By HEATHER WALTERS
The Colleton County Rice Festival will happen his year, despite earlier fears of the festival being cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual festival will be held on June 4 – 5 of 2021, according to Josh Bell, chairman of the Rice Festival Committee. Bell confirmed the festival time change on Saturday, April 3rd, when he spoke to a crowd gathered at the Hampton Street Auditorium for the annual Rice Festival Scholarship Beauty Pageant. However, the new festival dates still have to be approved by Walterboro City Council, who was scheduled to meet and discuss the Rice Festival schedule on Tuesday, March 6th.
That meeting occurred after this newspaper’s print deadline.
“We expect council to approve it,” said Bell.
Although the festival will happen, there will be additional changes to the festival’s traditional line-up, as part of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols.
This year, all festival vendors will be on one side of the street, instead of on both sides of the street, said Bell. This is being done to create more social distancing for both the vendors and for festival attendees.
“This is also because we have fewer vendors this year,” said Bell. “The time change has created a conflict with some of our vendors. They have other festivals already booked in June that they are going to attend,” he said.
There will also be fewer food vendors at the Rice Festival this year, as part of COVID-19 restrictions.
Additionally, there will be no Taste of Walterboro this year. Traditionally, this event is a part of the routine lineup for the Rice Festival. The Taste brought people together to sample food from area organizations, residents and professionals.
However, Bell confirms that this year’s 2021 festival will still feature the Rice Festival Parade, the Rice Festival Run and the family fireworks show. “We are still able to do a lot of what makes this event special for our community,” he said, on Saturday.
More details about the 2021 Rice Festival will be available soon, as council and the festival committee prepare a new timeline for the two-day event.
The festival did also host the annual Rice Festival Scholarship Beauty Pageant, which was held on Saturday, April 3rd. See a related story in this issue for beauty pageant winners and photos.
Those attending the Rice Festival will still be required to follow safety practices that are related to COVID-19, as required by Colleton County Council and Walterboro City Council ordinances. These current safety practices include wearing a face mask or face covering.
Changes to the 2021 Rice Festival
The Friday Rice Festival will be held 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.;
Saturday will open at 10 a.m., with Fireworks at 9 p.m.;
There will be no carnival, no car show, and no Taste of Walterboro;
Food vendors will be spaced 10 feet apart;
No loose condiments are available (packs only):
There will be no tables or seating provided;
Craft booths on Hampton Street will be required to close at 7 p.m. each day;
Arts and Crafts, sales, and information booths will be spaced and the vendors will have to wear masks;
The Fireworks Show will require social distancing and attendees must wear masks.