Collins Janus

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — After a one year absence, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Come-See-Me Festival returned to Rock Hill this spring, with new safety precautions and restructured events due to the pandemic.

The 10 day festival began April 16 and concluded April 24. It’s the largest volunteer festival in South Carolina and it generally features more than 80 different events and hosts upwards of 100,000 people.

The festival holds great importance to the community, especially businesses, as it serves as one of the largest economic events in Rock Hill, since its inception in 1962.

The cancellation of last year’s Come-See-Me Festival, however, did not quell any of the energy people had for the return of the event this year.

According to festival staff, nearly every sponsor of the festival agreed to roll over their investment to the 2021 festival efforts.

Chet Tucker, a member of the Come-See-Me board of governors and a former chair of the festival, said there were many the challenges to overcome to host this year’s event.

“The biggest obstacle that we faced is Come-See-Me, outside of our little office that we have at Glencairn Garden, is we don’t have event space of our own. So we rely on the city of Rock Hill — either downtown, Fountain Park, various parks, Cherry Park and then Winthrop University — to host our events.”

The safety protocols put in place by both the city and the university, in accordance with state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, had to be worked into the planning of the festival and the timeline of setting up events.

As a result, man events had a different look this year, including a drive-through parade, virtual scavenger hunt, drive-in fireworks shows and virtual Broadway night performance.

CN2 news anchor Lucas McFadden, a festival team leader for the Broadway night, said he felt comfortable with the safety precautions in place.

“Based off what I’ve seen with in-person events through Come-See-Me, they have followed and are following all the correct guidelines from the CDC, not only that from the state of South Carolina and even more specifically from the city of Rock Hill. So basically three levels of checks and balances, so I’m totally fine with bringing myself and obviously my family out to many of the in-person events,” said McFadden.

Winthrop student Zac Clary said he was really happy to see people get back out and support the community.

“I think it’s really good for all these small businesses in downtown Rock Hill that really need the business and support,” said Clary. “I think it’s really good for the community as a whole.”

While the festival may have looked a little different, Tucker said it was a big deal for it to return.

“Springtime in Rock Hill, that means Come-See-Me and we’re doing it this year. It will be different. It will be kind of condensed from what we typically do, but Come-See-Me 2021 is happening,” said Tucker.

“I think that, just the fact that we’re able to pull it off, goes a long way to show how much the community of Rock Hill and people care about this festival and want to provide something to the citizens here.”