2016 S.C. Cornbread Festival moves to Spirit Communications Park this weekend

Cornbread is king this weekend as the 2016 South Carolina Cornbread Festival kicks off on May 21. The event will be held at Spirit Communications Park, which organizers say reflects the growth of the festival and the role the ballpark is playing when it comes to attracting business to North Columbia.

The 2016 South Carolina Cornbread Festival will head to Spirit Communications Park this year. (Photo courtesy of North Columbia Business Association)

The 2016 South Carolina Cornbread Festival will head to Spirit Communications Park this year. (Photo courtesy of North Columbia Business Association)

“The impact of the stadium is going to bring millions of economic dollars to North Columbia,” said Sabrina Odom, executive director of the North Columbia Business Association. “We passionately want to generate funds and have people think about coming to do business in our area.”

The Southern food staple — both sweet and savory — will be celebrated with games, contests and samples this Saturday. Visitors can try more than a dozen kinds of cornbread at the festival’s Cornbread Lane. A cornbread-eating contest and a cook-off featuring home “chefs” showcasing their best recipes to win $400 are also on the schedule.

A cornhole tournament, free face-painting and balloons, vendors and live music from five bands round activities for families to enjoy. R&B vocal group The Manhattans, known for their classic hit “Kiss and Say Goodbye,” is the headlining act for the festival.

“This is the beginning of bringing national acts to the North Columbia area,” Odom said.

This year’s Miss S.C. Pearls, Florence native Thomasena Thomas, will meet and greet visitors as she shares her platform of entrepreneurship and domestic violence. Thomas won the SC Cornbread Festival’s scholarship pageant in March.

Thomas, a senior at South Florence High School, is the owner of FairyCakesSC, which sells gourmet cupcakes and confections. She started the business at age 14 with her sister, Thessalonia, because of their love of baking. Thomas plans to study business at the University of South Carolina in the fall and she hopes to partner with schools in Columbia to expand her business.

Thomasena Thomas is this year's Miss Pearls pageant winner and represents the Cornbread Festival. (Photo courtesy of Thomasena Thomas)

Thomasena Thomas is this year’s Miss SC Pearls pageant winner and represents the Cornbread Festival. (Photo courtesy of Thomasena Thomas)

She also plans to promote domestic violence awareness at Saturday’s festival, which she says is something her aunt and grandmother experienced.

“They never told me these things because the crime is silent,” Thomas said. “No one talks about these things.”

More than 5,000 people attended the S.C. Cornbread Festival in 2015, Odom said. She expects to top that number as the festival enters its fourth year, and she hopes to continue to see visitors who travel from other parts of the Southeast.

“I want everyone to know this is a gift to our community,” Odom said.

The 2016 South Carolina Cornbread Festival is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at Spirit Communications Park. General admission is $10, and discounts are available for military members or those who bring a church program. More information can be found online.

Have a comment about this story or an idea for a story you’d like to see? E-mail Kelly Petty at kelly@coladaily.com.

Categories: Hometown, Richland County

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