimension. He said there were alot of people enjoying the show throughout the day.
“We had 154 Show Cars registered, the most ever,” Ellison said. “I want to personally say “Thank you” to everyone who helped at the 34th Spring Water Festival!”
Ellison said several mechanics worked tirelessly until midnight on several nights to get the 1936 Fire Engine up and running in time for the festival. An exciting open air ride on the antique fire truck is a highlight of the festival for many.
“To Phillip Ellison, Ricky Heatherly, and Van Ellison, we say a very, very, special thank you.”
Ellison also thanked those who sold the tickets, drove the truck, and rode the tail board, registered cars, directed traffic and helped with parking.
He said the show car parking along the walking trail was “super” and worked “great.”
He said the Fire Department Explorers were a big help and were greatly needed.
“It’s the folks who operate behind the scenes, and work, work , and work, that’s never recognized, that make the Festival what it is,” Ellison said. “Again, I say thank you.”
Winner of the Williamston Fire Department TV drawing was Joseph Wilson (Bubba), of Country Glen, Pelzer.
Lt. Jack Sanders of the Williamston Police Department said the event went real smooth and there were no real problems for his officers.
Food organizer Jim Riddle said the 14 vendors were busy throughout most of the festival.
“It went great overall,” he said. “The variety and the unusual items by vendors were a big hit.” Riddle said the low country food and the mexican food were crowd pleasers and both said they want to return next year. “Everybody was happy and wants to come back,” he said.
The festival had the most business and non-profit display vendors ever with over 50 booths spread over the sidewalk from the Mineral Spring House almost to the exit near McDonalds, organizer Dianne Lollis said. Many were giving away bottled water and went through cases.
With 54 craft vendors, the craft area was almost at capacity. Many of the craft vendors said they did very well and plan to return next year.
J-ann Bieniek of Jhaz Soaps said, “It was great! We had a great time. We can’t wait to sign up for next year’s. We are hoping to get the same location. Thanks for featuring us in The Journal, that helped a lot.”