FAIRFIELD COUNTY — Metal artist Herman Thompson of Jenkinsville will be one of the headline artists at the S.C. State Museum’s annual Fall Festival and Pickin’ Party on Sept. 19.
Thompson, for his part, identifies strongly with his hometown of Jenkinsville, where he was born, raised and still resides with his mother. He attributes his artistic inclinations to middle school drawing competitions and finds inspiration for his work in immediate surroundings.
The Fall Festival and Pickin’ Party will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 19. The festival presents a mixture of opportunities for guests to enjoy South Carolina barbecue and food, craft beer, live bluegrass music, artist demonstrations, an exhibition opening and more outside and inside the museum.
The South Carolina State Museum recently made exhibit and display changes, which Paul Matheny, chief curator for South Carolina State Museum, described as a typically divisive process. However, Matheny said one decision proved particularly easy.
“One thing we all agreed on was featuring Herman Thompson’s Barbecue Shack in the lobby,” Matheny said.
Matheny said Thompson’s work, which re-purposes scrap metal as art, is appropriately evocative of South Carolina and its artists and was a natural fit to be one of the first things visitors see when visiting the museum.
“We embrace all things related to the state, its history, culture art and science,” Matheny said.
The festival will feature a variety of barbecue made by award-winning South Carolina pit masters cooked on site at the event, including mustard-based sauce by Jim Hayes of West Columbia, light tomato sauce by Buddy Rogers of Marion, and vinegar and pepper sauce by David Elliott of Hemingway.
In addition, there will be chicken bog, hash and rice, and a special kid-friendly menu. Local craft beer will also be available for guests.
“Each year we continue to grow and expand this annual event,” said Matheny. “In addition to great barbecue, we’ve added more food options, a larger selection of bluegrass bands, including inviting Willie Wells to recreate Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor at the museum for the day, and several artists who will be demonstrating their craft. It will be a great opportunity to experience some of the reasons why South Carolina is incredibly unique – from foodways to music to art.”
Throughout the day, there will be live music from a variety of bluegrass bands performing on multiple stages, including Flatland Express, Palmetto Blue, Roadkill, The Carolina Rebels, The Mustache Brothers, The Sweet Potato Pie Kids of the Young Appalachian Musicians, and Willie Wells and The Blue Ridge Mountain Grass.
Guests will also enjoy a re-creation of Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor, which was originally created by Bill Wells as a public gathering place for people to play country and bluegrass music. The parlor is still open in West Columbia and is operated by Bill’s son, Willie Wells.
Willie will be heading up the re-creation of the Pickin’ Parlor at Fall Festival, which will include several bluegrass musicians picking and singing for guests to watch and enjoy.
Thompson will join a number of accomplished artists and craftspeople from across the state, including several from the Carolina Makers art exhibitions, in demonstrating and discussing their techniques, including Tom Boozer (wooden decoys), Jack Bouknight (handmade guitars), Jocelyn Chateauvert (handmade paper sculpture), Kaminer Haislip (silver and copper objects and silver jewelry), Heyward Haltiwanger (blacksmithing), Leigh Magar (textiles), Jennifaye Singleton (sweet grass baskets), Geraldine Smith (memory painting), Jaryd Walley (furniture) and Joseph Thompson Woodworks (furniture and jewelry).
Guests can explore the new changing exhibition, Time and Place: The Artwork of James Fowler Cooper, opening the same day as the event. The exhibition features original etchings and prints by South Carolina self-taught printmaker James Fowler Cooper, which tell the story of the Lowcountry through the artist’s eyes and experiences.
The exhibition will be composed of more than 40 prints and plates donated by Fowler’s family to the museum – some of which will be seen by the public for the first time.
The museum will conduct a “Bed Turning,” presenting quilts as they were meant to be seen – on a bed. Textile historian and restorer Maree Dowdey and State Museum curator of history JoAnn Zeise will peel back several quilts from the State Museum’s collection, revealing their history, pattern, significance and backing.
There will be a children’s tent with a variety of activities and hands-on crafts. Fall Festival and Pickin’ Party will take place in front of the museum, as well in the lobby and in areas throughout the museum. Guests are welcome to bring their own chair or blanket to enjoy some of the bands playing outside.
All Fall Festival and Pickin’ Party activities are included with museum general admission or membership, except for food, beverages and art purchases. Visit scmuseum.org for more information about the event.