May 2007

MayFest Returns to Bluffton's Historic District

Author: Melinda Copp

Calhoun Street is known as the artistic vein of the growing Bluffton community, as well as its link to the past. This historic district is lined with eclectic shops, unique eateries and art galleries that sing of Southern charm. On Saturday, May 12, artisans and craftsmen from throughout the Southeast will converge on Calhoun Street to celebrate the 29th Annual Bluffton Village Festival, also known as May Fest.

Calhoun Street will be closed to motorists, allowing May Festers to wander the streets, exploring the selection of wares as well as the historic Bluffton community. Babbie Guscio, May Fest organizer and owner of The Store on Calhoun Street, expects approximately 90 vendors at the festival, selling pottery, crafts, herbs, plants, orchids, artwork and plenty of food.

The event has grown over the years, primarily through word-of-mouth. “Vendors have heard about it through other vendors, and we have people coming from Florida, North Carolina and all over,” said Guscio.

Plus, Bluffton is growing, and that only makes the party bigger. According to Guscio, May Fest sees about 8-10,000 visitors each year, many of whom are former Blufftonians.
“It’s like a big family reunion for many people,” she said. Plus, many people are in town for Mother’s Day weekend, which is an important time for many families. “This is a great opportunity to find something special for mom,” she added.
In addition to the vendors lining Calhoun, the Heyward House Historic Center on Boundary Street will stage a reenactment to give visitors a taste of the Civil War era. The 11th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment will set up camp on the Heyward House grounds where they will demonstrate tintype photography and Civil War weaponry and discuss the history of South Carolina state flags.

“People will be able to experience what life was like in a Civil War camp,” said Christie Brown, manager of the Heyward House.

The Heyward House, which was built as a summer home for John Cole, the owner of Moreland Plantation, will also be open for May Fest. Visitors can tour the home, which was constructed circa 1840 and is one of only nine antebellum buildings remaining in Bluffton. The house demonstrates a summer home that hasn’t changed much since the original owners built it.

Area churches, Friends of the Rivers and other local organizations will also set up booths along Calhoun Street to distribute information and raise funds. The festival will last from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The rain date is planned for Sunday, May 13 from 1 to 5 p.m. Visitors can park along the streets in downtown Bluffton, but Calhoun Street will be closed to vehicle traffic.

For more information about May Fest, call The Store in Bluffton at 757-3855. And for more information about the Heyward House Historic Center, call 757-6293.

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