UNION — Union’s downtown will once again be packed with visitors when the 2014 edition of the Uniquely Union Festival returns Sept. 12-13.
Last year the event drew nearly 7,000 people to the city center and festival organizers hope to top that number this year. This year’s festival will build on last year’s success by offering more music, entertainment and rides for the kids.
Uniquely Union will keep the same format as last year by dividing the festival into sections. The Kidz Zone, Art Walk, Gospel Jubilee, Main Stage, Food Court, BBQ and vendor areas all return this year with the only changes being to some of the locations. The biggest change involves the Main Stage, BBQ, Food Court and Merchandise Row.
“We relocated everything that was at USC-Union last year to the opposite side of town on Enterprise Street,” said festival chairperson Jami Trammell. “We found that this is actually helping us with our foot traffic flow this year by giving us the opportunity to have our two most popular areas, the Kidz Zone and the Main Stage on different ends of the festival route. This should give the vendors and downtown merchants more visitors each day.”
In the other venue location change, the Gospel Jubilee will be held on the first block coming into town from the Courthouse.
One of the biggest changes to this year’s festival is the addition of a greater number, and variety, of entertainment being offered.
“Last year we decided to try to steer the festival in the direction of being more of an art and music festival instead of just a barbeque event,” Trammell said. “We’ve continued that philosophy this year and we think that this decision will be very well received by festival-goers.”
The Main Stage will have bands playing most of the day over the festival’s two days. The Friday night headliner, Outshyne, is a young country band from Laurens in the mold of the powerhouse Florida Georgia Line. The band’s single “Moonlight Crush” was co-written by Marv Green, Blake Wise and BMI Songwriter of the Year Rodney Clawson. These writers have had a combined 13 number one singles on the country charts. “Moonlight Crush” spent time in the top spot on Sirius/XM Radio’s “The Highway” channel’s Hot 45 Countdown and is currently number three; still ahead of artists such as Blake Shelton, Luke Bryant and Brad Paisley.
Masters of Soul will bring a Motown-style revue to Union for a Saturday night show.
MOS bandleader John Hodges sums up the show in this way.
“Imagine the early years of Motown when all of the great groups and entertainers piled into busses to take their review from town to town. That’s our show. You’ll see tributes to all of the artists who brought that Motown magic to the stage.”
In shows ranging from Georgia to Mexico to Washington State and everywhere in-between Masters of Soul has thrilled audiences with tribute performances of The Temptations, The Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, The Four Tops and many other artists of that era. And, in addition to these great acts, other artists have been added who were not on the original review tours such as Barry White, Lou Rawls, The O’Jays, Aretha Franklin and Sly and the Family Stone.
Local bands Hit ‘n Run, the Mattie Phifer Band, Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner, and McFearlis Music featuring Ary Fleming, Robbie Luca, Templeton Maestro and Shane Ericks will round out the Main Stage schedule.
If gospel music is what you want to hear, the Gospel Jubilee stage will be filled both days with local gospel entertainers. On Saturday, Southern gospel singer/songwriter Monty Allen will headline the day’s entertainment performing songs from his new CD “Narrow Road.”
The Union County Arts Council, in the Art Walk section of the festival will be converted into the “UCAC Acoustic Café.” Festival attendees can come in out of the heat and have a cold soft drink, help themselves to free peanuts and listen to music by local musicians all day on Friday and Saturday. An art exhibit by Todd Baxter and a “meet the author” event with local writer Dan O’Sheilds will also be featured during the festival.
Even the Kidz Zone will be providing music and other entertainment. Kidz Zone director Kacie Petrie explained, “Our stage will feature a DJ and karaoke. And cash prizes will be given to the winners of our two doughnut-eating contests and two ‘Unique Cornhole’ contests.”
The Kidz Zone is also expanding by adding a Ferris wheel to the lineup of mechanical and inflatable attractions from last year. All Kidz Zone rides are free.
One of the most popular events each year at the Uniquely Union Festival is the “Tasters’ Choice” held in conjunction with the barbeque competition. Festivalgoers will be able to taste samples from the competition cookers and vote for their favorite.
In the actual cookers’ competition, teams will be vying for over $7,000 in prize money with a $2,500 award going to the Grand Champion. Uniquely Union’s barbecue competition is sanctioned by the Southern BBQ Network.
If you are looking for that unique gift for someone, or yourself, there will be a wide variety of vendors available.
The Art Walk on Main Street from Arthur State Bank to the Lion’s Club building will feature art and craft vendors selling handcrafted items. Merchandise vendors will fill the spaces along Enterprise Street leading from Main Street to the Main Stage area. Food vendors will also be in each section of the festival as well as in the Food Court near the Main Stage.
Bike And Car Show
There are a couple of new events at this year’s festival that are sure to be a big hit. The Union County Tourism Commission is sponsoring a custom bike and car show competition on Saturday put on by the Magic Bike and Car Show. Judging will take place in 16 categories with the awards presented at 6:30 p.m.
And, thanks to volunteers from Boogaloo, Uniquely Union will be offering horse-drawn carriage rides to various historic sites in Union. Boogaloo actors will present short plays detailing historical events that happened at each location. There will be a small fee for the rides, which will last from 45 minutes to an hour.
“We’ve tried our best to put on a free festival that can be enjoyed by every member of every family in Union County and surrounding areas,” added Trammell. “There is no way that anyone can beat the level of entertainment being offered at no charge. Everything, with the exception of the carriage rides and items from the food and other vendors and tickets for “Tasters’ Choice” is completely free to the public.”
For a complete festival schedule, go to www.uniquelyunion.com.