FLORENCE, S.C. – The Ohio Players will headline the entertainment for the annual South Carolina Pecan Festival in downtown Florence on Nov. 2. The festival is expected to draw a crowd of approximately 50,000. It is sponsored by the Florence Downtown Development Corporation and the city of Florence.
The festival features eight stages of live entertainment and more than 200 arts and crafts, nonprofit groups and food vendors.
The Ohio Players were formed in the 1950s, according to their Facebook page.
The American funk and soul based R&B group reached its height of popularity in the 1970s and is most notably recognized for its hit “Fire.”
“We are very excited to be able to get them,” said George Jebaily, chairman of the Pecan Festival.
Some of the original members still perform, Jebaily said.
He said they will perform on the main stage on the corner of Irby and N.B. Baroody.
“I’ve never heard them live,” Jebaily said. “But they have had a string of gold records from the '70s and '80s, and I’m very familiar with their music.”
Jebaily said the band is high energy and has great reviews, great sound, and topnotch performers.
More than simply music, Jebaily said, they give a great performance.
“It is a show,” he said. “They reach out to the audience.”
Jebaily said that while a lot of people might not recognize the band by its name they will recognize its music.
“People will probably recognize their biggest hit, ‘Fire,’” Jebaily said.
He said the band has a lot of fans in the Southeast, and is eager to be back in this part of the country to perform.
“With eight stages of music there will be something for everybody,” Jebaily said. “And it is all free. Festival-goers get to enjoy the full day of activities with 250 vendors for free.”
He said some vendors come from 100 miles or more every year.
He said the festival includes an all-free kid zone, car show, sidewalk chalk art, pecan cook-off and much more.
There are lots of activities planned for the entire family, Jebaily said.
The morning will start with the Run Like a Nut half marathon/10K/5K and a Bike Like a Nut ride, starting at the Fitness Forum, across from the library on Dargan Street.
Jebaily said the courses are flat and fast.
Medals will be awarded and cash prizes will be handed out to the top three male and female finishers in the half marathon of $100, $50 and $25 for first, second and third place.
Registration is now open.
“People come from all over the country (to participate in these events),” Jebaily said.
He said festival-goers have come from as far away as Arizona, Texas and Minnesota.
He said they like the fast, flat course and the fact that it is usually a beautiful fall day for running and riding.
“If you’d like to run or ride bikes, go online and sign up,” he said.
Another highlight of the festival will be the singing of the national anthem this year by Rep Roger Kirby of Lake City, Jebaily said. He said Kirby will kick off the festival at 9:45 with the anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance.
The festival is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Jebaily has been the festival chairman since it began in 2003.
“We have a highly energized group of volunteers who are laser focused and work really hard to pull all the pieces together,” he said. “It is a privilege and pleasure to work with them.”
He said he is grateful to all their sponsors but especially to Pepsi, the presenting sponsor.
Jebaily said the festival also has a great partnership with the Florence Downtown Development Corporation, city of Florence and others involved in presenting this year’s festival.