By Joy Bonala
This fall beneath a full moon, the largest music festival in Dorchester County’s recent history is set to take place at Givhans Ferry State Park. Hundreds of people are expected to gather along the Edisto River for the inaugural Edisto Blackwater Boogie.
Thirty-three different acts have committed to perform American roots genre music on Oct. 11-13 in conjunction with a variety of family-friendly, outdoor activities including kayaking, canoeing, bonfire jam sessions, guided tours, food and drink trucks and artisan vendors.
Local musician Dan Riley dreamed up the event idea two years ago while kayaking on the free-flowing blackwater river.
Riley, owner of Capital Service Group, a building services and janitorial company, said there have been small bluegrass jams held in Givhans Ferry but not a large weekend-long festival. Riley said one of the most important aspects of the festival was to plan it during a full moon.
The music lover even gets goosebumps just talking about live music performed beneath moonlight, alongside the black water; but he isn’t the only one who can visualize such a scene.
“The amount of support that has come together to put this event on has been amazing,” Riley said.
Dorchester County helped fund the event by providing $13,500 in grant money from hospitality tax revenue.
The county’s Parks and Recreation Department is on board, along with two conservationists: Friends of the Edisto and Edisto Riverkeeper, Hugo Krispyn.
A three-stage set-up provided by Awendaw Green will allow a seamless flow of music between the main stage and side stage.
A third stage will be set up in front of the park’s River Front Hall, allowing any state park visitors to also enjoy the event’s sights and sounds.
“The biggest thing I’ve been trying to do through my music is to encourage a sense of community through people gathering and sharing the experience of live music,” Riley said. “At a live event or concert, there’s an exchange of energy that happens between the musician and a crowd; it’s a beautiful thing. You don’t get that experience very often in life.”
Tent and camper sites are available through the park; on-site parking is also offered for participants. Tickets are on sale now with early bird prices ($25 for Friday, $30 for Saturday or $45 for the weekend) and are available until Sept. 15.
After Sept. 15, tickets will be $35 for Friday, $40 for Saturday or $55 for the weekend.
Tickets for children ages 6-16 are $5 apiece; and ages 5 and under get in free.
The event is rain or shine, but should a mandatory evacuation occur, the festival will be canceled and all tickets refunded.
The goal of the Edisto Blackwater Boogie is to “Celebrate the Edisto,” and funds raised from the festival will support improvements to the park and future Edisto Blackwater Boogies.
Other organizations helping to put on the event include: SC State Parks, Summerville Evening Rotary, Edisto River Adventures, Advyon Business Technology, and Summers Corner.
For a full list of bands set to play or to purchase tickets, visit Edisto Blackwater Boogie on Facebook.