WINNSBORO — It’s that time again: Winnsboro is ready to celebrate its 17th annual Rock Around the Clock festival.
Celebrating the start of the autumn season during the first weekend of October, Winnsboro holds a festival to celebrate its beloved Town Clock — which is known for being the nation’s longest continuously running clock.
Last year’s Rock Around the Clock recorded a record turnout for the festival. According to reports submitted by the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce, the two-day event drew nearly 15,000 people.
This year, the festival begins Sept. 28 with the Rock Around the Clock Beauty Pageant. One noticeable difference is that an additional age category has been added. Women age 22 or older can now compete for their right to be crowned. Applications can be picked up at the chamber office or filled out online at www.fairfieldchamber.sc.
Chamber President Terry Vickers is delighted to offer a new age category.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the turnout,” Vickers said. “It should be an exciting pageant.”
Former judge Mary Startsman-Swearingen will be this year’s pageant director.
Vickers said Fairfield Central High School has invited the pageant winners to ride in the parade during the homecoming game on Oct. 11.
Amusement for children will include old-fashioned sack races, a hopscotch contest and inflatable rides.
Vickers said she is excited about the many performers booked for entertainment. The list includes Flashback Party Band, Susan Taylor, Blues Dolphins, Michael O’Connor and the D.B. Bryant Band.
“There is going to be a lot of different types of entertainers,” Vickers stated. “A lot of these bands have performed here before and everybody wanted them to come back.”
This year’s Classic Car Show will include up to 180 cars and three national champions.
“Having that many national champions come to the southeast and into Winnsboro is phenomenal,” Vickers said.
She also noted that food vendors will accept cash instead of tickets this year. Several fish, hot dog and hamburgers vendors have already signed up.
“Tickets did not work out as well as we had hoped last year,” Vickers said. “But we are still looking for food vendors that are unique such as barbecue or Thai.”
The Chamber of Commerce is looking for individuals and groups to participate in the parade that will kickoff the event. The parade will begin at the intersection of Congress and Evans streets. Lineup will begin at 6 p.m., with the parade starting at 7 p.m. It will go south on Congress Street from Evans Street to Moultrie Street.
Chamber Administrative Assistant Susan Yenner said participants should come from Highway 200 and line up along the curb. Signs will be posted to show participants where to line up.
Anyone can participate in the parade whether walking, in a car, truck, motorcycle, float or on horseback. The winners of the Rock Around the Clock Beauty Pageant will also be in the parade.
The chamber will award a trophy to the entry that best promotes the theme “Rock Chair Memories.” Last year’s winner was the Veteran’s Affairs office.
Participation in the parade is free but participants must register by Oct. 2. Registration forms can be picked up and dropped off at the chamber office, mailed to P.O. Box 297, Winnsboro, SC 29180 or faxed o 803-635-7955.