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South Carolina Festival Of Discovery 2024: Details & Full Schedule

The annual South Carolina Festival Of Discovery is taking place in Greenwood, SC from July 11 to 13, 2024. Get all the details about the festival in this post.

For more tips planning your next trip, check out all of our travel posts.

Turkey legs on a grill with the words "South Carolina Festival Of Discovery Details & Full Schedule" digitally written on top.

The South Carolina Festival Of Discovery is an annual blues and barbecue festival happening in the namesake of Greenwood County, South Carolina.

The annual event, now in its 23rd year, takes place in the center of Uptown Greenwood, South Carolina from July 11 to 13, 2024.

We went a couple years ago and had such a good time. There’s a ton of barbecue to eat and live music all over town. Our favorite part was the People’s Choice, which is a public voted contest. You eat a sample from all the BBQ teams in the competition and vote for your favorite.

The majority of the festival happens on or near Main Street, so keep that in mind for road closures. Main Street, and several side streets, will be closed Thursday, July 11 at 6 pm and will remain closed until Sunday, July 14 at noon.

Keep reading to find out out more about the festival, which is great for the entire family, and get the festival’s full schedule.

Four scenes from Greenwood, SC with the words "24 Hours In Greenwood, SC" digitally written over them.

The SC Festival Of Discovery is all weekend long, which leaves you time to check out the rest of Greenwood while you’re there.

One thing you absolutely should do when you’re in town is visit Lake Greenwood State Park. It’s a great place to walk off all the barbecue you’ll be eating during the festival. For more idea, check out our 24 Hours In Greenwood, South Carolina post.

South Carolina Festival Of Discovery: Everything You Need To Know

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At the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery, you’ll discover (mostly) barbecue and blues music. Plus, the beautiful town of Greenwood.

A sign advertising the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery.

Where is Greenwood?

Greenwood, South Carolina is in Greenwood County, in western South Carolina, near the Georgia border.

It’s found in the Old 96 District in South Carolina, which consists of Greenwood, Abbeville, Edgefield, Laurens, and McCormick Counties.

Greenwood is also home to the South Carolina Festival Of Flowers, which originally began in 1968. Every year, over 40 topiaries are featured throughout the town. Some of the topiaries are  still on display during the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery.

A barbecue menu at the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery.

What is the main attraction of the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery?

The main attractions are the barbecue and the blues music.

Music is life, but let’s start with the food.

Brisket nachos.

Barbecue:

Barbecue will be served from lunch Thursday through Saturday evening. There are countless barbecue vendors at the event, all serving hot and fresh barbecue. You can stop by, peruse their offerings, and enjoy lunch or dinner (or lunch and dinner).

The majority of the food vendors are located in the parking lot on Main Street between Court Avenue and Seaboard Avenue (from the Inn on the Square to the Greenwood Community Theater, if you’re familiar with the area).

Some vendors will be set up in the Kids Zone, at Uptown Market and along on Maxwell Street in that area.

A woman buying food at a vendor tent at the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery.

In addition to the barbecue vendors, there will be food trucks and other non-barbecue vendors set up around the festival area. There will be dessert trucks, selling items like doughnuts and sno cones, as well.

Outside food and drink isn’t permitted at the festival.

Tickets for the 2022 People's Choice Event at the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery.

People’s Choice Competition:

If you’re indecisive, Saturday is for you. That’s when the People’s Choice event is happening. From 10 am to 3 pm, anyone can purchase sample tickets for $1 each and redeem them with the barbecue vendors. (Not all the vendors participate in the contest.)

If you purchase five tickets, you’ll be given a voting ticket and can cast your ballot for your favorite barbecue.

Of course, you can sample all of them, but five samples will be filing. My mom and I got five tickets each, then split 10 samples.

If that’s what your plan is, we encourage you to start early. The vendors have a limited number of samples, and once they’re out, they’re out. We saw many sell out when we were at the festival. And so, if you don’t start early enough or eat fast enough, you might end up having to use multiple tickets at the same vendor.

At 5 pm, the People’s Choice winner will be announced. Cherrywood BBQ is the reigning champs — as the 2021, 2022 and 2023 South Carolina Festival Of Discovery People’s Choice winner. We tried their barbecue during the People’s Choice event, but we voted for two different vendors.

Additional competitors will be judged in a Kansas City Barbecue Style competition as well. The 2023 South Carolina Festival Of Discovery grand champion was Chunky BBQ.

Kids competing in a barbecue contest at the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery.

Kids Que:

If you have a kid who loves Top Chef Juniors, the Kids Que competition is for them. Kids ages 6 to 15 will compete Friday, July 12 from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Using two pounds of ground beef, a pound of bacon, and a charcoal grill, kids will compete to make barbecue that will be judged blindly.

An adult must be with the child at all time and can only assist with difficult tasks, like lighting the grill or making hard cuts. Everything else is done by the kids.

Musicians Sir Rod and the Blues Doctors on the Main Stage at the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery.

Blues Cruise:

Don’t be confused by the name: Blues Cruise. It’s not an actual cruise on a boat. Rather, it’s you cruising around to different venues in the area to check out live blues music from numerous musical artists, like Shrimp City Slim from Charleston and Jimmy Hall from Nashville.

Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors is back on the schedule this year after missing last year, and that was our favorite band from 2022’s festival. Fun fact: Adam Gussow, former member of Satan & Adam, plays with Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors. He was raised less than 10 minutes away from where I was raised (although a few decades before me).

There will be a Main Stage with music on Thursday from 6 pm to 8:30 pm, Friday from 11 am to 10 pm, and Saturday from 11 am to 4:30 pm.

Musicians on stage at Inn On The Square at the S.C. Festival Of Discovery.

But wait, there’s more.

A bunch of Uptown Greenwood restaurants and businesses get in on the fun and have live music in their venues (and on the sidewalk outside their venues). You can catch sets at Aromas UptownBuffalo Grill, Eggs Up Grill, Flynn’s on MaxwellGood Times BrewingInn on the SquareMontague’sPolo’s Restaurant, Sled Dawg Brewery, Southern Soul on Main, and more.

There will also be music at the Greenwood Museum and Howard’s on Main.

A carnival fun house.

Kids Zone:

There will be a full designated area on Maxwell Avenue, in the Uptown Market Parking Lot, for amusement rides for kids. There will be a Ferris wheel, loop, swing, fun house, inflatable slide, and more. Plus, some food vendors set up in that area.

The Kids Zone will be open from 5 pm to 10 pm on Friday and 10 am to 10 pm on Saturday. Tickets are $1 each or 25 for $20. Bracelets are also available for $20 and valid Friday night, and either 10 am to 4 pm or 4 pm to 10 pm on Saturday.

That’s also right near the splash pad, which is free and will be running during the day. And that’s great because it’s hot this time of year. So that water is nice.

Alcohol:

Alcohol will be available for sale, if you’re 21 or over.

What’s very cool is that you can buy a wristband for $10 that allows you to take beer and wine (no liquor) outside of the festival area, but within designated areas in downtown Greenwood. So you’ll be able to purchase a wristband and take your drink around to the other venues to check out their live music.

You can purchase a wristband outside of Howard’s on Main.

Here’s an interesting tidbit, though. Because of the wristbands, there’s an ordinance that won’t allow breweries, like Good Times Brewing, to sell their cans or growlers to go during the festival times. It’s a way to stop people from purchasing a 64 oz. growler, pounding it during the festival, and getting intoxicated and rowdy. So, if you’re in the area visiting and want to buy craft beer in Greenwood to bring home, you’ll have to find it at local grocery stores and gas stations instead of purchasing it at the brewery itself.

Competitors in a hot dog eating contest.

Hot Dog Eating Contest:

On Saturday, there will be a hot dog eating competition from noon to 1 pm. Only South Carolina residents, who are 18 and older (or under 18 with parental permission) are able to compete. So I can’t participate and neither can Joey Chestnut, but we can watch.  If you’ve never seen a hot dog eating contest in real life, it’s more wild than you can even imagine

It costs $5 to enter, which includes a t-shirt and all the hot dogs you can eat in 12 minutes. The winner receives $500.

The 2022 South Carolina Festival Of Discovery hot dog eating contest was Greenwood’s own Bryan Crocker who ate 17 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

Vendors outside Uptown Market in Greenwood, SC.

Craft & Vendor Event

There’s a craft and vendor event happening at the festival, but it’s not your typical vendor fair. Don’t expect to see the typical vendors.

For this event, only BBQ and Outdoor Living vendors will be showcasing their products. So, think cutting boards and barbecue sauce, items related to barbecuing (which makes total sense).

The event is happening on Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. The festival hasn’t designated where, but at previous festivals, the vendors have been set up under the permanent shelter in Uptown Greenwood.

A ceramic pig decorated with stickers.

South Carolina Festival Of Discovery Schedule

Barbecue vendors will be set up during the entire event.

Thursday, July 11

Blues Cruise: Live music around town from 6 pm to 11 pm at various venues. Check the venues for the full schedule.

Music at the Main Stage: 6 pm to 8:30 pm.

Friday, July 12

Blues Cruise: Live music around town from 11 am to 2 pm at various venues. Check the venues for the full schedule.

Kids Que: From 6 pm to 8 pm, kids ages 6 to 15 compete in a judged barbecue contest at Uptown Market. Entry is $50 and includes the 14-inch charcoal grill, which must be used to cook in the competition.

Kids Zone Rides: Open from 5 pm to 10 pm at Uptown Market. Tickets are $1 or $20 for 25.

Music at the Main Stage: 11 am to 10 pm.

Saturday, July 13

Awards Ceremony: All award winners, including People’s Choice, will be announced at the Main Stage at 5 pm.

Blues Cruise: Live music around town from 11 am to midnight at various venues. Check the venues for the full schedule.

Kids Zone Rides: Open from 10 am to 10 pm at Uptown Market. Tickets are $1 or $20 for 25.

Hot dog eating competition: From noon to 1 pm, South Carolina residents can compete. Entry is $5 and includes a t-shirt and all the hot dogs you can eat in 12 minutes. The winner’s prize is $500 with prizes for second and third place as well.

Music at the Main Stage: 11 am to 10 pm.

People’s Choice: From 10 am to 3 pm, anyone can purchase a ticket for $1 to sample barbecue. For every five tickets purchased, you get one voting ticket to vote for people’s choice.

A brick waterfall at the entrance of The Inn On The Square in Greenwood, SC.

Where to stay for the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery?

If you’re looking for places to stay in the Greenwood area during the South Carolina Festival of Discovery. We stayed at Inn on the Square, which is literally across the street from the main attractions of the Festival of Discovery, so it’s incredibly convenient.

There are a few other nearby hotels for you to choose from:

And don’t forget about The Belmont Inn in nearby Abbeville. It’s a little bit of a drive away, but Abbeville is the cutest quintessential small town. And The Belmont Inn is haunted (and my mom got haunted there), so that’s exciting.

A topiary shaped like a mermaid with the words "South Carolina Festival Of Flowers (Details & Full Schedule)" digitally written above it.

More South Carolina Festivals:

If you’re looking for more annual festivals to check out in The Palmetto State, there are a few good ones that we’ve been to.

For more barbecue, nearby Abbeville hosts the Hogs & Hens Festival every October.

Greenwood also hosts the SC Festival Of Flowers in June, which, if you like flowers, you need to put that festival on your calendar. You also want to put the Iris Festival, which is the oldest festival in South Carolina, in Sumter, SC, on your calendar as well. That happens every Memorial Day Weekend.

Have you been to the South Carolina Festival Of Discovery? Let us know your favorite parts in the comments.