If These Buildings and Walls Could Talk
Originally known as New Town, Ridgeway obtained its present name when the owners of the Charlotte and South Carolina Railway decided not to build the railroad on the Camden route, but rather to use the “ridge way.” The railroad spurred growth of the town, but today it remains a charming community where the shopkeepers and restaurateurs are all friends and greet each other warmly by name.
Tina Johnson, owner of Over the Top, a shop that sells hats and accessories said that the town’s warmth is what drew her to open a business there.
“You can just feel it when you’re walking down the street,” Johnson said. “It’s a small town on the outskirts of Columbia, and it’s a wonderful day trip to shop and eat and just soak up the atmosphere.”
“That’s the great thing about Ridgeway,” said Virginia Lacy, the chairwoman of the festival committee. “Tina stocks her store with things from Atlanta and New York, yet we have antique stores and consignment shops where you can feel like you just walked into your grandmother’s kitchen or your grandfather’s barn.”
And that sort of dichotomy is what makes the town so special and gave the planning committee the idea for having a festival five years ago.
“We wanted to share our town with the surrounding communities,” Lacy said. “The first year it was mainly just local artists selling their work, but it’s grown and expanded every year since.”
And this year promises to be the best one yet, Lacy added.
The theme of this year’s festival is Arts, Artifacts, and Architecture and will include tours and exhibits that will pinpoint the unique architecture of the town that makes it such a hub of history in the state.
“We just have so much history in our town, and this year we’ve expanded the festival to include tours so people can hear the stories of how things used to be and fully appreciate the architecture that reflects the past so well.”
The festivities kick off Friday evening, May 6 when the public is invited to a gala celebration at the Century House in Ridgeway that will include music, hors d'oeuvres, and beverages as well as a chance to meet the artists that will be displaying their wares. Guests can even vote for their choice of the best art work. The winner will be presented with The People’s Choice Awards, and the Fairfield Arts Council will also present the annual Friend of the Arts award during the Friday festivities.
“Our artists and craftspeople come from all over,” Lacy said. “The work is so beautiful and so varied that a person could spend hours just browsing and picking things out.”
Art work will include pen and ink drawings, watercolors, acrylic and oil paintings to sculptures and photography.
Also on Friday, beginning at 7 pm, the If These Buildings and Walls Could Talk Walk will set out from the Century House as an entertaining guided tour of the historic homes and buildings of Ridgeway.
Saturday’s events include the Art Show and an exhibit of historical photographs and artifacts in the Century House from 10 am to 4 pm.
“This is the first year we will have the upstairs of the Century House available to the public,” Lacy said. “Ridgeway families have donated artifacts, antiques, and historic photographs. We are all very proud to be able to present this to our visitors.”
Art and handmade crafts will be available for sale in the Cotton Yard on Saturday as well. When the railroad first came to the then named New Town, area farmers would meet in the Cotton Yard to sell their crops and get them on the trains. Saturday, it will once again be a place of gathering the community together for buying and selling, only this time there will be music and various food vendors adding a festive atmosphere to the entire day.
“There will be music all over town, so anyone can find something they like, I’m sure,” Lacy said. “Right now there are more than 30 artists that have already signed up, and we’re still almost two weeks away.”
There are diverse tours planned including the Plantations and Pews bus tours at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Carriage Ride Architectural Tours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. from the Cotton Yard, and self-guided architectural walking tours. Vendor booths, craft demonstrations, musical entertainment, local merchant specials, and author book signings will round out the festivities on Saturday.
Tickets are required for the If These Buildings and Walls Could Talk Walk on Friday evening and the Plantations and Pews bus tours on Saturday. Fees will be charged for the Carriage Ride Architectural Tours on Saturday. For ticket information or more details about the Arts on the Ridge events, call the Ridgeway Town Hall at (803) 337-2213 or visit www.RidgewaySC.org on the web for driving directions and festival updates.
The sponsors for this year’s Arts on the Ridge are the Town of Ridgeway, First Citizens’ Bank and Trust Company, and the Fairfield County Arts Council.
Artists and craftsmen interested in participating in Arts on the Ridge should contact Virginia Lacy at (803) 337-3269.
“The spaces are filling up quickly, and that is just so exciting,” Lacy said. “Everyone can look forward to two days of a huge assortment of activities, music, and events as well as a lot of really beautiful arts and crafts. It will be a wonderful way to spend the day!”