FORT MILL — At the South Carolina Strawberry Festival each year, tens of thousands of people flock to Walter Y. Elisha Park. They crowd around the food vendors and rides, and they flock to the pig races. They go to the Strawberry Queen Pageant and pick their own strawberries before settling in the watch the movie on Pick n’ Flick night.
And at every event is Mayor Danny Funderburk, in his red polo shirt carrying a walkie talkie, with a huge smile on his face. He greets people he knows and introduces himself to those he doesn’t.
He’s at every Strawberry Festival event, every Christmas tree lighting, every event held at the Veteran’s Park and at every town council meeting. In between meeting and greeting, he’s solving town problems and attending to town business, like finding a new town manager.
Funderburk is the face of Fort Mill and one of its chief decision makers. So in 2012, when Fort Mill racked up superlative after superlative, it seems only fitting that Funderburk should take some of the credit.
In August 2012, Fort Mill was named by Family Circle magazine one of the “10 Best Towns for Families.” The town was chosen from a survey that accounted for “affordable housing, good neighbors, green spaces, strong public schools systems and giving spirits,” according to the magazine.
Funderburk said that the magazine “confirmed for America what Fort Millians have known all along.”
More honors were heaped on the town in December when BusinessWeek named Fort Mill the best place to raise a family in South Carolina.
Funderburk had to get used to accepting praise for the town in 2012. In addition to the magazine honors, the town also received an achievement award from the Municipal Association of South Carolina for its marketing plan associated with the S.C. Strawberry Festival.
In 2013, more accolades could be on their way again for the small town led by the smiling mayor who won reelection this year, unopposed. If you stop by the Strawberry Festival this year, keep an eye out for him.