After two years without the Festival of Roses, fun and smiles returned to Orangeburg’s Edisto Memorial Gardens on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

“The festival is awesome. The festival is going good, man. It’s great to see all the citizens of Orangeburg County and we are enjoying it,” Anthony Hallmon said.

Hallmon grew up visiting the festival, so it was nice to see it return after a two-year pandemic delay.

“It seems like it’s an even bigger turnout. People are just happy to be back out,” Hallmon said.

Riverside Drive became a sea of people with vendors and food trucks lining up on the sides of the road for the visitors to enjoy.

Businesses promoted themselves and church members shared their faith. Visitors could also watch performances.

Visitors from all over greeted each other and shared pleasantries with people they may not have seen for years.

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“People are trying to get to the new normal. It’s wonderful seeing people, some of these people I haven’t seen since COVID, so it’s wonderful seeing people I haven’t seen since the last Rose Festival,” Tina McCollum said.

The visitors came out to have fun and be with their community once more. Old friends laughed, children played and toys and candy were handed out.

“It’s been good for the kids and it’s a friendly environment for them. There’s stuff for them to do and there’s plenty for them to eat and want to buy,” Abby Lowther said.

“It feels good to have a sense of normalcy and get back to our new normal. It’s been a big adjustment, but it’s worth it,” Lowther said.

Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President James McQuilla said, “You can walk around and see that everybody is excited to be out and about.

“You see people being a little bit more cordial. They know everybody has been a little cooped up, and they know everybody wants to have a good time.”

McCollum said, “I think this is something really good for the community.”

“This gave every family something to participate in. Whether they were infants, toddlers, adults, young adults, older adults, everybody has found something that they can enjoy here,” McQuilla said.

“We’ve had vendors here, we’ve had the dancers, young and old, and we’ve had rides. Everyone here wanted it to be fun. Everyone is being kind, everyone’s being helpful. Everybody is willing to now have people close to them, waiting in lines, and people are being patient and that is great,” McQuilla said.

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