LANCASTER — Special to the Fort Mill Times
Do you know how wool from Alpacas becomes the sweater you love to wear? Ever wondered about the chemistry that goes into the art of brewing craft ales? When you are raking pine straw, do you think about weaving baskets? Have any idea how to identify your favorite tomatoes and squash on the vine?
The answers to all these questions and at least a million more will be found at 25 locations around Lancaster County from Indian Land to Heath Springs June 22-23.
From down on the farm to down on Main Street, arts meet agriculture with home-grown experiences for every member of the family. It is no secret that agritourism is becoming one of the most popular forms of destination travel because of its ability to provide a bridge between rural and urban dwellers. And visitors will not be disappointed with the combination of farm-rich and culturally-enriched sites to explore on a county-wide trek of highways and byways.
A partnership of Clemson Extension, Olde English District Tourism Commission, Lancaster Agribusiness Center, Lancaster County Council of the Arts, and See Lancaster, the Ag+Art Tour is a celebration of the agricultural and cultural riches that make Lancaster County unique. Even though official hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday, select sites will have exceptions and many have designated times for “not to be missed” activities.
Beginning Thursday, June 20, visitors can pick up “passports” with site details, along with schedules of events at any tour location and get set for a full weekend of fun.
Those who love arts, will find everything they are looking for on the tour. The following arts locations will be open both days of the tour, so plan accordingly to discover why so many folks visit Lancaster’s thriving arts scene.
Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio, with its eclectic gallery and surprising private garden will have works by artists from local to national and feature nature photographer/ALS advocate Angelo Sciulli and folk artist Arnette Majied. Expect to see demonstrations in pottery making, blacksmithing and metal sculpting. Chastain’s Studio Lofts features original art by local and regional artists: painting, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, wood turnings, and fiber arts, with painting and pottery demos both days. Gallery 102 features local and regional works from folk to fine art and will have painting, lapidary and crochet demonstrations and will open Sunday at 9 a.m. Mahaffee’s Pottery Studio will have students working on their projects, raku and pottery wheel demos.
Open on Saturday only, in the Elgin area, Bailey’s Pottery Studio features folk art pottery, while just across the road Elginwood Farms plans an “artisan market” with woodcraft, mixed media designs, photography, jewelry, floral design, pine straw baskets, handmade soaps, along with demonstrations. The Lancaster County Council of the Arts’ galleries at the Springs House will be open on Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with the Red Rose Photography exhibit and including from 2-5 p.m., live music with food and beer pairings.
Other sites open on Saturday only are #9 Lumber & Crafts, with a working sawmill, features wood crafts and locally made crafts and products and Picture Perfect’s small gallery, which is large on talent with exhibits by local artists.
Downtown locations with historical significance that will open both days are the Lancaster County Welcome Center and Museum with a wide array of local artists’ works alongside museum exhibits that include wall drawings dating to the 1800s. In the galleries of the Native American Studies Center is the world’s largest collection of Catawba pottery and demonstrations include dance, drumming, flute, weaving, and pottery. Just north of town, Andrew Jackson State Park offers orchard, herb garden, schoolhouse, and museum tours with artisans and even hula hooping. In the pastoral community of Van Wyck, The Ivey Place will offer tours of their historical farm house and buildings, guest cottage, gardens and grounds. On Sunday, you can explore and celebrate the past at stops opening just for the day, such as the Cultural Arts Center at the Olde Lancaster Presbyterian Church with Quilt Guild exhibits and demos, cemetery tours and hammered dulcimer player.
Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm and Historic Craig House, boasts beautiful gardens, historic homes and buildings, hiking trails, and impressive art collections. Wade-Beckham House will have artisans on hand with everything from jewelry to photography, including celebrity artist Paige Duke. Another Sunday location open for tours is Coker Ranch, where purebred Black Angus cattle are raised.
And what would an Ag+Art Tour be without a bountiful offering of growers, markets, and fresh-from-the farm products? On Saturday, visitors can shop for works by artisans and craftsmen while stocking up on locally grown fruits and vegetables! Plan to stop by the farm stands in Heath Springs and Lancaster, the Lancaster Agribusiness Center, Griff’s Greenhouse, the Lancaster County Farmers and Artisans Market, Lancaster Community Garden, and Provisions by Sandy Creek Herb Company for a “taste” of Lancaster County.
Those who are looking for unique experiences, Benford Brewery promises to deliver – both on Saturday and Sunday. The county’s only micro-brewery invites visitors to view the entire brew process and sample the various brew recipes – not something you are likely to see every day.
The tour is free on both days, but visitors should note a small entrance fee for Andrew Jackson State Park. For those who want to start the fun early, a special kick-off event is planned for Friday, June 21, at noon at The Ivey Place with music by Susan Vinson Sherlock, a summer picnic lunch, and historical home and gardens tour. Tickets to this opening event are $15 per person and should be purchased by June 14. For more information call 803-289-1492 or go to AgandArtTourLC.com.