The South Carolina Poultry Festival began as a brainchild of the infamous Sara Shealy, of Shealy’s BBQ. One morning at a Leesville Merchants meeting, Mrs. Shealy, our Mother Hen, wanted to do something to recognize the largest industry in the Batesburg-Leesville area including the “ridge” areas of Saluda, Ridge Spring, Monetta and other small towns located on the ridge. She recommended the Ridge Poultry Festival, and so it was born in 1987. The first festival, a one-day event, was relatively small with approximately 10,000 people attending.
Courtesy bags or thank you bags were made for poultry growers and poultry farms in the area. Columbia Farms, Amick Farms and Gentry Poultry were a few of the first sponsors of the event. There was a small carnival, a parade, craft vendors and music. Accompanying that was a pie eating contest, a chicken calling contest and many other activities.
The festival grew from its roots into what it is today, The South Carolina Poultry Festival, one of the most attended festivals in the state. The festival still remains humble and retains a great deal from the first festival; however, it has grown exponentially with over 90 craft vendors, 100 plus unit parade, 3 stages of continuous entertainment and an indescribable Pyromusical, fireworks in sync with music! The attendance over the three-day event has exceeded 100,000 people. The steering committee has grown from 7 people to 30 people. The carnival has doubled in size, a chicken cooking contest, a tractor and car show and a road race has been added, and much more.
In addition to the “Thank You” to the poultry industry, the festival has also become one of the best economic development tools for the town of Batesburg-Leesville. Our invitation to the festival is extended to you and your family, come join us, sit on the front porch, enjoy a refreshing glass of sweet tea and stay a while.