Sumter’s Iris Festival is South Carolina’s oldest continuous festival and is ranked among the top festivals in the Southeast. Swan Lake Iris Gardens, with its 120 acres of Iris and many floral attractions, is the main staging area for the event going on Friday through Sunday, May 30.
Events Coordinator for the City of Sumter, Lynn Kennedy, is proud of the event.
Everyone wishes they had a jewel like Swan Lake Iris Gardens in their town. We’re fortunate enough that we’re the only place in the United States that has all eight species of swans. We have a large variety of plants. We have something growing year round. It’s not only in May that we have the beautiful Iris Gardens, we actually have something year round.
As the festival has gained popularity, now a stopping place for bus tours from all over the U.S. and Canada and has been featured in “Southern Living” magazine. The festival has become a Sumter tradition after 70 years, making it one of the oldest festivals in the state.
Kennedy says tourists come to the event from as far away as Japan and Australia.
“We’re actually expecting a total of participation and people visiting, somewhere between 40 and 60-thousand this year. Of course the weather’s going to effect that, but we’re actually expecting between 40 and 60-thousand.”
The festival includes concerts, arts and crafts, a golf tournament, a flower show, food tasting, the crowning of the Iris Festival King and Queen, and a number of contests and children’s activities.
For a complete schedule of events, go online to www.IrisFestival.org .