The fifth annual West Allen Williams Heritage and Old Time Music Festival will be held this Saturday, October 27th from 9 am until 6 pm at the Williamston Municipal Center Auditorium. It features local history displays by local residents, churches and civic organizations. The auditorium stage will feature local and regional music acts. Hot dog plates will be available.
“This festival revolves around the founding of the Town of Williamston following the discovery of the mineral spring by West Allen Williams, but the scope of the event reaches out far beyond that,” says Thomas Addison, Art Director of the Palmetto Area Cultural Arts Center. The Arts Center is the sponsoring agency of the festival.
“As we celebrate our community’s history, we as participants take an active role in writing the history of tomorrow,” Addison continues. “Residents of the entire area, including not only Williamston, but also Pelzer, Piedmont, Powdersville, and Belton are invited to participate.”
The public can participate by attending, but also by renting a table and displaying their own family, church or community history. “ In the past, we have had old photos, postcards, hand-written letters, and antiques,” he says.
A table can be rented for $10 and can be paid at the door. The Duke Energy Foundation, WNCW radio, and The Journal are also participating sponsors.
Addison said, “An example of the sort of things you will see at our festival, and the kind of thing I encourage folks to bring is an old photo of my Grandfather and Grandmother Looper made at Snipes Studio in Pelzer in 1910. That alone makes it special to me, but there is a story that accompanies this photo that makes it even more special!
About 20 years ago, as my family was returning home from a camping trip to Cherokee, North Carolina, I talked my wife into pulling over and checking out the antiques at Scott Vaughn’s store north of Travelers Rest. While Roni checked out the vintage clothing, I headed for the old photos and art prints, as is my custom. I found an unusually large box of photos, and began thumbing through them. I was interested to see where these photos originated from. I saw old pictures from studios in New York, Philadelphia, Boston. Then, there was one single photo of a good-looking couple with a stamp on the mat “Snipes Studio Pelzer.” This was the only photo in the box from Pelzer. It was the only photo in the box from south of the Mason-Dixon line! I took it to Scott’s register and told him that the photo was from my home community. He looked surprised and said that he purchased the whole box at an auction in Knoxville, and was told that the photos had arrived there from New York City! I told him that it was friend or family, for sure, and I wanted it. He charged me one dollar.
After returning home, I compared the photo to a photocopy cousin Jeanne Segers had made, and realized that, indeed, these were my grandparents! Figure the odds of that whole scenario! Cheryl Whitten tells me that it was just meant to be that this old photo that had roamed the country for a hundred years would return to family!”
A few years later, Scott Vaughn’s antique house burned to the ground.