Irmo preparing for 45th annual Okra Strut Festival

The “Okra Man” in last year’s parade. Karamie Sullivan photo.

One of the biggest festivals in the Midlands is happening in less than two weeks. Irmo will soon be holding its 45th annual Okra Strut Parade and Festival. The events begin Friday, Sept. 28 at 6 p.m., at Irmo Community Park. The opening night is known as “dance night,” according to the Irmo Okra Strut Commission’s Chairman Larry Slaughter.

“It’s a tradition at the Okra Strut for great dance music, and there’s no better funk band around than the Root Doctors. It’s a dance all night, bring the kids, kind of fun time,” he said.

Saturday morning, the parade begins at 9 a.m. down St. Andrew’s Road, ending at Irmo Elementary School. Slaughter said there are usually about 2000 participants in the parade. “The parade is huge, with lots of visitors in it,” he added.

Then the gates open to Irmo Community Park at 10 a.m. for a day of festivities. “You’ll have a festival atmosphere all day long. Of course we have rides, but we also have musicians, jugglers, dancers, and bands,” said Slaughter. There will also be the annual kid’s and adult’s okra eating contest Saturday. According to Slaughter, last year the former children’s okra eating champion unseated the seven-year champion in the adult category.

There are some new additions to the festivities this year Slaughter said he is excited for everyone to see. “The neat thing is the new stuff we’re doing. As we fully explore this park we’re in now, we’ve got some great things going on,” he said. “Dining under the canopy is a first this year, it’s a tree area with twinkling lights. You get a good view of the band but it’s a good place to have dinner.”

He also said there are new attractions, and a new band performing Saturday night called The Weight Band, from Woodstock, New York. “This year, Saturday night is a big headlining music act. It’s a band that’s never toured in this area before. And opening for them is our own Rob Crosby,” said Slaughter.

For more information about the parade and festival, visit

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Irmo, Lexington County