Upstate Lake Living Spring 2017

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12 | Beyond the glitz of sports fishing

54 | South Carolina’s state park gems

18 | Blazing an agricultural trail

60 | Cueing up a cozy mystery

28 | Walk Carolina in your own backyard 36 | Festival built on jazz and the blues

SPRING 2017 Volume 12 • Issue 1

66 | Rebuilt to bring folks together

PUBLISHER Jerry Edwards, 864-882-3272

78 | A classy place with classic meal

EDITOR Brett McLaughlin,

82 | Annual photo contest winners

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87 THEATRE: Follies, funnies, phonies on stage 90 CALENDAR: Events blossom across the Upstate 94 FISHING: Muskie in the mountains 96 YOUR WATERFRONT: Navigating our lakes 98 WATERFALLS: A beautiful stairway

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Dear Readers, Here’s hoping your daffodils have bloomed and your azaleas are hinting that spring is just around the corner. You never know what kind of weather March and April will bring to the Foothills, but you can be pretty well assured the outcome will be something beautiful. We jumped the gun a bit and went on over to the South Carolina Botanical Gardens where Patrick McMillan and his crew have done an amazing job turning the gardens into all things South Carolina. Particularly awesome is the Natural Heritage Garden. Even before the first buds of spring had burst forth, the trail through the garden was wonderful … taking us on an historical adventure from the barrier islands to the Upstate mountain coves. We hope our story inspires you to make that journey. Bill Bauer, meanwhile, spent some time down on the farm, collecting the fascinating history of one of the Upstate’s oldest farming families. It’s a great story about the rugged and innovative individuals who produce food for our tables. And, you can’t have “Lake Living” without the lakes. So, in this edition we invite you to join us in getting to know just a few of the many professional bass fishermen who call the Upstate home. They’re an intriguing lot whose lives involve far more than just casting lures. Looking ahead, we hope to introduce some new features. 10 ‹ UPSTATE LAKE LIVING

However, that will be entirely up to you. We all know that lake life involves a lot of good food and great times. So, we are asking for seasonal recipes for both food and drink. Our next edition comes out just in time for summer, so we’re inviting you to email us that one recipe that has brought your lakeside visitors to their collective knees. Or, if you’d rather, send us the ingredients for the best summer cocktail you’ve ever tasted. If we get enough food and drink favorites, we’ll share them this June. And, as we all know, many of the folks who live on these lakes came here from somewhere else. We would love to receive old-time photos from where you lived. Even if this was home, please browse those family albums. If you have an interesting snapshot from the ’20s or ’30s or right on through the ’60s, scan it and email it to us. Please provide us names for any folks that you know in the pictures and be sure to scan the photos in high resolution if you can. If you want to send us an original, that’s fine. Just be sure we have a return address. The email to use is: The mailing address is: The Journal, 210 W. N. 1st St., Seneca, SC 29678. Be sure to note that it is for “Lake Living.” Enjoy the beauty of an Upstate spring, and we’ll be back just in time for summer.

Brett McLaughlin, editor

ART DIRECTOR/GRAPHICS Melissa Bradley, CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS EDITION Bill Bauer • Rex Brown • Phillip Gentry Vince Jackson • Dave Kroeger Brett McLaughlin COVER PHOTO Russell Carlson, Keowee Key, submitted in the 2016 Upstate Lake Living Photo Contest

The Journal UPSTATE LAKE LIVING™ is published quarterly by The Journal 210 W. N. 1st Street , Seneca, SC 29678, USA Ph: 864-882-2375, Fax: 864-882-2381 Mail subscription: $40 includes 4 issues Single issue: $4.95, available at The Journal office U.S. Postal Permit #18 UPSTATE LAKE LIVING™ is a trademark of Edwards Group. Contents copyrighted. SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE Upstate Lake Living, upon receipt of a new or renewal subscription, will strive to provide first-copy delivery of Upstate Lake Living to the Postal Service for the next issue (March, June, September and December). Renewals must be received at least two weeks prior to expiration to assure continued service. Address subscription inquiries to: UPSTATE LAKE LIVING, P.O. Box 547, Seneca, SC 29679; phone 864-882-2375; fax 864-882-2381. Two weeks advance notice is required for address changes; please send old and new address.

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NO LAZY DAYS ON THE LAKES Pro anglers work at other people’s hobby story by Brett McLaughlin


{at left} Bassmaster Elite angler Casey Ashley prepares for the first day of the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell. “Conditions were absolutely brutal,” Ashley said of the below-freezing temperatures anglers endured throughout the tourney. {below} Since winning bass fishing’s biggest title on Feb. 22, 2015, Ashley’s life has been a whirlwind. “Nothing can prepare you for a Classic win … You think you have an idea of what’s fixing to happen, but you don’t,” he said. Photo courtesy of Woods and Water S


olksy fishermen, flipping a rig out there and snagging themselves a lunker; haulin’ a monster bass aboard while the camera rolls and the co-angler falls all over himself complimenting the pro’s choice of the perfect lure. It all looks so easy … so fun … so “Whycan’t-I-do-that-for-a-living?” Talk to the men who actually do it for a living, and you’ll quickly learn there is a lot more to fishing for a living than meets the camera’s eye. South Carolina is a hotbed for professional anglers. From the Bass Fishing League, to the Fishing League Worldwide to the Bassmaster Elite Series, professional fishing rosters are dotted with men who grew up prowling the waters of South Carolina, particularly the unique wa-

ters of the Upstate. “A lot of good fishermen come out of our area,” said Casey Ashley of Donalds, arguably one of the big names on the circuit having won the Bassmaster Classic in 2015 and a favorite to win it again when the tour’s premiere event returns to Lake Hartwell in spring 2018. “I think part of that is because our lakes are so versatile. You never know what you’re going to get from the water level — full pool, 5, 10 or 20 feet down … it’s always changing — to the color of the water.” “People around here don’t realize it, but we have some of the best lakes in the country,” added Liberty-based Jayme Rampey, who loves his life as a FLW professional. “Keowee is a premiere lake and Hartwell is just phenomenal.” Brandon Cobb of Greenwood and Brian Latimer of Belton, both of whom are on back on the FLW circuit with Rampey this spring, hold similar sentiments.

“There are few places you can catch a boatload of 3-pound bass, but Hartwell is one of those places,” said Cobb. “You can find places with bigger fish, but 20 to 40 healthy fish a day — you just don’t find that.” “Things happen when you are fishing the Upstate lakes that just don’t happen anywhere else,” said Latimer. “There are so many ways to catch a fish in these lakes.” Hartwell, Murray, Keowee and countless smaller lakes were the playgrounds for each of these fishermen as they were growing up. Casting along the shorelines for bass or working the deep waters was what they did, each with his father, and all with a yearning to someday do it for a living. “When I was in the fourth grade, I did a book report on professional fishing as the job I wanted to have when I grew up,” Ashley says on his website. “It’s the only career I’ve ever wanted. SPRING 2017 › 13

{at top} Fishing on what would be considered his “home lake,” Lake Hartwell, Casey Ashley hoists the trophy for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, further propelling him to stardom on the professional fishing scene. Photos courtesy of Woods and Water SC {at right} A second-generation tournament fisherman, last year was Brian Latimer’s first full year on the tour, and he said traveling the Southeast provided quite a learning curve. Photo courtesy of


In January of 2006, Ashley officially began his campaign to make it as a pro angler. He teamed up with fellow Carolinians Marty Robinson and Jason Williamson and headed for Lake Okeechobee to fish what was then the Bass Fishing League’s Strand Series (now Coastal Series). He actually led the event after the first day, but eventually finished 17th, which only fueled his fishing fire. Two weeks later he scored his first win at the Southern Open. “After that event I entered all five of the 2006 B.A.S.S. Opens and ended up qualifying for the 2007 Elites,” he said. “I finished fourth in the last Open that year and won a boat, which paid for my deposits into the Elites.” Ashley later won the Elite Series event on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia, a win that put him ahead of the game financially and secured him a spot in his first Classic, the 2008 event on Lake Hartwell. Before he would realize that dream, however, he had a chance at another career that thousands dream of but few ever realize. During the 2007 season, Ashley volunteered to sing the National Anthem at takeoff. It caught the ear of famous songwriter Rodney Clawson, who was fishing the event as a co-angler. Eventually, Clawson wrote a song called “Fisherman” about the pro fishing lifestyle that Ashley recorded as a single. In 2011, the pair teamed up again to record a demo CD of six songs entitled Released. “It’s hard to chase two dream careers down at once,” Ashley writes on his website. “I love to sing, and I love music, but if I had somebody telling me where to be and what time

Brandon Cobb says fishing is a singular sport, and it often is as FLW fishermen cruise the lakes on the circuit, learning 100 percent of the time while trying to build their resumes. Photo courtesy of Woods and Water SC

to be there all the time, day after day, I just wouldn’t enjoy it anymore. I don’t like people telling me what to do. That’s why I fish for a living, and I’m out there on a boat by myself.” Ashley went on to finish 17th in that 2008 Bassmaster Classic, and the event still haunts him. “If I had one tournament to do over again, it would be the 2008 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell. I was so young and new; I wish I could have that one back to fish now,” he said. But the event laid the foundation for his second Classic performance on Hartwell in 2015 … the event of his career. “A lot of people have asked me when did I first start practicing for the 2015 Classic,” he said. “And the honest answer to that is, seven years ago at my first Classic. Since they had record crowds at that event, I knew B.A.S.S. would eventually come back to Hartwell, and I vowed to get it right when they returned.” Since winning bass fishing’s biggest title on Feb. 22, 2015, the 33-year-old’s life has been a whirlwind. “Nothing can prepare you for a Classic win,” he explains on the website. “You think you have an idea of what’s fixing to happen, but you don’t. Actually, the day after I won was somewhat quiet. But looking back, I realize that was just the calm before the storm.” Although he still has goals as a professional fisherman — to fish four or five more Classics and earn “Angler of the Year” honors — Ashley has learned to pace himself. “I love fishing; it’s my passion,” he said, “but you have to take a break, even from things you love. Stepping away not only allows you to rest, it makes you hungry to get back to it.”




Brandon Cobb unhooks a catch during one of the FLW tournament events. “I can’t imagine any other job, and it is a job,” he said. “I plan to do it as long as I can.” Photo courtesy of Woods and Water SC

Chasing the dream In their own way, Rampey, Latimer and Cobb are also chasing the dream of fishing the Elite Series. Rampey is a FLW enthusiast who is stepping away from the regular FLW tour this year to fish the Elite qualifiers. “FLW is the grassroots side of fishing, and it’s great,” he said. “It’s more family-oriented and, with sponsor money, you can make a living, but the big sponsor money just isn’t there.” That’s why he balances fishing with running his Southern Dreamscapes landscaping business in Liberty and spending quality time with his family. “The family does some of the local tournaments, but I don’t want to drag them all over the country,” he said, noting that he has another baby due this month and is building a house. “It’s a good year to fish the Elites.” Ironically, Rampey said he opened his business to have more time to fish. But, with three crews to supervise, he is committed to the business. “You have to keep the dollars flowing in,” 16 ‹ UPSTATE LAKE LIVING

he said. “Landscaping is guaranteed money … fishing is not.” But, he loves to fish and he always wants to do better. “You have to have the shortest memory,” he said. “You have to forget from one tournament to the next. You have to forget what happened on Thursday and fish on Friday. “It’s a good time, but you are gone a lot,” he said with a hint of remorse. “On a single tournament I can be gone from Friday through the next Sunday, spending 15 to 16 hours on the road and sleeping for three. It’s fun, but it isn’t all glamour.” Cobb, 27, said he’s been fishing for as long as he can remember, starting with his dad and never looking back. “I can’t imagine any other job, and it is a job,” he said. “I plan to do it as long as I can.” He enjoys the FLW, but refers to it as a resume-builder. The schedule suits him, and he enjoys the people he meets. Still, fishing is a singular sport and Cobb said he is working on slowing down, controlling his emotions and taking more time. “My goals have changed a lot,” he said.

“I’m more process, not results, oriented. Oh, sure, I still want to win, be in the top 10 and make the year-end tournament, but I’m trying to ignore the things that go wrong, keep a positive attitude and stay on course.” Latimer agrees that fishing is a lot more than just knowing what lure to use or where to aim the boat. A second-generation tournament fisherman, last year was his first full year on the tour, and he said traveling the Southeast provided quite a learning curve. “You don’t just decide one day to be a pro fisherman. There are a lot of details and struggles. It’s a lot of work, and you have to put the hours in,” he said, noting that he just missed the cut to fish for the cup last season. Unlike Rampey, who puts bad days and events in his rearview mirror, Latimer said he actually analyzes his bad outings. “You learn from a bad tournament … to have good ones,” he said. “You take those experiences on the water and adjust. Heck, I’m even writing things down when I think of them at dinner.” His goal? A breakthrough.

“One really strong tournament can be a life-altering event,” he said. “Getting that one breakthrough tournament is what keeps me going.” n The Woods and Waters photos accompanying this article were provided by Roger Metz, president of SCOPe (South Carolina Outdoor Press Association) and host of Woods and Waters radio show, which airs on 94.5 WGTK in Greenville, 3-4 p.m. on Saturdays. Also assisting with this article was Neil Paul, director of Visit Anderson, an organization that works closely with and serves as a sponsor for, FLW pros Brian Latimer and Brandon Cobb, as well as Bassmaster Elite, Angler Casey Ashley.

{at top} Jayme Rampey balances fishing with running his own landscaping business based in Liberty. He loves the lakes, but also enjoys quality time spent with his family. {above} Rampey is a FLW enthusiast, but this year he is stepping away from the regular FLW tour and fishing the Elite qualifiers. It will keep him closer to home and family as he and his wife are expecting another child. Photos courtesy of

SPRING 2017 › 17

Historic Farming Tradition Lives On McPhail family has made its mark on Upstate agriculture

Neil and Gwen McPhail are silhouetted beneath the sign that marks the entrance to their century-old farm near Tokeena Crossing. Photo courtesy of Tokeena Angus Farm



— story by Bill Bauer —

here was a time when cotton was king in the South … a time when thousands of fertile acres were dotted with white cotton blossoms, and hundreds of textile mills turned raw cotton into the fabric that clothed a nation. While most of the cotton production stretched along the I-20 corridor, it was not uncommon for Upstate farmers to try their hand at growing the lucrative crop. However, the emergence of the boll weevil in the 1920s and the Wall Street Crash in 1929 brought cotton production to a screeching halt and sent farmers scrambling to find other ways to use their land. Such was the case for Walter Houlo “WH” McPhail, who farmed an area near Seneca formerly known as Pine Grove.

The Early Years It was a long walk for Houlo from Clemson A&M College to the family farm in Tokeena — the Cherokee name for Pine Grove. He had waited a year to attend college with his brother, Myantola, in the fall of 1921, but in the spring of the following year he decided to drop out, return home and begin the spring planting of cotton on the original 150 acres his father, J.A. McPhail, had purchased back in 1902. “Daddy told Uncle Toy (Myantola) and Uncle Shubert to stay in school and he’d see that the bills were paid,” recalled Houlo’s youngest daughter, Elaine. Indeed, both brothers completed college and taught for the cooperative extension service. Myantola developed the trademark McPhail Fly Trap that is still used today. Houlo grew corn, milked cows and raised steers, hens and hogs. Of course, cotton helped pay for his brothers’ schooling and allowed him to purchase several more tracts of land, raising the total acreage of McPhail farms to 368 by the early 1930s. With the purchase of a Black Angus bull in 1936, Houlo established the first registered Angus herd in South Carolina. Cotton was no longer king … at least on the McPhail Angus Farm. 19 ‹ UPSTATE LAKE LIVING

SPRING 2017 › 19

WH, as Houlo came to be known, quickly realized that if the future of the farm was to be in cattle, grass had to be grown in cool weather. In the March 4, 1949, issue of the Anderson Independent, he is described as, “one of the first farmers in upper South Carolina to realize the great possibilities arising from the development of year round pastures and do something about it other than talk!” WH experimented with a new cool season grass called fescue and turned his terraced cotton fields into pasture. Building on the Dream For the McPhails, farming was, is and always will be a way of life. In 2006, the family and several adjoining property owners placed nearly 1,500 acres of farmland into a Conservation Easement. In 2007, the Tokeena Angus Farm was named to the National Register of Historic Places. “This land can never be used for anything but farming and raising cattle until the world ends!” said Neil McPhail, the youngest of WH’s four sons. Together, with his wife, Gwen, they now own and operate Tokeena Angus. “Being on the National Register means that we can repair and reconstruct as needed on the original buildings’ footprints and build within the confines of what is called the ‘home base,’ an area that is pretty small and very specifically delineated,” explained Gwen, the family historian. Located on Pine Grove Road just outside of Fair Play, the property is easily recognized not only by the Black Angus cattle grazing on both sides of the road, but by its dark red buildings, a component of its designation on the National Register.

The purchase of a single Black Angus bull in 1936 marked the beginning of a new adventure for one of Oconee County’s most prestigious farms. It wasn’t long thereafter that WH McPhail converted his terraced cotton fields into pasture land ripe with a “new” cool weather fescue grass that has been a staple of the operation ever since. Photo courtesy of Tokeena Angus Farm


Prize bulls such as this one are the heart and soul of business at Tokeena Angus. Photo courtesy of Tokeena Angus Farm

Gwen initially researched deeds and tax records, and even hired an architectural historian to affirm the historical accuracy of stories about the buildings. That research led to a Century Farm designation, meaning that it has been in one family for over 100 years. “Several of the building sites dated back to the 1800s, and what we now use as a cattle shed to give the bulls some relief from the sun was once used to raise mail-order chicks into either laying hens or a chicken feast for the crew of threshers that came to harvest crops,” she said. The auction barn is actually on the foundation site of the school that WH attended as a young boy. Among the buildings built around the turn of the century and listed as part of the Historic Registry are two tenant houses, a corn crib, a chicken coop, a mule and cattle barn and a fertilizer/truck shed. The McPhail House, now Elaine’s home, was built in 1943 with pines cut in the grove behind the old schoolhouse. Not to miss an opportunity, and to complete the home, WH purchased a package home from the loading dock in Fair Play that someone had bought and couldn’t pay for. Pure Lines The farm was named Tokeena Angus in 1976 when WH retired and Walter, Floyd and


Steve McPhail returned to run the operation. “Everyone in the family helped on the farm, raised cattle and showed cattle, with several of WH’s children and grandchildren winning prize money that helped pay for their college education,” said Gwen. “But at one point all four boys worked the farm.” The three oldest brothers all had successful careers off the farm. Walter sold farm chemicals, Steve sold real estate and Floyd worked in sales for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Neil, who was 11 years younger, remained on the farm, eventually becoming the sole owner of the cattle herd. “It didn’t matter what they did. They were always involved one way or the other in farming,” noted Gwen, who met Neil when she signed on to manage the hog side of the farm following her graduation from Clemson with a degree in animal science. Tokeena Angus strives to be as self-sustaining as it can. Row crops are planted for feed. Two chicken houses provide manure to help produce the feed used to raise prize, performance-tested bulls that are sold once a year as purebred seed stock. The McPhails also auction cows and heifers, some bought back from previous customers at a premium to give others an opportunity to buy top quality commercial genetics from people who have used Tokeena bulls and have been satisfied with the results.

SPRING 2017 › 21

{above} The McPhails brought a little more technology to this year’s annual auction, putting cattle in outdoor pens for early viewing and then allowing buyers to stay warm as the animals were auctioned off one-by-one on large screen televisions. Photo by Bill Bauer • {opposite page} Gwen McPhail says everyone wants a warm meal when weather like this sets in, and the bulls and cows at Tokeena Angus Farm aren’t any different, crowding around as new hay is brought out. Photo courtesy of Tokeena Angus Farm

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SUMMER 2015 › 22

The herd is forage fed and hormone free. As for the chicken houses, “The gravy is on the floor,” Gwen said, referring to the manure used to fertilize the barley, oats and wheat that comprise the farm’s cattle feed. There is constant monitoring of the cattle diet, and each bull is given an ultrasound to check its rib eye size and marbling. Growing the herd requires a combination of both natural and artificial insemination. “We do use artificial insemination, but when we need a new bull, Neil studies the

bloodlines (for the best fit) and brings in new bulls as needed from ranches in Montana, Nebraska and Kansas,” Gwen explained. Pay Day “We only get paid once a year,” said Neil, referring to January 28, the day of this year’s cattle auction. “You can call it Black Friday or Happy Monday.” The auction attracts ranchers from far and near to bid on Tokeena’s performance-tested bulls, purebred cows and cow/calf pairs. It’s

the day the McPhails reap the benefits of a year’s hard work. This year, Tokeena brought technology to the auction. Cattle were in outdoor pens for early viewing and buyers were treated to homemade chili with all the fixin’s before taking a seat in the auction barn. As the auction began each lot appeared on one of three large television monitors while Ken Brubaker, of Brubaker Sales and Marketing, described the attributes of each bull or female. “It’s not as hard on the cattle and not as


SPRING 2017 › 23

There was a white Christmas at Tokeena Angus Farm in 2010, but that didn’t stop buyers from gathering in the auction barn to purchase some of the finest Angus bulls and cows to be found. The sale animals are penned on the lower level. Buyers view them, enjoy some hot chili and coffee in the barn’s grill and then gather in a tiered auction arena at the back of the building. Photo courtesy of Tokeena Angus Farm


hard on the people,” said Brubaker. “It’s a lot easier than moving each lot from outside corrals, through the barn with the crowds and noise of the auction.” Instead, one by one, the cattle appeared on the screen and the bidding was on. By day’s end, over 100 bulls, females, calves and commercial heifers were sold. WH McPhail was only 8 when, with his daddy’s consent, he purchased a yearling heifer, Blue Bell, for a gallon of molasses and 50 cents. Little did he realize it was the beginning of an historic Angus herd that has survived droughts, disease and downturns in the economy. Until his death in 1979, WH remained on the farm, overseeing the operation, cooking barbecue for the auctions and making sure his legacy — purebred Angus cattle grazing in fescue-filled pastures — was intact. Today, thanks to Neil and Gwen, the remaining siblings and the McPhail children and grandchildren, that legacy lives on. What lies ahead? “You’ll probably find us one day toes up in the manure,” Gwen quipped. n

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Stay home while hiking the state

Spring is perfect time to view natural history at SC Botanical Garden story by Brett McLaughlin | photos courtesy of SC Botanical Garden

Walking along a boardwalk much like one would find in the coastal regions of South Carolina, visitors enter a longleaf pine savanna where the diversity of wildflowers is second to none. Habitats such as this are the only places in the world where many fantastic plants, including the Venus flytrap, can be found. Along the way, a special viewing area has been created for children to enjoy some 25 species of carnivorous plants native to the Carolinas.



s you have watched the sun set on the horizon of Lake Keowee or drop behind the distant edge of Oconee Mountain, have you ever wished there was an easy way to see more of the natural beauty of South Carolina … you know, those places along the coast or in the Piedmont where time and circumstance have never allowed you to wander? Well, yearn no more. Over several years, particularly the past three, the South Carolina Botanical Garden has been transforming itself into a living museum where one can simply become lost in the beauty and natural history of the state — from its shoreline to its mountains. At the heart of any visitor’s experience is the Natural Heritage Garden — the state’s largest and most comprehensive collection of plants native to South Carolina. In the hour or two it takes to hike the garden’s trail visitors can walk onto the barrier islands, wander through Longleaf Pine savannas, explore 5,000-yearold shell rings and granite flatrocks and pass through hundreds of carnivorous plants. A boardwalk transports you back 300 years, carrying visitors through an example of the savannas and prairies that dotted the Midlands

and Upstate, eventually emerging into the cool confines of the Jocassee Gorges. “Our primary goal is to get people outside and more connected to the world around them,” said Clemson professor of environmental sustainability and Garden Director Patrick McMillan. “We have made the garden more than just a showpiece for plants,” he continued. “Everything we do eventually ends up being about the lasting impact every one of us has on the world around us forever. It’s about making responsible choices and the connection man has with the rest of the world. “That’s why we say, ‘Throw down a shell and change the world’.” McMillan, whose passion for the environment is now nationwide thanks to his Emmy award-winning PBS television program Expeditions with Patrick McMillan, has been “throwing down shells” at the SCBG since assuming the directorship in 2010. And, while some of the resulting change is unmistakable, such as the gated new entry off Perimeter Road, other changes are more nuanced, such as a new Celtic Garden and development of an African Heritage Garden near the historic Hanover House. “We have five active projects underway, and there will be more after that,” McMillan said as he flipped through the pages of the SCBG master plan earlier this spring.

While some significant changes are planned for the historic focal point of the garden — the duck pond and nearby children’s garden — several projects involve further enhancements to the Natural Heritage Trail, including improved signage directing visitors toward the Fran Hanson Visitor’s Center, the Bob Campbell Geology Museum and the coastal entry to the quarter-mile trail. “We have brought entire habitats — plants, soils, rocks, stones — into the garden at a scale that allows visitors to put themselves in a different place,” he said, walking out of the Geology Museum, through a Jurassic Garden (Walk where Velociraptors walked), and down the hill through a Chihuahuan Desert toward the Alley of Oaks and the entrance of the Heritage Garden. The garden begins where the history of modern South Carolina begins, with a Maritime forest the likes of which would have greeted the first Europeans to land here. Palmettos and Live Oak trees are beginning to flourish as one walks along a boardwalk that skirts the edge of a salt marsh where the primary feature is a Native American shell ring. McMillan explains that by building these calcium-laden rings 5,000 years ago, humans created a habitat for life that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. A Longleaf Pine savanna is next up. In addition to being crucial to the early shipbuild-

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The Carolina Bay exhibit along the Heritage Trail is a small retention pond that has been referred to as the “Leaky Pond” for many years. However, because of its elliptical shape and northwest to southeast orientation, it has been converted into a perfect example of a Carolina Bay. Changing water levels from winter to summer mimic the ecosystem of a natural Carolina Bay — the origins of which remain a scientific mystery.

ing economy of the state, this habitat provides the only place in the world where many fantastic plants, including the Venus flytrap, can be found. Appropriately, an eye-level carnivorous plant exhibit has been built here that allows youngsters to come face-to-face with the plants. Beyond, the trail slopes gently upward toward a 10-acre Piedmont Prairie exhibit. Although one feels as if they might be in Oklahoma, this was once the predominant habitat in South Carolina’s Piedmont. Today, the remnants of the Piedmont Prairies exist mostly along roadways and utility easements, but they still hold a large number of uncommon and distinctive species, many found nowhere else on earth. A Carolina Bay exhibit has been crafted from a retention pond as one moves into the Sandhills that mark the meeting point of the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont. Once the coastline of the prehistoric Atlantic Ocean, the plants found here would be well adapted to grow in deserts. It is also here that McMillan has overseen the construction of a granite outcrop that promotes the existence of some of the most bizarre and rare, yet fragile, species in the Carolinas. Across the bridge one begins a journey into the Upstate. It was in this area that McMillan and his son began building a mountain habitat back in 2010, when funding was practical-

Patrick McMillan

ly non-existent and the staff consisted of two grounds workers. Assisted by student volunteers, the trail was established and thousands of plants were introduced. In 2013, however, a devastating flood washed the entire habitat away. Millions of gallons of water roared through the property, destroying most of what had been accomplished. “It was a curse, but it was also a blessing,” McMillan explained. “While we lost almost all of what we had accomplished, the flood received national attention. Our support soared overnight, and within a year we were able to reinstate all that we had lost. “In the three years since, we have been able to accomplish more than in the previous 20 years combined,” he continued. “Today, we have 17 employees, wonderful support from (the college’s) administration and we’re way ahead of our projections.” And, as the trail has developed and other exhibits have been improved, attendance has

{clockwise from top left} Jackin-the-Pulpit • Barrett Browning Daffodil • Graptopetalum Paraguayense • Delosperma Cooperi

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At one end of the South Carolina Heritage Trail most Upstate residents will feel right at home as the plantings and landscaping depict the mountain region of our state. The pathway that goes by the Hunt Cabin and over this creek descends down, toward the state’s Piedmont region and, eventually, the Coastal Plain.

soared. McMillan said it is not unusual to see 10,000 to 12,000 visitors a day and up to a half-million in a year. The refurbished trail, with its fortified bridges, meanders through Oak-Hickory and Basic Mesic forests before emptying into a Cove forest whose trees and plants provide the day-to-day trappings of life in the Upstate. “If you don’t feel like you are in the mountains here, you’ve never been to the mountains,” McMillan said as he made his way past the Hunt Cabin to the end of the Natural Heritage Trail. Across the road are the duck pond and the entrance to the Children’s Garden, both of which are scheduled for major upgrades in the months ahead, including a canopy walk through the treetops and an interactive botanical maze for youngsters. Several alternate routes back to the Visitor’s Center are available to explore. Along the way one can opt to view a hosta garden with some 400 species, a camellia garden that represents the initial plantings in 1958, the Foothills Garden Club perennial garden and a hydrangea garden that is sure to be in full bloom this spring. Regardless of how one views the garden, whether signs or labels are read or whether the words of an educator are heard, it is likely visitors will experience the living world that is South Carolina. n The South Carolina Botanical Garden is located on the east side of the Clemson University campus. The main entrance is on Perimeter Road, between Highway 76 and Cherry Road. It is open every day, dawn to dusk, free of charge. The Fran Hanson Visitor’s Center and Bob Campbell Geology Museum are open every day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the gardens and touring options, visit: 32 ‹ UPSTATE LAKE LIVING

Starting the Heritage Trail near the Visitor’s Center, one enters a Maritime forest. From the state tree, the palmetto, to the sweetgrass that gained fame in the baskets of Gullah culture, to sea oats that bind the shore against erosion, this is the alpha of South Carolina’s history.

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Horace Littlejohn is pictured tending bar at the Grill in the 1950s. Littlejohn’s Grill was an epicenter of black entertainment in Upstate South Carolina, hosting countless jazz and blues celebrities.


Greater Clemson Music Festival ... A BIRTH OF THE BLUES story by Vince Jackson | photos courtesy of Barry G. Richards



s African-American servicemen streamed home after World War II, a nightclub flourished in Clemson, SC, as the era of segregation known as Jim Crow came to a halt in fits and jerks. Littlejohn’s Grill shined a bright spotlight on black music in the small college town and became famous for good food, quality entertainment and overnight accommodations. Some might say Littlejohn’s Grill was just an unimportant, “colored” juke joint alongside Old Greenville Highway, but others recognize that the Grill, in its day, was an epicenter of black entertainment in Upstate South Carolina. Owned by Horace and Gertrude Littlejohn, the Grill supplied first-class entertainment, hot meals and lodging for African-American performers traveling the Chitlin’ Circuit from the mid-1940s until the late 1960s. Many musicians found it to be a convenient stopover while traveling from the Mississippi Delta to points northward and New York City. Segregation was the law. Blacks could not stay or eat in businesses where they would come in contact with whites. Littlejohn’s Grill became important because it was halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte and was a welcome stopover for black entertainers. Some in the Littlejohn family say Horace may have been the first black man to own a club between Atlanta and Charlotte, a distance of about 250 miles. Accommodations could be scarce if you were black, so places like the Grill provided an Underground Railroad of sorts for people of color traveling the roads of America before integration. Over the years many future jazz and blues greats appeared at Littlejohn’s Grill, honing skills that would take them to the top of the music business. The long and impressive list of jazz and blues celebrities appearing at the club includes; Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Elmore James, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Muddy Waters, Big Joe Turner, Piano Red, Mac Arnold, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, James Brown, comedian Red Foxx and scores of others. By far the most remembered star of Littlejohn’s Grill is James Brown. At age 15, Brown served time for armed robbery and was incarcerated at Boys Camp, a juvenile facility in Toccoa, Ga. After serving three years, Brown was recognized for his good behavior and gospel singing abilities. During his little-known early career in the 1950s, Brown lived only 30 miles from the Grill. Connections he made with entertainers such as Little Richard and Hank Ballard earned him a spot on stage at local clubs, and it wasn’t long before he began fronting a group called The Flames, performing at the Grill on a weekly basis. In 1956, The Flames recorded “Please, Please, Please,ß” and James Brown’s career began to soar into the stratosphere. Crowds were the norm whenever the Grill was operating at full throttle. Oscar Preston was just a teenager when he began selling tickets at the door. “Horace had some kind of arrangement with Atlantic Records. Many of the big

As a teenager, Mac Arnold performed at Littlejohn’s Grill with James Brown and other famous performers. Today, he still performs including at the Greater Clemson Music Festival.

Up to 1,500 people would pack inside and stand outside to enjoy jazz and blues at Littlejohn’s Grill in the ’50s and ’60s. Today, the site on Old Greenville Highway (SC 93) is home to the Littlejohn Community Center.

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214 Wynmere Way $1,180,000 b East Shores Music Festival performer Wanda Johnson, pictured here with the late Chick Willis, was a frequent performer at Littlejohn’s Grill in the 1960s. The emerald waters of Lake Keowee and the Blue Ridge Mountains greet you as you step into the foyer of this inviting home. Immaculate 4 Br/4.5 Ba waterfront home that is minutes from the town of Seneca and Clemson University. Comfortable and elegant living spaces are designed to enjoy stunning lake views throughout every room in the house. Many exciting details including hardwood floors, kitchen keeping room, vaulted ceilings, sun room, two fireplaces, lots of storage and so much more.

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time black performers recorded on Atlantic. Horace would never tell his secret way of getting the major acts to Clemson, but they always came and entertained us,” Preston recalled. Patrons say it was not unusual for 1,500 people to crowd inside and outside the club to see and hear blues and jazz greats invent the music that became rock ‘n’ roll — music that began blurring the strict rules of segregation. Whites visited the club and were ushered into the balcony, while blacks enjoyed the performers on the main floor. David Patterson remembers a night in the ’50s when Little Richard and Fats Domino performed together. “They had two pianos back-to-back, and Fats and Little Richard took turns playing their hit songs. I could not get in for the crowd, but I am tall and stood at the door to see the performance. It was so loud it scared me. I had never seen anything like that before. It was a racially mixed audience that night,” he said. After Horace Littlejohn’s death in 1968, the Grill went into decline and eventually closed its doors. Many well-known performers passing through the club during its heyday later said the Grill helped make them big stars. The buildings that were the Grill were torn down in the mid-’90s and the club faded from memory. Today, the Grill is the inspiration for the Greater Clemson Music Festival, an event that now encompasses 10 days of musical performances featuring some of the original Littlejohn’s Grill artists. Proceeds from the event benefit several local charities. Vince Jackson came to Clemson in 1989 and heard stories about James Brown and other musicians performing at the Grill. After he wrote a newspaper feature about the club, people began contacting him with more information. He soon had enough material to write a book: The Littlejohn’s Grill Story: Blues, Jazz and Rock ‘n’ Roll in Clemson, SC.


Blues and More


he 2017 version of the Greater Clemson Music Festival will be held April 20-30 at multiple venues throughout Oconee and Pickens counties, offering attendees their choice of music ranging from blues, to jazz, to country. Ever since a small group of people with a keen interest in blues music organized the first event in 2011 — the Greater Clemson Blues Festival — the event has been growing in both form and substance. This year’s event not only features 10 days of fantastic music, but a host of cultural events, including historic tours. Originally known as the Nothin’ But the BluesFest, held over a three-day weekend, organizers quickly realized the event needed to encompass more than just blues. Since that time jazz, rock, reggae, gospel and country have been added to the musical fare.

Talented drummer Tez Sherard is a mainstay of the Music Festival. While primarily playing in Edwin McCain’s band, Sherard also plays with several different groups.

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This year’s festivities kick off on April 20 with an invitation-only event at Clemson Downs featuring the Wanda Johnson Band, but it quickly turns public on Friday with a free event in Six Mile and a ticketed concert at the Westminster Music Hall. The Six Mile Swing (4-7 p.m.) will feature the New Horizons Jazz Orchestra, Conservation Theory (bluegrass and Americana) and the Snopes Family Band (New Orleans jazz and rock). Meanwhile, the 7:30 p.m. event in Westminster will feature the singing, song-writing and story-telling talents of Michael Reno Harrell. Ticket information is available at: Saturday, April 21, is a full day with The Carousers performing swing, Cajun and gypsy music and The Lionz of Zion reggae band lighting up the stage at Hagood Mill outside of Pickens. Meanwhile, the Central Railroad Festival will be in full swing and, beginning at 4 p.m., The Wobblers, Atlanta’s Boss 429 and Soul Ripple will be performing free on Main Street in Central. The first full weekend comes to a close on April 23 with a free concert at CATbus headquarters in Clemson. Featured from 4-6 p.m. will be the Carl Neil Duo with jazz and Irish folk music, featuring

guitar and fiddle. The following week will feature: • Monday, April 24 – “Lainee” Garrett and the Sonny Thornton Jazz Combo will perform a ticketed event at Clemson Little Theater’s Cox Hall in Pendleton; 7 p.m. • Wednesday, April 26 – Local bands will perform in a jam session format at 22 Below (formerly the Red Minnow).

• Thursday, April 27 – The Greater Clemson Music Festival joins with Jazz on the Alley in Ram Cat Alley in Seneca from 6:30-9 p.m. featuring The Snopes Family Band. • Friday, April 28 – The high-energy, Motown and oldies group, The Voltage Brothers will perform a ticketed event at the small arena at Clemson University’s T. Ed Garrison Complex; call 864.650.0585 for reservations. • Saturday, April 29 – Clemson’s own Paula Harris will be featured at a jazz and blues fundraiser event for Pickens County Meals on Wheels at the McKissick Center for Senior Wellness, 349 Edgemont Ave. in Liberty. For tickets contact Meals on Wheels at 864.855.3770 or email: meta@pcmow. org. • Sunday, April 30 – A joint event with Clemson United Methodist Church will feature an old-time gospel sing featuring Wanda Johnson and Friends. n

Local musicians such as Tony Tidwell frequently perform at the Greater Clemson Music Festival.

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story by Brett McLaughlin

o Carolina bucket list is complete without a visit to Banner Elk, NC. Whether you are looking for a fun place to break out of the winter doldrums, or wait to escape what promises to be another sultry South Carolina summer, you need to plan a getaway to this High Country gem. Located 3,700 feet up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, spring blooms a little later than it does in the Upstate but, when the trillium blossoms and the rhododendrons blanket the mountainsides, you won’t regret the easy three-hour drive it takes to reach this little slice of paradise. Similarly, with an average July-August temperature of 77 degrees, Banner Elk will provide a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of a South Carolina summer. And, if leaving your stress and responsibilities behind by climbing into the mountains isn’t reason enough, Banner Elk has mastered the art of offering both family-friendly activities and low-key getaways. Add to that its reputation as “the culinary hotspot of the High Country,” and a stay of two, three or even four days just seems like the right thing to do. Although the town boasts a population of only 1,067, it has become a summer haven for thousands, many of them first attracted to Banner Elk’s thriving culinary scene, which resembles that of much larger cities.

Sorrento’s Italian Bistro in downtown Banner Elk is a thirdgeneration eatery that specializes in prized family recipes, including tortellini Sorrento, cheese pasta with prosciutto and basil in a tomato-cream sauce. Photo by Todd Bush

{opposite page, at top} Mike Dunn is a fixture, and the food at his deli is a favorite among locals. The former Washington D.C. resident escaped to Western North Carolina years ago and has never looked back despite the rigors of running a B&B and deli. • {at bottom} The Banner Elk Café is so popular with both summer visitors and winter ski enthusiasts that it has grown from one small eatery to two restaurants and an ice-cream shop, all connected by four outdoor or covered patios. Photos by Todd Bush

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“You can get a cheeseburger or you can enjoy a five-star meal,” said Nancy Owen, Tourism DevelopTravelers can view a ment Authority coordinator. comprehensive website covering “There’s something for everylodging, restaurants, events, one whether you like Italian, Mexican, American, Cajun attractions and things to do in or just want to go get panBanner Elk at cakes or a deli sandwich.” The site focuses on providing If it’s the latter you’re incomplete, detailed listings of terested in, you need to lodging options, from cabins find Mike Dunn, owner to condo vacation rentals, and of Dunn’s Deli and Perry House Bed & Breakfast. also the myriad of activities Dunn escaped Washington’s available to visitors. There’s also Beltway 15 years ago and has information about the town’s never looked back. Today, thriving food scene. he serves up hearty breakfasts and heaping specialty sandwiches to a flock of regulars and tourists fortunate enough to stop by. If authentic Cajun cuisine beckons, Louisiana Purchase Food & Spirits and Bayou Smokehouse and Grill await. For 34 years Louisiana Purchase has been chef-owned, and today you will find owner Patrick Bagbey in the kitchen while his wife, Laurie, greets guests at the door. Genuine gumbo and jambalaya are

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Visitors to Apple Hill Farm will have an opportunity to get up close and personal with alpacas, donkeys, horses, goats, chickens and even pet pig Mr. Pickles. Here, farm owner Lee Rankin introduces just one of her favorites. Photo by Brett McLaughlin

Nina Fischesser (center) is director of the wildlife rehabilitation center at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk. The facility is the only one of its kind in the country, offering students an opportunity to help some 1,400 injured birds and animals each year. Photo by Justin Reich

among the specialties, or you may want to try the blackened mountain trout, a local fish with a Cajun twist. Louisiana Purchase has received the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine annually since 1994. At Sorrento’s Italian Bistro in downtown, third-generation chefs specialize in prized family recipes, including tortellini Sorrento, a cheese pasta with prosciutto and basil in a tomato-cream sauce that is sure to bring you back for a second visit.

Also downtown is the Banner Elk Café, a local gem that is so popular with both summer visitors and winter ski enthusiasts that it has grown from one small eatery to two restaurants and an ice-cream shop, all connected by four outdoor or covered patios. At one place or another there is always great food, ranging from eggs benedict to big, juicy burgers, to ribs, steaks and fish. It’s here you will also find the best Bloody Mary or Cadillac Margarita in town.

For authentic Cajun cuisine Louisiana Purchase Food & Spirits is the place for diners like the satisfied couple pictured here to go. Owner Patrick Bagbey has been overseeing the kitchen while wife, Laurie, has been greeting guests at the door since 2000. Photo by Todd Bush

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No trip to Banner Elk is complete, however, without at least one fine dining experience, and the most popular venue for that is Artisanal. Owners Bill and Anita Greene opened 12 years ago, but moved Artisanal to the grounds of Diamond Creek Golf Club in 2009. While the golf club is private, the restaurant is public and inviting with a rustic barn-style construction patterned after The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. It is in this setting that Bill creates unique dishes with fresh ingredients that Anita oversees serving by a simply stellar wait staff. Seafood arrives daily, and fresh fish is a key component of a unique and varied menu. One supplier of other local ingredients is Springhouse Farm where certain items are grown specifically for Artisanal. “People are really into food these days,” Anita said. “They want a product they can feel good about, that’s made fresh. “Bill and I push ourselves,” she continued. “Service is a huge part of what we do; we want to exceed expectations. We are an expensive restaurant, but we want people to feel like they got what they paid for.”


{above} Swimming, fishing and boating are available at Wildcat Lake, a 13-acre public lake in Banner Elk. Photo by Craig Distl {below} Wine from local vineyards and craft beers have taken hold in Western North Carolina. Brewer Billy Smith offers this sampler in the Sky Bar atop Beech Mountain. Kegs of locally produced ale are brought to the lofty bar via the ski resort’s chairlift. Live music, yoga classes and Sunday brunch are also offered atop the mountain. Photo by Brett McLaughlin

Something for everyone And, for all the great food these and other restaurants offer, Banner Elk is not all about food. “We have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a thrill or you would just like to walk along the brick sidewalks downtown,” Owen said. Banner Elk is known regionally for its shops, carrying everything from gifts and home décor to fine art and jewelry. And, while browsing through downtown, one can interactively enjoy the town’s “Go Ahead, Play Me” project. Six pianos, all painted with various themes, encourage passersby to take a minute and tickle the ivories. The pianos are available throughout the summer, filling downtown with spontaneous, joyful chords of all kinds. The Banner Elk Greenway starts downtown in Tate-Evans Park. The trail is more than a mile long, offering rest areas and workout options along the way. It also provides a convenient corridor from town to nearby Lees-McRae College (See accompanying story.), where professional actors perform three plays each summer and visitors are welcome to stop by the only wildlife rehabilitation center on a college campus in the country. From hummingbirds to bobcats and deer, the center treats some 1,400 annually. Three clinical presentations are offered weekly, and visitors are also urged to enjoy one of three self-guided walking tours through a rare college arboretum project. An extension of the Greenway continues on for quite a distance, going beyond the city limits and taking one near the Banner House Museum, the circa 1870 home of Samuel Banner, one of five Banner brothers who helped settle the area beginning in 1848. Members of the Banner family lived in the home into the 1970s but, today it houses a fine collection of artifacts that help tell the story of the area’s early beginnings. Swimming, fishing and boating take place at Wildcat Lake, a 13acre public lake that visitors often say reminds them of an old-fashioned swimming hole.


story by Brett McLaughlin

Every turn in the road reveals something you may never have seen before. That’s part of life at Lees-McRae College, a quaint, 4-year school nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. It’s also one reason Upstate resident Austin Anderson didn’t have to think twice when an opportunity arose to attend this historic school. A standout basketball player at Wren High School, Anderson played three years at Presbyterian College before taking his talents north. “Coach (Steve) Hardin said you’ll have fun here and, besides, I wanted to win,” he laughed. “I just fell in love with the campus,” he added. “It doesn’t matter if it’s summer or fall, the scenery is vibrant. Not everyone gets to see the world from 3,000 feet.” Lees-McRae blends seamlessly into the community of Banner Elk, NC. Founded in the home of a Presbyterian minister in 1900 to supplement the efforts of the local school district, a boarding school welcomed 14 girls and a teacher that same year. The school was chartered in 1907 and became Lees-McRae College in 1931, taking its name from summer school teacher Elizabeth McRae and benefactor Susanna P. Lees. It has been a 4-year college since 1990. “Everyone knows everybody,” Anderson said. “It feels like a big family.” Lees-McRae bills itself as offering “experimental learning” and “outdoor adventure” in a close-knit community. Located between Sugar and Beech mountains, it advertises that “nature is your campus,” and backs that up with a host of classes focusing on the environment, as well as activities ranging from ski and snowboarding teams to a competition climbing club. The 460-acre school may be best recognized for its

nursing program, but it also features the only wildlife rehabilitation center on a college campus, treating 1,400 animals a year, ranging from hummingbirds to bobcats and deer. It is the first private college in the country to apply for arboretum status, devoting 70 acres that feature three self-guided walking tours. As for Anderson, he made the most of his one year at Lees-McRae. Before graduating with a psychology degree in December, he was named Conference Carolina Player of the Year, leading his team to 16 wins. He scored in double figures in 24 of the team’s 28 games, draining 64 3-point fieldgoals. Oh, and he met a girl.

{at top} Located some 3,500 feet above sea level, Lees-McRae College is nestled between Sugar and Beech mountains in Western North Carolina. A 70acre arboretum on the campus offers three selfguided walking tours. Photo courtesy of Jordan Nelson Photography •{above} Austin Anderson only needed to see the Lees-McRae campus once to know that’s where he wanted to play basketball and study his senior year of college. The Anderson County native said the air may be thin at 3,500 feet, but the scenery of the historic campus is unmatched. Photo by Lees-McRae student Sammy Croft

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Throughout downtown Banner Elk visitors will find six pianos that they are invited to play. The pianos, decorated by local students and residents, have proven to be popular family attractions. Photo courtesy of Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce

About five miles northeast of downtown, Apple Hill Farm welcomes visitors for tours year-round. Alpacas, donkeys, horses, goats, chickens and a pet pig named Mr. Pickles reside on the 42-acre farm that has been operated by Lee Rankin since 2001.

Banner Elk is located in the heart of the High Country. Other nearby attractions include Grandfather Mountain, where visitors can traverse the highest suspension footbridge in the country, and Beech Mountain where, at 5,506 feet one can visit Fred’s General Mercantile — “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it” — or enjoy a cold craft beer at the Sky Bar atop the mountain while looking left into Tennessee or right into Virginia. While you can enjoy any of the 8,000 bottles of wine in the Artisanal cellar, the Banner Elk area is ripe with both fine wineries and craft beer breweries. The short growing season and early frosts favor hybrid grapes, and those are used to produce some truly unique and tasty wines. To enhance your trip to Banner Elk be sure to take in one of the concerts in the park featured throughout the summer. With newlyweds being introduced, birthday wishes being sung to unsuspecting celebrants, a former school principalturned pastor shooting T-shirts into the crowd by means of a homemade contraption, and a barefoot singer coaxing patrons to leave their lawn chairs, the Chamber-sponsored events are truly a testimonial to hometown hospitality … and that’s Banner Elk. n

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Diamonds in the rough SC State Parks offer golfing gems story by Bill Bauer | photos courtesy of SC State Park Golf


rom the white sand beaches and offshore ocean breezes on Hunting Island, to the granite outcroppings and towering waterfalls at Caesars Head, South Carolina’s state park system offers 80,000 scenic acres of protected land that is historic and diverse in both culture and landscape. There is almost no limit to the activities that abound at any of the state’s 47 parks — camping, hiking, boating, biking, swimming, fishing, horseback riding; the list goes on and on. Two parks, however, add one more pursuit

— golfing. Hickory Knob State Resort Park on Lake Thurmond and Cheraw State Park near the North Carolina border are home to two Tom Jackson-designed golf courses that are neatly integrated with each park’s distinctly different topography. It has been said about some places, that “You can’t get there from here,” and that might just be the case when describing Cheraw State Park. But that’s what makes it special. Located in the sandhills region of the state’s Olde English Historic District, Cheraw is just a few miles from the quaint town of the same

name, tucked into a triangle bordered by SC Highways 52 and 1. Inside are 17 campsites, 9 cabins, a host of picnic shelters and a golf course that is one of 40 in the country to earn Golf Digest’s highest honor as a “Super Value.” Carved out of a pine forest along the shores of Lake Juniper, the course is void of homes, condos and roads, and is nationally certified by Audubon International for preservation of its wildlife habitats. It blends spectacular golf with natural beauty in a layout so broad that adjacent fairways, generous in landing area

The Cheraw State Park Golf Course offers challenges and beauty for golfers and is considered one of the bestkept secrets in South Carolina.


and neatly defined by dense pines, simply do not exist. Jackson’s design maximizes the area’s naturally level terrain with a combination of inverted grass mounds and pristine sand bunkers. Playing at just less than 7,000 yards from the back tees, Cheraw provides both a challenge and fun. From the first hole, Lady Lupin, to the 18th, American Holly, Cheraw’s manicured 419 Bermuda tees and fairways comprise a blend of moderate left and right doglegs leading to fast and true Tiftdwarf Bermuda greens. “The biggest challenge off the tee is staying away from the fairway bunkers to have a second shot to the green or face a long bunker shot,” explained David “Brick” HyDuke, the PGA professional at Cheraw. The 13th hole, Bracken Fern, bears the signature hole label. It is a demanding par-4 that from any of the tee boxes requires a good drive. Playing from 386 to 492 yards, long hitters can cut a nearly 90-degree dogleg with a risk/reward tee shot. Average players must aim right center leaving a long second shot. Either way, the approach must carry water in front and left of the green and avoid a sizable bunker to the right. “The Cheraw State Park in very unique,” HyDuke said. “We have cabins, campgrounds, nature trails, boat rentals and, of course, the golf course. It’s fun for the whole family.” The cabins are rustic but well appointed with full kitchens, a flat screen television and full bath. Two twin beds, a large futon sofa and a Murphy bed make it ideal for a foursome. Plenty of Water Lake Strom Thurmond is the third largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi and the hub of activities at Hickory Knob State Resort Park. Director of Golf Scott Penland said the lake serves as a defining feature of this Tom Jackson design, its waters either visible or in play on every hole. It

Hickory Knob State Park Golf Course offers golfers a challenging layout on the waters of Lake Thurmond Reservoir.

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is definitely not a course for golfers suffering from hydrophobia! Like its counterpart at Cheraw, Hickory Knob is off the beaten path, but is just a leisurely drive down SC Highway 7 from nearby McCormick. Once inside the gates, Resort Drive winds its way alongside the back nine to the clubhouse about a mile away. The front nine plays toward the lodge, motel, cabins, boat dock, pool, tennis courts and conference center — all resting on a peninsula stretching into the lake. “Hickory Knob has a wonderful back-to-nature feel to it,” Penland said. “There are no homes or tall buildings around, and there is plenty of natural beauty to be seen.”

Playing at just less than 7,000 yards from the back tees, Cheraw provides both a challenge and fun. Here, a foursome puts the finishing touches on a hole after clearing this water hazard.

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A tremendous assortment of slopes, contours, fairway widths and bunkering — not to mention the presence of Lake Thurmond — makes Hickory Knob play longer than its listed 6,560 yards. That being said, its natural beauty makes it worth the encounter. “I challenge you to find somewhere else where you can experience gorgeous lake views, wooded areas and even some wildlife for a bargain price,” boasted Penland. And, he is spot on. While each hole at Cheraw carries the name of a South Carolina tree or plant, Hickory Knob’s assignations are a bit different. Names like “Layup,” “The Breather,” and “Lucky” aptly describe what you see and feel from the tee. The number three signature hole, “Picturesque,” is a 177-yard thing of beauty. With Lake Thurmond providing the backdrop this par-3 hole plays downhill and is well guarded by bunkers. Should you stick the green from the tee, a difficult putt awaits.


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The pro shop at the Cheraw State Park Golf Course offers a place for golfers to relax after a round of golf or to have a special event.

While the front nine provides great fun, the final three holes on the back deliver an awesome finish. A target green at the end of the 16th is reachable in two with a second shot over water, but depending on your drive a lay up may be the best way to score on this 511yard par-5. The 17th, a par-3 hole, is similar in length and elevation change to Hickory Knob’s signature hole but is named “Water and Woes” for good reason as a wide open Lake Thurmond borders the entire front and left side of the green. Wind moving up and down the lake will change the hole dramatically from day to day. Finally, “Coming Home” is a fantastic finishing hole. From tee to green obstacles make it a test of nerve and skill. A stand of cypress trees borders the left, and the lake must also be avoided from the tee. Then you get to cross the lake for the final time with your approach to a wide but narrow green. It is easily the most difficult par-4 on the course. Hickory Knob State Resort Park is more than your average state park. Not only will you find a comfortable clubhouse with a snack bar lounge and full service pro shop, but other park amenities include one-bedroom and duplex cabins complete with kitchen facilities, as well as 76 motel-style lodge rooms that will accommodate any size group. There is even a Barrack that can fit up to 13 with four bedrooms and an assortment of bunk, single and double beds. A full-service restaurant serves three meals a day. If it is just great golf, or great golf with an endless side of outdoor

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activities, Cheraw and Hickory Knob cannot be beaten. They are hidden gems in the South Carolina State Park system, and make for the perfect golf getaway. A relaxing drive to Cheraw, followed by dinner in your cabin or a downtown restaurant, will prepare you for a wonderful round of golf in the morning. From there, head over to McCormick and spend the night and dine at Hickory Knob and repeat the process before heading back to the Upstate. n Golf tee times, lodging reservations and directions can be accessed on the South Carolina State Park website,, or by visiting each park’s individual site.

Lake Strom Thurmond is a defining feature at Hickory Knob where its waters are either visible or in play on every hole. And, apparently, even missed putts are part of the fun.




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A little humor, a little romance and … oh, a murder Upstate author taps successful formula story by Brett McLaughlin | photos courtesy of Cindy Blackburn

Cindy Blackburn’s Cue Ball protagonist Jessie Hewitt describes herself as having a “whimsical and flexible nature.” Blackburn swears she is not Hewitt, but this picture of the author with her seven books may hint otherwise.


… I opened my door to find Candy Poppe’s handsome to a fault fiancé standing in the hallway. But Stanley wasn’t looking all that handsome. Without bothering to say hello, he pushed me aside, stumbled toward the couch, and collapsed. Prince Charming was sick. I rushed over to where he had invited himself to lie down and knelt beside him. “Stanley?” I asked. “What’s wrong?” “Candy,” he whispered, and then he died. With that — just two pages into her first book — Cindy Blackburn became a mystery writer. “Playing With Poison just fell out of me,” she said of the first of her now 5-part Cue Ball Mystery Series. Today, just over four years later, Blackburn is on the cusp of producing a sixth Cue Ball Mystery and has published the first two books of the Cassie Black Mystery Series. Her blog, which can be reached via, is a regular read for hundreds, and 60,000 people worldwide follow her on Twitter. It’s been a quick decade since Blackburn began writing as a hobby, jotting down plot lines in longhand on ruled notebook paper. Things got a little more serious when her husband, John, bought her a laptop, and more serious still when she began e-publishing with Amazon. At the time, the couple was dividing their time between Vermont and Charleston, SC. Four years ago they moved to the Upstate, settling in Eas-


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ley. Blackburn said they are currently transitioning to fulltime South Carolina living, having purchased a bungalow on Lake Keowee. Blackburn writes “cozy mysteries,” a format popularized by the television series Murder She Wrote and further promoted by writers such as Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich. “I’m not great at plot, but the cozy mystery format pretty well sets the plot,” Blackburn said with a hint of relief. “It always involves a murder and an amateur sleuth — usually a female — who works with the police. If they were rated, they would probably be G to PG, no sex, just a murder, and there is usually some humor and some romance.” Blackburn swears her protagonists are not her, but she won’t deny some similarities. For instance, she shares more than first initials with Cassie Baxter, who just happens to live in a lakeside “shack” in Vermont. And, as far as Cue Ball (note the first letters) heroine Jessie Hewitt is concerned, she lives in Clarence, NC, a city modeled loosely after Asheville, NC. Her home is a converted warehouse much like the converted high school Blackburn calls home in Easley. And, did we mention that Jessie is a writer of romance novels? “Jessie is not me. She’s so much smarter, and she’s a middle-aged romance novelist,” Blackburn smiled, placing just a hint of emphasis on the word romance. Blackburn developed Hewitt’s character as a champagnedrinking, cat-loving, pool-playing amateur sleuth through four Cue Ball novels — enhancing a romantic sub-plot with a gruff homicide detective along the way. She then resurrected Unbelievable, the first Cassie Baxter Mystery, which she had started but mothballed years earlier. “I write light,” she said. “That way I don’t have to do research. I just have fun … “I always have a premise, but I don’t always know what everyone is going to do. I do know the turning points, and I go from there … “I write in the first person so the amateur sleuth is telling the story,” she continued. “This sounds like I’m bragging, but I’m a natural at dialogue. I think that comes from basically being an introvert. I’ve been listening to people most of my life.” She said writing dialogue became a little more difficult when Cassie Baxter came on the scene. “Cassie is younger and more casual,” she said. “Sometimes I have to stop myself and say ‘No, that’s Jessie.’ The Cue Ball books are my natural writing voice, but Cassie sounds more like me.” While dialogue may be her forte, Blackburn admits to being a perfectionist who hates most of her first and second drafts. “I always think they can be funnier,” she said, noting that she has a pair of critique groups that read portions of the books and a beta group that gets the final version. “I want them to tell me if sections drag, is it funny enough, when did you figure it out,” she said. Generally speaking, the reader figures out the guilty party within a page or two of the amateur sleuth, she explained. When it comes to production of the books, both online and in paperback (99 percent of her sales are e-books), Blackburn leans heavily on her husband’s skills. “He does my tech work,” she said, turning the conversation to the success of her marketing efforts. “I know people 62 ‹ UPSTATE LAKE LIVING


are following the books. I’ve got fans in New Zealand and Poland, and a book signing would Playing with Poison never get me that. Double Shot “People are reading the blog Three Odd Balls and Twitter is crazy. Social meFour Play dia is really working for me,” she added. Five Spot Blackburn said she is perfectly happy turning out “light-hearted reading for women.” “I want to take working women out of their stressful lives,” Unbelievable the former teacher of ancient and Unexpected European history said. “As my website says, I’m a firm believer that ‘grim reality is way overrated.’” She hopes to produce 12 books in the Cue Ball Mystery Series, but hasn’t set a number for Cassie Baxter. Her “pie in the sky” dream is to see her stories on the big or little screen. “I’d die and go to heaven if a director, producer or actor/actress wanted to take the Cue Balls or Cassie Baxters and make a mini-series or a movie,” she enthused. n


Audio versions of four of her books and additional information about The Cassie Baxter and Cue Ball Mystery series can be found at You can also follow Blackburn on Facebook (@CindyBlackburnAuthor), +Google (, Twitter ( and Instagram (

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ONE EXTRAORDINARY MAN’S EXTRAORDINARY HOME $1 million renovation brings lakeside villa to life

story by Brett McLaughlin | photos by Rex Brown


This view of the great room from the second floor balcony provides a glimpse of the terraced landscaping that leads down to the lake. From ground level, the room affords visitors a majestic view of open water on Lake Keowee with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.

SPRING 2017 › 67


hen Tim McKinney found the house he wanted on Lake Keowee, he bought it. Then he pretty much demolished and rebuilt it. When he was finished, just about the only thing left was a spectacular view of the lake and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Actually, McKinney — owner of the Dodge, RAM, Chrysler, Jeep dealership that bears his name in Easley — bought the home in 2007 so his dogs would have room to roam, something that wasn’t possible in a marina condo. But, having a place to entertain friends and family, as well as host events to support a variety of charitable causes, provided the necessary motivation to pour a million dollars and several months of his life into a renovation. “The location was perfect,” he said of the half-acre lot he found on a point at the north end of Keowee Key. “I was looking for a place with big water and mountain views and with little traffic.” » CONTINUED ON PG. 70

Tim McKinney’s love for his dogs is evidenced immediately upon entering his Lake Keowee home. This picture rests atop a small table in the entry outside of the great room.

Whether cooking or simply relaxing in a chair at a marble-topped island, the kitchen area, which also features a complete wet bar and a nearby sitting area with over-stuffed leather seating and a big screen television (in background) is often the primary gathering space for visitors to the home.


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The bay window in the formal dining room provides a view of the lake. The door at the left provides yet another entrance to the wine porch and an outdoor kitchen.


While the home he found, a 1989 construction, met those criteria — a 270-degree view of the lake and 286 feet of shoreline — the floor design and décor of the 6,000-square foot home left a lot to be desired. So McKinney teamed with builder Michael Brown and designer/decorator Rebecca Clay. Every day for 18 months he drove from the dealership to the lake to oversee the rebuild. “We tried to give the house a feeling of casual elegance,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe what it looked like. The rooms were all chopped up and disconnected. The views of the lake were all obstructed. We removed walls to open things up, so you could sit back and see the water. “I do entertain quite a bit, and I wanted to build a place that would bring people together,” he added. And, that it does. From the two-story interior entryway to the covered lower-level patio and walkway that winds through terraced landscaping, past a putting green and on down to the dock, the house is home to one man but very much a gathering place for many. » CONTINUED ON PG. 72


The décor of this first-floor den provides a cozy atmosphere in which to relax with a glass of wine or for McKinney to engage in some light desk duty.

This spring,


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The spacious master suite features a vaulted ceiling with large, wood beams. The room has additional indoor seating, three walk-in closets, a massive bath and affords access to a glassed-in porch area that overlooks the lake.

The master bath is very large, featuring this vanity area, as well as a whirlpool bath (on right) and a nearby walk-in shower that is tiled and features dual showerheads.


“His family, his nieces and nephews, come out a lot … more before he moved here full-time. He’s a serious businessman, but he’s also the fun guy,” said Becky Nelson, McKinney’s personal assistant, who is charged with everything from arranging travel, to stocking food and drinks at the home, to giving tours for inquiring magazine writers. Walking in the front door, two things become abundantly clear: the magnificent view of the lake and mountains he created from the great room immediately ahead, and the fact that the home’s owner has a soft spot for dogs — a fact driven home by a plethora of lower level hall plaques saluting his generosity to humane societies throughout the Upstate. The great room reaches more than two stories high and features a magnificent stone fireplace, wood flooring that frames one of several plush area rugs and a décor that features several beautiful oil paintings. A grand piano adorns one corner. A hallway to the right leads to a kitchen that attests to McKinney’s love of cooking. Multiple refrigerators are hidden behind black cabinetry that blends seamlessly with marble countertops and a marble sink. An L-shaped island, around which there are five cushioned seats, dominates the middle of the formidable space. Hidden, narrow vertical cupboards for cooking utensils and spices flank a wrought iron gas range. » CONTINUED ON PG. 74


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It’s All About Choice. You can choose the color, size, even the wood it is made of. Wood You of Anderson, SC is your unfinished furniture headquarters for the upstate of South Carolina and Northeast Georgia. You will find real wood furniture for every room in your home. We also sell finishing products so you can decorate in your own custom colors with easy to use products, or we will finish it for you.

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A nearby sitting area provides overstuffed, leather seating and a big-screen television for visitors who want to converse with a busy cook. Also at hand is a complete wet bar, flanked by temperature-controlled wine cabinets. From this area one also finds the entrance to a massive wine porch and an outdoor kitchen. The hallway empties into a formal dining area with a bay window view of the lake. A planked dining table softens the formality of the room, which, Nelson admitted, sees limited use given the other options the home offers for gathering with friends. Down the same hall, which features framed photos of several dogs McKinney has had, as well as two full-size suits of armor (“They were a gift from a friend” is all McKinney will say.), one finds a half-bath, the laundry and the entrance to a garage that was also totally remodeled, right down to the polished Terrazzo concrete flooring. » CONTINUED ON PG. 76


{above} The spaciousness of the guest suites is evidenced in this photo. A similar suite at the other end of the second floor features a full bath and views of the lake. {below} This lakeside view of the home is highlighted by the upper wine porch, which provides a cover for the lower patio area. Also featured is terraced landscaping on the right and a putting green on the left.


Bounds Cave’s Rug Gallery Full In-home Service = No Delivery Charges Friday’s- 10-4 | Saturday’s 10-3 | Monday’s 10-4 Call 828.226.3290 or 828.226.0592 = 763 Highway 107 South | Cashiers, NC | 828.743.5493 Serving Lakes Keowee, Jocassee and Hartwell

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8 Cashiers Commons (North of the Crossroads on Hwy 107), Cashiers, NC 828-743-2864 • Hours: Monday-Saturday • 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. SPRING 2017 › 75


This wing of the house features a small den with another bay window. Although the view is of the front yard, the room’s burgundy wall covering provides a cozy, quiet atmosphere in which to relax in massive, brown leather chairs in front of a second gas fireplace. The other wing of the main level features the carpeted master suite with large wood beams below a high vaulted ceiling. There is one sitting area in the room and a second door leading to a glassed-in porch that overlooks the lake. There are three walk-in closets for formal, business and casual attire. All have multiple pairs of shoes. “He loves his shoes,” Nelson chuckled, “and his socks. He’s got hundreds of pairs of socks.” The suite’s bath features a large, whirlpool tub and a massive tile shower with dual showerheads. The landing to the upper level features a magnificent grandfather clock, but it can be quickly forgotten as one reaches the open balcony that connects guest suites on the second floor. From the hallway one can look down on the entry or straight out for an even more amazing view of the lake and beyond. Each carpeted guest room features a view of the lake, a full bath with double vanities and a television. One room has a walk-in cedar closet. The lower level is more utilitarian with several hidden storage areas, a large exercise area and a pair of small bedrooms that are favorites when McKinney’s nieces and nephews visit. One features bunk beds, the other a small twin. The stairway to this level splits the room, creating two hallways that provide needed space to display some of the countless testimonials to McKinney’s philanthropic efforts. Framed plaques and photos offer “thank you” sentiments for contributions to pet causes, the American Red Cross and a host of other Upstate interests. One denotes that he received the first Red Cross driver’s license plate issued by the state. “He’s an extraordinary man,” Nelson said … … with an extraordinary home. n


Tim McKinney outside of his Lake Keowee home.

This view from the backyard offers a view of the open water and mountains that can be seen from practically every room in the home.

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Doing dinner right on Augusta Street Regulars flock back to Davani’s story by Brett McLaughlin | photos by Rex Brown

Many of Davani’s “regulars” return every week, never look at the menu, and order the penne alla vodka, a tangy blend of penne and Italian sausage with fresh basil and hot cherry peppers, sautéed in light cream, marinara and vodka and then topped with parmigiano reggiano cheese.



hen Rocky Davani set out to open his own Greenville restaurant, he did it right. He designed the floor plan and selected the décor, right down to the details of a magnificent mahogany bar. Then he did much of the work himself, installing flooring, painting walls and splitting hundred of wine corks lengthwise to create a soundabsorbing mosaic that blends seamlessly into the dining room décor. He even raised the ceiling when the bar arrived from Malaysia a few inches too tall. But then, Davani really got down to business, developing a menu that requires little change from week-to-week or season-to-season, and hiring a chef whose talents would keep folks coming back for more. And, that’s exactly what happens at Davani’s. If you choose to seek out Rocky’s “hidden gem” on Greenville’s west side — 1922 Augusta Street — reservations are in order, since 50 percent of the folks who will join you for dinner are regulars. “We’re a neighborhood place,” Davani said of an establishment that is more demure than Cheers, but where a lot of people do know each other’s names. “I’ve been 20 years on Augusta Road,” he said. “I know everybody. I know the little kids, and I’ve watched them grow up. Now they’re coming in for a drink.” Indeed, the restaurateur started his career as a dishwasher at a second generation, 50-seat, Italian eatery that was located a couple of blocks further west. Fourteen years later he was the maître de and sommelier. Neighborhood people thought he owned the place. When he took a job at a nearby wine shop, they wondered whom the restaurant’s new owners were. He opened Davani’s in July 2008, seeking to replicate the atmosphere he had helped create down the street. “I wanted a small place … a cozy place … a place where people know what’s going to be on the menu and can enjoy a night out,” he said. So, between 5:30 and 10 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, there may be two seatings in his 68-seat establishment. Friendly, outgoing servers, many of whom have been with Davani for years, will greet customers and the owner himself will work the floor, telling the occasional joke or, possibly, doing a magic trick or two. {at top} The fresh mozzarella and tomato salad that features hearts of palm, olives and a tasty balsamic dressing can actually feed two people. • {middle} One of the tastiest appetizers is the pecan-smoked trout served with crackers, a piquant horseradish sauce and a side of salad featuring spinach, arugula tomatoes and onion. • {at bottom} Classics of all kinds dot the Davani menu. Among them are chicken and veal dishes that can be served several ways, including this tasty offering of chicken Oscar, topped with crab meat, asparagus and hollandaise sauce and served with roasted zucchini and lightly flavored grits.

SPRING 2017 › 79

{ Wednesday Bogo Sushi Extended Happy Hour

Monday $3.56 Select Sushi Rolls


The breast of Muscovy duck had neither the texture nor taste typically associated with fowl, likely because it was panseared with port wine and served with a sundried cherry demiglace featuring candied hazelnuts and chevre.


Friday Chef’s Specials

Thursday Half Price Wine Bottles

{ 700 By Pass 123, Seneca 864.882.9463 | Monday - Saturday 4-10 p.m. Reservations strongly encouraged


But, for all the cordiality — helped along by a selection of 250 wines — the food is what keeps bringing customers back. Classic entrees such as lasagna, chicken parmigiana, veal piccata and filet mignon dot the menu. But, one can also find more exotic offerings such as grilled Australian lamb chops served with red pepper jelly, or osso buco Milanese, braised in an aromatic blend of wine and vegetables and served over saffron risotto with gremolata garnish. Chef Chris Landreth, who has been “married to the kitchen” at Davani’s for five years, can keep it simple, offering chicken and veal served four ways — piccata, marsala, Oscar or parmigiana — but also has creative license. Each evening features an entrée special, many of which eventually are added to the standard menu. Similarly, appetizers range from classics such as a simple bruschetta, to the pecan smoked trout we were served, which came with a piquant horseradish sauce and a side of salad featuring spinach, arugula tomatoes and onion. Before turning our attention to the main course, we shared — and there was enough for two — a fresh mozzarella and tomato salad that featured hearts of palm, olives and a tasty balsamic dressing. For our entrees we chose chicken Oscar and the Muscovy duck. As one never too excited about duck, I must admit that Davani’s preparation resulted in an exceptional meal. The entrée had neither the texture nor taste associated with typical fowl as the breast was pan-seared with port wine and served with a sundried cherry demi-glace featuring candied hazelnuts and chevre. It was excellent. Our host also prepared a portion of one of the house favorites from a separate listing of pasta entrees. According to Davani, many of his regulars routinely request the penne alla vodka, a tangy blend of penne and Italian sausage with fresh basil and hot cherry peppers, sautéed in light cream, marinara and vodka and then topped with parmigiano reggiano cheese. It was well worth finding a little room for. The standard menu features a wide variety of entrees, ranging from a prime filet mignon and a pair of 5-ounce Maine lobster tails to salmon or prime pork ribeye. There is a “catch of the day,” but Davani only purchases limited quantities to ensure freshness. As much produce as possible is purchased locally and does result in some seasonal variations to the menu, particularly the soup and salad menus. Several tasty desserts are available. Had we had room, we probably would have tried the zabaglione for two with its rich Italian custard

sauce with sweet Marsala wine, served over vanilla ice cream and topped with fresh strawberries. If you wish to experience Davani’s as a group, the restaurant features a 24-seat private dining area that the owner calls his “Marilyn Room.” Part of the décor features his private collection of limited edition Marilyn Monroe (and Norma Jean) wines. New customers should not be dissuaded by Davani’s presence in a small strip mall. Slipping through the front doors, one marvels at how the veteran restaurateur has created an atmosphere that feels, sounds and even eats like some of the best Greenville has to offer. “We’re not a turn and burn place,” Davani said. “We want people to come, relax and enjoy a good meal. “But,” he added, “you need to warn your readers that we are addictive.” n

Rocky Davani has been serving tantalizing food and a vast bouquet of wines to residents of Greenville’s Westside, Augusta Street area for some 20 years. Children he has done magic tricks for have grown up and now return as adults to enjoy a drink at his bar and a meal at one of his tables.

Davani’s is only open for evening dining. Reservations are recommended, particularly on weekends. Appetizers range in price from $8.50 to $12, pasta entrees from $16 to $24, entrees from $18 to $36 and desserts from $7 to $14 (for the zabaglione). The complete menu and a reservation form can be found at:

When you have the right financial advisor, life can be brilliant.

A New York-feel leads to a cosmopolitan atmosphere after one enters Davani’s on Augusta Street in Greenville. Don’t let its location in a small strip mall throw you. Rocky Davani specializes in great food, plenty of wine and a very good time.

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T. Mitchell Pollock, CRPC® Financial Advisor Mark A. Chrisenberry Financial Advisor Thomas M. Pollock Financial Advisor 864.654.0837 Two convenient lake locations: Lake Keowee 1209 Stamp Creek Road, Ste A Salem, SC 29676 Lake Hartwell 105 Wall Street, Ste 3 Clemson, SC 29631

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10239 Clemson Blvd. Seneca, SC 29678 (864) 888-4413 Mon - Fri 9:30 - 6:00 Sat 9:30 - 3:30

SPRING 2017 › 81



1st Place People & Pets Category

Fear Factor Survivors by Kim Mitchem, ​Keowee Falls North

It’s no easy task to pick just one of the many incredible photos that we received in our third annual photo contest, but in the pages to follow we share the best of the best. Every picture submitted captured the beauty, vitality and the enjoyment of our magnificent lakes. Winning photos were selected from three categories — places, people & pets and nature — and because there were so many that we wanted to share, we have a bevy of honorable mentions. Get out your cameras and share a photo of lake living, big or small, that you’ve snapped while exploring our beautiful area. Whether you are an amateur or professional, we welcome your photos! In addition to the overall winner being awarded $500, Upstate Lake Living will publish the top three winners and honorable mentions in next year’s spring issue. We invite you to begin submitting your best shots now for next year at


1st Place Nature Category

Butterfly by Bob Ridge, Crestview

1st Place Places Category


Keowee Fog Over Dam by Ken Myers, Waterford Pointe Honorable Mentions

South Cove Park After the Storm by Russell Carlson, Keowee Key, Places Island Morning Sunrays by Russell Carlson, Keowee Key, Places SPRING 2017 › 83


SPRING 2017 › 84

Honorable Mentions

Bridge to Paradise by Russell Carlson, Keowee Key, Places

Keowee Kruisin’ by Jim Thomas, Pinnacle Pointe, People & Pets

Taking Off by Sucheng Xie, Seneca, Nature

Go Jump in the Lake by Kathleen Riley, Waterford Pointe, People & Pets

Wintertime Is For The Birds by Bob Ridge, Crestview, Nature

Ageless by by Kim Mitchem,​Keowee Falls North, People & Pets

Springtime on Lake Keowee by Dwight Hotchkiss, Keowee Key, Nature


SPRING 2017 › 85

f o y t i C

Seneca upcoming events Starting in April

Cruzin on main

1st Saturday April - October. Downtown on Main Street.

Every Thursday April - October. on Ram Cat Alley.

-27 MAY 26


With Special Guests


Sammy Kershaw

4th of July


Aaron Tippin

McKayla Reece

Folllow us on Facebook

Don't miss the award-winning fireworks display at Gignilliat Field. Free for the whole family.

Seneca SC Events



Scenic Chevrolet


MARCH 16 – APRIL 8 SISTER ACT You will have a reason to rejoice! Based on the popular 1992 film, this heavenly smash hit musical tells the story of disco diva Deloris Van Cartier who, after witnessing a murder, is put into protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found: a convent!

MAY 11 – 21 DELIKATESSEN When a landmark New York City delicatessen falls on hard times in 1972, the Jewish owners, both concentration camp survivors, are stunned to discover a new, German delicatessen preparing to open its doors across the street …


MARCH 31 – APRIL 9 THE ODD COUPLE, FEMALE VERSION Oscar and Felix are at it again in Neil Simon’s Female Odd Couple. Divorcee Olive Madison, who admits she’s a slob, invites divorced Florence Unger to room with her although Florence is a stickler for detail who can try the patience of a saint. Florence’s obsessive habits take their toll on Olive. Olive’s plan to solve the problem disastrously backfires, and both women are forced to agree that best friends sometimes make the worst roommates.


APRIL 21-23, 28-30 GETTING SARA MARRIED Sara Hastings is an unmarried lawyer in her mid-30’s, much too busy to get involved in romance. Her Aunt Martha has decided to take matters into her own hands and find her a husband. Unfortunately, Aunt Martha’s method of doing it amounts to having the prospective groom bopped over the head and brought to Sara’s apartment.


April 20 - April 30


SATURDAY, APRIL 22 HAGOOD MILL EVENT presents the CAROUSERS and LIONZ OF ZION featuring Audrey Hamilton FREE EVENT • $5 Parking Benefits Hagood Mill Restoration Noon until - 4:00 PM PLUS JOINT EVENT ON MAIN STREET IN CENTRAL • 4:00 PM featuring the WOBBLERS, Atlanta’s BOSS 429 BAND and Funky SOUL RIPPLE FREE EVENT courtesy of the Town of Central


Concert at CATBUS HQ featuring CARL NEIL DUO Special Guest Appearance by THE GYPSY SALLIES FREE food, beer and wine courtesy of our sponsors • 4:00 until 6:00 PM


Pendleton event at Little Theater’s COX HALL featuring “Lainee” Garrett & Sonny Thornton Jazz Combo 7:00 PM • Tickets $10 • Limited number of reserved tables (seat 8) for $100 each.


Historic Bus Tours • April, 24, 25 and 26. Visit website for details.


Local bands at 22 Below (Formerly the Red Minnow) on Main Street in Central




THE VOLTAGE BROTHERS Clemson University’s T. Ed Garrison Complex Benefits Clemson Sertoma Club camp for disadvantaged children. Tables for six (6) are $125 in advance. 7:00-9:30PM Tickets $25 per person the night of event. Call 864-650-0585 for reservations.


Clemson’s own PAULA HARRIS fundraiser event for Pickens County Meal on Wheels McKissick Center, Liberty. Tickets available at 864-606-3745 and Tickets $15 per person. Table of 8 $200 (Includes 2 Drinks & A Meal/Per Person)


Joint event with Clemson United Methodist Church Featuring an Old Time Gospel Sunday singing featuring WANDA JOHNSON AND FRIENDS. Dinner plates provided by the Clemson Area African American Museum $10 benefiting their community programs. 12:00 noon until 3:00 PM FREE event open to public For Complete Concert Schedule


SPRING 2017 › 87


APRIL 7 – 23 LYING IN STATE A state senator has died in a ridiculous gun accident, and it has made him a national hero. Everyone is searching for something; the local political leaders are looking for someone to fill his seat, his ex-wife is looking for a bugler to play for his funeral, and a host of other zany characters are looking for love, votes, the right casket and a purple squirrel named Mel. In this madcap comedy, love, politics and, well … everything, are not what they seem.


APRIL 14 – 23 DON’T CRY FOR ME MARGARET MITCHELL Based on the actual events of spring 1939 when the movie public is anxiously awaiting the release of Gone With The Wind, producer David O. Selznick realizes the script is a dud. He calls on screenwriter Ben Hecht to save the day but, unfortunately, Hecht never read the book. With only a week before filming resumes, Selznick locks himself in his office with Hecht and Director Victor Fleming to rewrite the script.


APRIL 11 – 16 SOMETHING ROTTEN! From the director of Aladdin and the co-

director of The Book of Mormon, Something Rotten! is “Broadway’s big, fat hit!” Set in 1595, this hilarious smash tells the story of Nick and Nigel Bottom, two brothers who are desperate to write a hit play. When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theater involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical!

MAY 31 – JUNE 25 DISNEY’S THE LION KING More than 80 million people around the world have experienced the awe-inspiring

Education. Energized.

HALF Education goes beyond the classroom. That’s why curious minds are always welcome at Duke Energy’s WORLD OF ENERGY, the education center at Oconee Nuclear Station. More than 3 million visitors have enjoyed our exhibits for nearly 50 40 years. All for free. Come see our recent updates, including new signage, exhibits and a new-look lobby. Try your hand at one of our computer games. Explore the Story of Energy exhibit. Get outside and hike our nature trail by beautiful Lake Keowee. Or come out to one of our monthly events, featuring live music, educational lectures, movies and art shows, just to name a few. And be sure to circle your calendars now to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime event: our Great American Total Solar Eclipse viewing party on Aug. 21!

Calendar of events March 21-April 14: Festival of Eggs April 22: Earth Day Celebration with Keep Oconee Beautiful Assocation (KOBA) May 15 – June 14: Paul Dohr Art Show August 21: Great American Total Solar Eclipse Viewing Party


7812 Rochester Highway, Seneca, S.C.

upstate theatre visual artistry, the unforgettable music and the uniquely theatrical storytelling of this Broadway spectacular — one of the most breathtaking and beloved productions ever to grace the stage. Winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, The Lion King brings together one of the most imaginative creative teams on Broadway. Tony Award®-winning director Julie Taymor brings to life a story filled with hope and adventure set against an amazing backdrop of stunning visuals. The Lion King features Broadway’s most recognizable music, crafted by Tony Award®-winning artists Elton John and Tim Rice.



John Denver Musical Tribute Featuring Ted Vigil

Saturday, March 25 • 7:30 pm Advance Tickets $28, Children $14 Group $24, Day Of Show $33 Sponsored by Blue Ridge Bank & Little Pigs BBQ

Guy Penrod (gospel)


Saturday, April 22 • 7:30 pm

Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards® including “Best Musical” and the 2013 Grammy Award for “Best Musical Theater Album,” Once is a truly original Broadway experience. Featuring an impressive ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, Once tells the tale of a Dublin street musician who’s about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights, but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than your everyday romance. This unforgettable story is about going for your dreams, not living in fear, and the power of music to connect all of us.

APRIL 17 – 23 A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM The course of true love never did run smooth as Shakespeare’s crisscrossed lovers find themselves in an enchanted woods full of fairies, mischief and love.


MARCH 16 ­– 19 NAME THAT TUNE The latest hit for the Anderson Senior Follies features songs of George Gershwin and Cole Porter as well as Justin Timberlake and other American songwriters. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Saturday at 12:30 and 5 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available through the Anderson University Box Office at (864) 2312080. Visit

Advance Tickets $35, Children $17.50 Group $30, Day Of Show $40 Sponsored by The City of Walhalla & Paesano’s Italian Restaurant

The Sock Hops 50’s, 60’s & 70’s Music

Saturday, May 13 • 7:30 pm Advance Tickets $16, Children $8 Group $12, Day Of Show $20 Sponsored by Your Oconee County Government & Old Towne Pizza Buffet

Blue Highway (Bluegrass)

Saturday, May 20 • 7:30 pm Advance Tickets $24, Children $12 Group $20, Day Of Show $28 Sponsored by The City of Walhalla

First Baptist of Ivy Gap Play-Poignant Comedy

June 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 & 25 Evenings 7:30 pm, Sundays 2:30 pm Advance Tickets $14, Children $7, Group $14, Day Of Show $16 Sponsored by The City of Walhalla • Veterans can attend this show for FREE!! For more info on these & future events, visit Order tickets online or call 864-638-5277 You can also buy tickets at the following local merchants: The Wine Emporium in Keowee/Salem, H&R Block in Seneca and Westminster. Community 1st Bank in Walhalla and the Walhalla Chamber of Commerce.

SPRING 2017 › 89

calendar of events THRU MARCH 31 The ARTS Center of Clemson, 212 Butler St., hosts the Pendleton Square Artists Co-op in the Main Gallery for the Interconnections Exhibit. The exhibit and sale is free and open to the public.

MARCH 17 Peace Center in Greenville presents multiplatinum international music sensation Celtic Woman and Voices of Angels; 8 p.m.; for tickets and information call 864.467.3000 or visit

MARCH 18 City of Seneca half marathon & 5K; walkup registration begins at 6:30 a.m.; 5K begins at 8 a.m.; half marathon begins at 8:15 a.m.; races start and end at Shaver Recreation Complex; dress your best for the St. Patrick’s pre-race party; more information at 864.882.2700. Kids’ Fest at Hagood Mill, 138 Hagood Mill Road, Pickens; kid-focused activities with musical entertainment provided by Pickens County’s very own Young Appalachian Musicians; 864.898.2936 or for more information.

MARCH 19 One of the longest running rock groups, Chicago makes a stop at Greenville’s Peace Center during their 50th consecutive year of touring; 7:30 p.m.; call 864.467.3000 or visit

MARCH 21 Historic Ballenger House Prom Dress Giveaway, 3-6 p.m. Ballenger House is located at 212 E. South 3rd St., Seneca.

MARCH 25 Ted Vigil, one of America’s greatest John Denver Tribute Artists, pays homage to all the great Denver songs in his return to the Walhalla Civic Auditorium; 7:30 p.m.; call 864.638.5277 for more information or tickets. Annual Farm Day event at the Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of SC and Woodburn Historic Home, both of which are located at 100 History Lane, Pendleton; from 10 a.m. – 90 ‹ UPSTATE LAKE LIVING


3 p.m. View exhibits of farm implements and farm animals, demonstrations from artisans, and tour the museum and Woodburn Historic Home; enjoy games on the lawn, purchase food from vendors and learn about agriculture in SC.

Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at Clemson University presents CU Men’s & Women’s Choirs; 7:30 p.m.; for tickets call 864.656.7787.

Peace Center in Greenville presents Earth, Wind & Fire. Born in Chicago in 1969, EWF is still going strong in its fifth decade; 8 p.m.; call 864.467.3000 or visit

Pickens County Museum of Art & History, 307 Johnson St., Pickens, celebrates Youth Art Month; high school reception will be April 6, 5:30-7 p.m. and elementary and middle reception will be April 8, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

MARCH 28 Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at Clemson University presents the SFJAZZ Collective: The Music of Miles Davis & Original Compositions. The Collective is an all-star ensemble comprised of eight of the finest performers/composers in jazz today; 7:30 p.m.; for tickets call 864.656.7787.

MARCH 29 The Reserve at Lake Keowee presents John McCutcheon, a folk singer and songwriter who will share his music thru numerous instruments such as his octave mandolin, Cajun accordion, harmonium, 6-string guitar, banjo and others; 7 p.m. at Founder’s Hall; for information call 864.481.4010.

APRIL 1-2 40th Pendleton Spring Jubilee juried arts and crafts festival; live entertainment fills the air and local food vendors tempt you with smells of delicious foods; be sure to bring the kids for arts and crafts and other fun interactive activities; historic Ashtabula and Woodburn Plantation houses are both open Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4 p.m.; admission is charged.

APRIL 4 The Paul Taylor Dance Company, founded in 1954, is one of the world’s most highly respected and sought-after ensembles. It has performed in more than 500 cities in 64 countries, and will perform at the Peace Center in Greenville at 7:30 p.m.; call 864.467.3000 or visit ticketsatpeacecenter. org.

APRIL 6-27

APRIL 8 Kids Spring Fling (free) for ages 4-14 on the grounds of the Historic Ballenger House, 212 E. South 3rd St., Seneca. From 2-4 p.m. there will be games, face painting and balloon characters. Parents must accompany children. Event will be held weather permitting.

APRIL 9 Clemson University Department of Performing Arts “POPS” Concert at Patrick Square. Enjoy a variety of ensembles at 5 p.m.; for tickets call 864.656.7787.

APRIL 11 Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at Clemson University presents The Nile Project, one of the tightest cross-cultural collaborations in history creating new music that combines the rich diversity of one of the oldest places on Earth; 7:30 p.m.; for tickets call 864.656.7787.

APRIL 13 Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at Clemson University presents CU Jazz Ensemble; 8 p.m.

APRIL 15 Hagood Mill, 138 Hagood Mill Road, Pickens, invites everyone to come out and get everything they need to get their garden started for the year. Featuring a local heirloom seed swap and plant sale. Talk with local farmers and demonstrators about all of your gardening questions; 864.898.2936 or for more information.

APRIL 18 Brooks Center for the Performing Arts

calendar of events at Clemson University presents the CU Symphonic Band & CU Concert Band; 8 p.m.

Carolina; registration at 7:30 a.m. at 301 W. Main St., Walhalla; race begins 9 a.m. rain or shine. For more information visit

APRIL 18 – MAY 26

Earth Day Event at Duke’s World of Energy; visit: energy-centers for more information.

Juried Show Gallery Exhibit at The ARTS Center of Clemson, 212 Butler St.; free opening reception is April 6, 6-9 p.m. with drinks and light appetizers; call 864.633.5051 for exhibit hours and more information.

APRIL 21 Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at Clemson University presents the CU Singers. The university’s premiere choral ensemble will present a program highlighting music from the U.S. and Germany in preparation for a concert tour of Germany and the Czech Republic; 7:30 p.m.

APRIL 21-22 The Foothills YMCA Lakeside Art and Music Festival will be held at The Lighthouse Restaurant and Event Center, 1290 Doug Hollow Road, Seneca; art exhibits, music, silent auction and multiple events on Saturday plus a gala dinner and live auction Friday night, as well as the popular Container Garden Competition; proceeds provide safe, affordable after-school care and summer camp programs for the children of working families in Oconee County elementary schools; for information, visit

APRIL 22 Walhalla Civic Auditorium presents the music of Guy Penrod, whose music has been applauded in Gospel as well as country formats. He has appeared on “The Grand Ole Opry” and numerous country recordings; 7:30 p.m.; call 864.638.5277 for more information or tickets. Rock the Boat benefits Ripple of One, which empowers families to move beyond government assistance through programs and mentorships; event at the Keowee Key Golf and Country Club features dinner and silent and live auctions; for more information. Issaqueena’s Last Ride 2017 is a challenging, mountain ride through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and Foothills of South

APRIL 24 – MAY 11 School District of Oconee County Student Art Show will be on display at the Duke World of Energy, 7812 Rochester Highway, Seneca.

MAY 6 – JUNE 18 The Humanities Council has selected Pickens County Museum, 307 Johnson St., Pickens, to host A Smithsonian Exhibit: The Way We Worked. The exhibit will be shown in the Focus Gallery and include guest speakers talking about the CCC, textile mills and modern technology in the 21st century. Opening reception will be May 11, 5-7 p.m. More details will be posted as the exhibit date approaches at visitpickenscounty. com.

MAY 6 – 7

APRIL 25 Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at Clemson University presents the CU Symphony Orchestra; 8 p.m.

Oconee Humane Society sponsors National Adoption Event at PetSmart in Seneca, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.



Shaggers and classic car admirers will be For more than five decades, Steve lining up for prime locations at the 20th Winwood has remained a primary figure annual Blue Ridge Festival, 734 West Main in rock ‘n’ roll, a respected innovator who St., Pickens; gates open at 2 p.m. for classic car cruise-in, music Selling the Lifestyle of and dancing start Lake Keowee at 6 p.m.; more information at “Keith was a knowledgeable professional from 800.240.3400. Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at Clemson University presents the CU Percussion Ensemble & CU Steel Band; 8 p.m.

the beginning of the house-selling process to the end when papers were signed. She went above and beyond what any Real Estate Professional would be expected to do … She was available and responsive every time I called. I give Keith Eustis the highest possible recommendation.” - Nancee Currier, January 2017

APRIL 29 The Glorylanders Southern gospel quartet — Jeff, Chris and Steve Hawkins and Bruce Dockery — from Cookeville, TN will perform at The Reserve’s Founder’s Hall, 7-9 p.m.; for information call 864.481.4010.

Mary Keith Eustis

Keller Williams Seneca 455 Bypass 123, Suite A. Seneca, SC 29678 864-710-5434 SPRING 2017 › 91

calendar of events has helped create some of the genre’s most celebrated achievements. He will bring his talents to the Peace Center in Greenville at 7:30 p.m.; call 864.467.3000 or visit

MAY 12 – 13 Mayfest Art of Living celebrates the arrival of spring to the Upstate; downtown Walhalla; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day; includes arts and crafts, a parade, antique car show and shagging on Main Street; 864.638.2727 or for more information.

MAY 12 Bearfootin’ Public Art Walk Reveal in downtown Hendersonville. Come see the bears revealed one-by-one at the First Citizens Bank Plaza; music starts at 5 p.m. followed by the reveal at 6 p.m.

MAY 13 Oconee Humane Society annual Fly-in for the Animals at the Oconee County airport, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; music, airplanes and vintage cars on display, airplane rides and a helicopter golf ball drop for cash prizes; admission is free. The Sock Hops return to the Walhalla Civic Auditorium, specializing in fourpart harmonies for all of your favorites from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s; 7:30 p.m.; call 864.638.5277 for information or tickets.

MAY 13 – 14 INT League hosts a wakeboard, kneeboard and wake surf tournament at South Cove County Park, Seneca; bring a lounge chair and enjoy the day watching competition from the beach; for more information visit:

MAY 15 – JUNE 14 The Paul Dohr Art Show will be on display at the Duke World of Energy, 7812 Rochester Highway, Seneca.

MAY 20 The Clemson Festival of Arts offers works from local artists, music, food, and hands-on opportunities for children and adults to make art. The festival kicks off with a “Character 92 ‹ UPSTATE LAKE LIVING

Parade” for all ages. Everyone will enjoy food from local restaurants while listening to local musicians and browsing through booths of local artists. “Come Dabble in the Arts” at the Catherine Smith Plaza and Jaycee Park in downtown Clemson from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information visit

Admission is $6 per adult and $2 for children 10 and under. For more information, visit:

Hagood Mill, 138 Hagood Mill Road, Pickens, offers Southern Arts & Crafts. See local artisans and craftsmen at work demonstrating their skills at old style Appalachian crafts. Join in some of the demonstrations, register for a workshop, or enjoy the fun of clogging. For information, call 864.898.5963 or visit visitpickenscounty. com.

Music on Main in Westminster, first Friday of each month; 6:30-9 p.m.; cruise-in, music and drinks.

Walhalla Civic Auditorium presents Blue Highway. Indisputably one of the most esteemed and influential groups in contemporary bluegrass, the group performs at 7:30 p.m.; call 864.638.5277 for information or tickets.

MAY 25 – 27 Seneca Fest outdoor concert and family activities based at Gignilliat Community Center; Music by Mothers Finest at Gignilliat Center on May 27; Saturday features wrestling at noon followed by Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and McKayla Reece in concert at 4 p.m.; 864.723.3910 or www. for information.

MAY 27 – 28 Garden Jubilee is Hendersonville’s premier lawn & garden show, and one of the largest gardening shows in Western North Carolina. Learn tips and tricks from 200 regional gardening experts, select from thousands of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs and hard to find plants on sale and enjoy the works of crafters offering distinctive garden art to enhance the beauty of your yard; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days; downtown Hendersonville.

ONGOING April 9 Thru October 31 both Ashtabula and Woodburn Houses are open to the public for Sunday afternoon tours, 1-5 p.m.

Jazz on the Alley on Ram Cat Alley, Seneca, every Thursday beginning April 7; enjoy food and great music from 6:30-9 p.m.

Cruzin’ on Main in Downtown Seneca is the first Saturday, April through October (except June), 4-8 p.m.; 50-50 drawing and door prizes. The Lunney House Museum, 211 W. South 1st St., Seneca, is open Thursday thru Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; admission by donation. The Bertha Lee Strickland Cultural Museum, 208 W. South 2nd St., Seneca, is open Thursday thru Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; admission by donation. Historic Ballenger House tours and rentals; Seneca Woman’s Club preserves this historic home, 212 E. South 3rd St. Call Debbie, 864.324.8417 or Ruth, 864.882.7162. Visit Hagood Mill, 138 Hagood Mill Road, has monthly “First Saturday” house concerts in the Visitors Building from noon – 2 p.m. and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. to tour the grounds and pick up “mill products.” Guided tours available by appointment. The site is available every day during daylight hours to picnic or walk the nature trail. For information contact Hagood Mill at 864.898.2936 or Pickens County Museum at 864.898.5963. Silver Dollar Music Hall in Westminster, SC, features open mic each Friday at 7 p.m. with regular pickers performing at 8 p.m. Downtown Hendersonville hosts Rhythm and Brews Concert Series the 3rd Thursday, May through September. Enjoy fantastic music, good food and fine drink with good friends.

“Largest Cruise-In in the Upstate” featuring

Little Anthony & The Imperials The Contours Jim Quick & Coastline and The Flashbacks April 28, 2017 5:30 -10 pm at Blue Ridge Electric Co-op, 734 W. Main St., Pickens, SC Come in a classic car (1989 or older) and $30 admits a carload of up to four! Line-up begins at 2 pm. Gates open at 3 pm for classic cars. Dash plaques are available for the first 400 cars. Proceeds benefit Upstate charitable organizations. For more information, call 1-800-240-3400 or visit online at

SPRING 2017 › 93

Muskie in the Mountains



very couple of years, an angler will make the outdoor news by catching a muskellunge in South Carolina waters — usually from the upper stretches of the Broad River. Often confused with northern pike, a gamefish not native to South Carolina, or a pickerel, a non-gamefish species that is native here, muskellunge are the largest member of the pike family and most commonly associated with northern United States and Canadian waters. What few anglers realize is that a thriving population of muskies abounds just across the North Carolina state line. Muskellunge are, or were, native to the southern Appalachians and specifically to the French Broad River until a major chemical spill in the 1940s eradicated muskies and nearly every other species of fish from the river. Over time, particularly after passage of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972, the French Broad River recovered. In the early 1970s, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission began to stock muskies in the river. Another strong advocate of muskies and the French Broad fishery is the Western North Carolina Muskie Club, a long established organization that both educates the public on successful catch-and-release muskie fishing and assists with stocking efforts by the NCWRC. Neal Osteen, a member of the WNC Muskie Club, caught the muskie bug from his uncle who grew up fishing 438-acre Lake Adger, a residential lake east of Hendersonville. Lake Adger has a viable population of stocked muskies and currently hosts the state record fish, a 41-pound, 8-ounce monster, caught by Richard W. Dodd in 2001. According to Osteen, the heart of Muskellunge territory in the French Broad runs through Henderson and Transylvania counties in North Carolina just across the state line from the Upstate. Osteen regularly fishes


the French Broad and claims it’s as good as, or better, a Muskie fishery as any place in the country. Osteen has two methods of fishing for muskies — fly fishing large streamers and poppers, or baitcasting with heavy-duty, 8½foot rods, spooled with 60-pound braided line and 100-pound fluorocarbon leaders. Muskies get big in the French Broad; 40 to 45-inch fish weighing 30 pounds or more are common. Muskies also come equipped with a set of large, sharp teeth, earning them the moniker “water wolves.” “The best Muskie waters are deep slow pools in the upper sections of the French Broad, but you have to cross a lot of rocky shoals to reach those areas,” he said. Osteen deems it a good day’s fishing when he gets a couple of follows from large muskies, which are notorious for hiding out under shoreline cover and submarining large baits. A better day is getting one to bite. He frequently gets fish to follow a bait all the way to his boat and then tries to entice a strike by waving the rod in a figure 8 to tease the bait in front of the fish’s nose. Osteen caught his personal best muskie, a

Western North Carolina hosts a viable population of muskellunge in both Lake Adger and the French Broad River. They have earned the nickname “Water Wolves” for their ferocious nature. [photo courtesy of Neal Osteen]

51-incher that nearly topped the state record, after getting three up close follows from the same fish. “She followed a glide bait twice, all the way to the boat, then I switched and threw a small crank bait and tried to figure 8 her when she followed it in,” he said. “The trick turned out to be throwing a big soft plastic bait called a Bulldawg on the second cast. I ripped it hard through the water, and she finally ate it.” “I’m all about CPR — catch, photo and release,” he said. “This is a beautiful, but fragile, fishery and these fish belong back in the water.” n

Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors” an outdoors radio program heard Saturdays from noon – 2 pm on WORD 106.3 FM or online at He can be reached at

Check the Forecast Before Hitting the Lake The biggest weather-related dangers for local boaters and swimmers are strong winds, lightning, and heat-related illnesses. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.

Strong Winds

Strong winds create large waves and make waters choppy. Boaters and swimmers must be aware that wind and wave conditions on area lakes can change rapidly and often vary greatly from place to place.

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When Thunderstorms are expected, it is best to avoid large stretches of open water, as wind can pick up quickly. If you hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Be aware of the weather and be prepared to take shelter.

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Navigating our lakes



avigating Lake Keowee, with over 300 miles of shoreline, or Lake Hartwell, with over 900 miles of shoreline, can be a challenge if you are not familiar with these waters. Even after living and boating on our lakes for over 30 years, there are still times, especially at night, when things can get a little tricky. Here are a few steps you can take to stay safe and find your way around with ease. CHART YOUR COURSE Not really “charting” in the technical sense, but a good first step is to familiarize yourself with a current lake map before you venture out on the water. Learn the lake in small sections at a time by previewing your chosen destination on the map. Unlike Lake Hartwell, Lake Keowee does not have numbered navigational buoys. It will help to note landmarks in either case, such as marinas, gas docks, boat ramps, etc. Another great position check while you are on the water is the numbered islands. The FOLKS organization has numbered all Lake Keowee islands that are referenced on current lake maps. This is not only good for a navigation check, but also a means of giving someone your location in case of an emergency. The DNR and Sheriff’s Office have the coordinates that correspond to these island numbers. This is also a good time to note where the shallow areas are on your route. Most lake maps denote shallow areas in the legend and also recognize them with topographical contour lines and color shading. It is important to remember that even though there are some buoys marking shallow spots, there are many that are unmarked. I like to circle these areas on the map so I can easily see locations to stay clear of while running the boat. Another good trick is to view the lake on your computer from Google Earth. You can zoom in on the lake and readily see the lighter colored water that is usually a sign of a shallow area. Once you have located them, you can then note these spots on your map. Your boat may also come equipped with a GPS mapping system that will allow you to drop pins in areas you want to avoid. Water levels can fluctuate several feet in short


periods of time, which can result in a big difference in underwater clearance. It helps to observe the water itself. Lighter colored water is a good sign that you may be entering shallow water. This is not foolproof due to the fact that choppy water conditions or cloud cover can make these lighter spots hard to see. The topography of adjoining land is another good indicator of water depth. If the shoreline you are boating near looks to be steep in slope, there is a reasonable chance that the same steep slope continues into the water resulting in deeper water. The same goes for gently or flat sloping land that might continue into the water as a shallow area. Again, not foolproof but a good guide. NAVIGATING AT NIGHT The first rule of night boating is to slow down, no matter what high-tech navigation equipment you have on board. Even on a moonlit evening, you just can’t see as well as during the day. Objects won’t come into view until they are fairly close. If you’re going too fast, you might not be able to maneuver quickly enough to avoid a collision with an unlit object such as a rock outcropping or floating debris. The optimal speed on any given night depends on visibility. During a full moon, you might feel comfortable running the boat a bit faster than you would on a night when everything fades to black. The important thing is not to rush. Just like on a romantic date, take it easy. Some boats are equipped with headlights.

In open water, the light reflecting off waves and mist is often more blinding than illuminating. It also destroys your night vision. Save this type of lighting for when you are docking. However, there are occasions when a searchlight or spotlight is handy, particularly if you are trying to locate or identify a nearby object such as an unlit boat, buoy, boat dock, shoreline or jetty. In the end, one of the most valuable navigation tools is a sharp set of eyes, and the more eyes the better when darkness falls. When it comes to identifying another boat’s direction at night, always remember that the color and location of running lights on other boats will serve as your indicator of their direction. For example, if you meet a boat and see a green, red and white light, you are approaching another power-driven vessel head-on. In this situation neither vessel has the right-of-way. Both operators must take early and substantial action to steer well clear of the other vessel. Both operators should reduce their speed and steer to starboard. Another example would be having only a white light visible, which means you may be approaching another craft from behind. You are the give-way craft and must take early and substantial action to steer well clear by altering your course and passing at a safe distance on the starboard (right) or port (left). These are just a couple of examples. There is not enough room in this column to talk about all of the directional situations you may encounter while boating at night. You can refer to either the U.S. Coast Guard or Power Squadron courses for detailed information. The following link is a website that does a good job on this topic: I wish everyone a fun and safe boating season. n Dave is President/CEO of Kroeger Marine Construction, which has excelled for decades, offering unmatched experience and quality in boat dock building, erosion control and boat lift installation.

Play On Our Lakes And Stay Safe..... Boating Safety Before You Leave

Check the weather. Let someone know where you are going. Gather all lifesaving devices. Make sure they are in good serviceable condition. Check the fuel and the battery charge. Make sure lights are in good working condition on the boat and trailer. Is the fire extinguisher readily accessible and in good serviceable condition? Put the plug in. Connect trailer safety chains to tow vehicle.

On the Water

Know the aids to navigation and buoy system in your areas. Don’t operate the boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When operating sailboats, be aware of overhead power lines and wires. If someone falls overboard, throw something that will float such as a Personal Floating Device (PFD), raft or cooler. All boats approaching from the right have the right of way. Always anchor from the bow of the boat and pull the anchor before leaving. If the boat capsizes, stay with the boat. If caught in a storm, head into the wind, put on PFD’s and keep passengers low in the boat. .

Register Your Boat! State law prohibits the sale or purchase of watercraft without a valid title issued in the seller’s name to assign over to the purchaser at the time of sale, and all motorized boats, sailboats and outboard motors five HP and greater are required to have current title and registration.

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SPRING 2017 › 97

Stairway Falls


his is one of the five falls that can be viewed during a trip to the Gorges State Park in North Carolina. While it often plays second-fiddle to the more popular Rainbow Falls, which can be viewed by hiking the Rainbow Falls Trail down to the river and then going upstream, a downstream turn (left) leads to three other falls, including Stairway. Most people avoid the downstream area due to a lack of good trails and dangerously steep terrain, but the trail as far as Stairway Falls is decent and gorgeous. Going further


downstream to Sidepocket Falls, and eventually the very dangerous Windy Falls, is best reserved for expert hikers. Heading downstream you will come to the first of five 10-foot waterfalls, one after another. The trail keeps going down to the base, where a number of large rocks and boulders await to sit down, stretch out and enjoy five beautiful waterfalls all working together to form the “Stairway.” The Rainbow Falls trail is listed as a threemile round-trip, but it is about 40 minutes to the viewing area.

DIRECTIONS The Gorges State Park entrance is on NC Hwy. 281, approximately a mile past where NC 281 meets with US 64 in Sapphire, NC. After entering the park, drive 1.6 miles to the parking area. The trail begins at the information kiosk in the lot. However, before reaching the parking lot you will see a new visitor’s center that features maps, information, great exhibits, a friendly staff and bathrooms.

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