I think one of the first festivals I was ever aware of was the Come-See-Me Festival
in Rock Hill
. Everyone seemed to have a T-shirt with the cute frog on it.
That frog was created by illustrator Vernon Grant
, a Rock Hill
resident famous for creating three little cartoon figures known as “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” to advertise Kellogg’s Rice Krispies brand breakfast cereal. The festival was created by Grant and former Rock Hill Mayor C.H. Albright 50 years ago as a way to get residents’ friends and family to visit Rock Hill
. It started as a weekend and now it is a 10-day celebration of all the great things to see and do in Rock Hill.
For the 50th anniversary, the folks at Come-See-Me have added the original owl mascot to the program that also features the famed Glen the Frog that has adorned the festival’s T-shirts for most of its 50 years.
The event runs April 11-20
and kicks off with an evening parade 6:30 p.m., April 11 down Oakland Avenue then off to East White and Main streets downtown.
On that first weekend, the Catawba Indian Nation, which has a reservation just outside Rock Hill, will host a Native American Pow-Wow
featuring dancers and drummers and including traditional craft and food vendors.
The Pow-Wows will be held 3-10 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday at Winthrop Coliseum, 1162 Eden Terrace, just a couple miles from downtown on the campus of Winthrop University. The Aztec Dancers, Hoop Dancers and Apache Dancers will perform at various times during the daily events. Tickets for this event can be purchased at the door and are $6 for adults, $4 for children 6-11 years old and free for younger children. Call (803) 328-2427, ext. 230 for additional information.
The festival also features several sporting events for watching or for playing.
For watching, there is the AAU District Gymnastics Championships
and the Area Eleven Special Olympics Spring Games.
For playing, there’s a youth football clinic, a golf tournament, a 5K and fun run and the Make a Bed & Make a Difference Bed Race, in which teams create themed beds and race them down Main Street to raise money for Family Promise, a local homeless shelter for families.
For watching or playing, there is the 3 on 3 basketball tournament at 2 p.m. on April 13-14 at the Upper Palmetto YMCA, 402 Charlotte Ave. Play is for those 18 and older and is segmented by age (including a 46 and up division for those of us who remember playing before the 3-point line. It’s $60 per team to play. Watching is free.
There also is the Rock Hill City Championships tennis tournament April 12-14 (pay to play, but free to watch).
Winthrop University is coordinating a track and field event on the first Friday. The Winthrop baseball and softball teams, as well as the men’s and women’s tennis teams and the women’s lacrosse team will be in action throughout the festival.
And, definitely in the “watching” category is the skydiving exhibition at 6:45 p.m. April 20 at Winthrop Lake. The Carolina Skydiving Team will perform different maneuvers in the sky. You can meet the daredevils after they land, learn about skydiving and even help them repack their parachutes.
The central focus of the Come-See-Me Festival has always been Glencairn Garden, created by David Bigger and donated to the city of Rock Hill in the 1950s. The garden is a bonanza of camellias, dogwoods, wisteria and azaleas in full bloom.
There always is plenty of live music from local bands to Winthrop University’s
jazz and symphony ensembles. Local choral groups also will perform and there will be live music in the gardens most days at lunch and after work.
On April 19, there will be Moonlight Jazz & Blues 6-10 p.m. at Winthrop Lake. Pack a picnic and your blankets, chairs and coolers for this free concert. Parking at the coliseum is $5 and adults bringing alcohol to the party must purchase a $2 wristband and show a valid ID.
Oh, and about the frogs. While Glen and Glenda may be the frog-stars of Come-See-Me, there will be plenty others at the Mayor’s Frog Jump, starting at 10 a.m. April 13. Come around 9:30 if you want to enter a frog. (If you don’t have your own, the festival has plenty you can “borrow” for the event.) Top hoppers will receive a prize.
for a list of events.