Festival Draws Record Numbers

For 16 years, Rock Around the Clock has been the signature event for the town of Winnsboro, with people coming from every corner of the county to enjoy the Friday night dance and the Saturday morning fun, but this year’s event was something special.

“It was the biggest and the best ever,” said Terry Vickers, President of the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the annual event. “People started lining up for the parade at 5 o’clock and stayed until 11 when the street dance was over. The vendors were here and they were busy all night.”

How busy?

Festival goers had to purchase tickets this year to use in exchange for food from the vendors. Vickers said the Chamber had stocked up with 10,000 such tickets prior to the kickoff of the festival. By the end of the night Friday, there were only a handful of tickets left.

“I had to go to Columbia Saturday morning to buy more tickets,” Vickers said.

A rough estimate made by the Winnsboro Department of Public Safety numbered the Friday night crowd at around 4,500 people, Vickers said.

“People were shoulder-to-shoulder all the way up the street and through the food court,” Vickers said, as the Coast Runners band from Charleston and local D.J. Papa Charlie provided the sound track for the street dance.

Saturday, things got even busier, with approximately 10,000 people jamming the streets of Winnsboro for the fun.

“It was solid people from College Street to Moultrie Street,” Vickers said, “all day, until 3 p.m.”

The food vendors never stopped working, she said, and this year’s event featured some very good craft vendors who also moved the merchandise. And this year’s car show featured more than 150 classic autos, which drew a lot of envious eyes.

Another big draw this year, Vickers said, was a new set of amusements for the children, including a cow-milking attraction that eventually took so many tugs it ran out of milk.

“Everybody had a good time, and that’s the main thing,” Vickers said. “Our Public Safety Department did a fantastic job and our Streets and Sanitation Department got it all cleaned up when it was over.”

So, with the best event in 16 years in the rear-view mirror, how does the Chamber plan to top that next year?

“We have some ideas,” Vickers said, “but we’re keeping them under our hat for now.”

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