This year’s Blue Ridge Fest will be held May 13-14 at the cooperative’s outdoor facility in Pickens.
Each year’s festival is planned, managed and staffed by Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative employees.
“This is such a special time for us,” said Denise McCormick with Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. “It’s such a wonderful, wonderful festival.”
The festival has grown each year beyond the wildest imaginings of its organizers. Early in the festival’s history, Blue Ridge employees hoped they could raise $50,000 to give to local charities.
“Last year we raised $151,000,” McCormick said.
Over the fest history’s, it has raised about $1.2 million dollars for local charities.
“That’s tremendous,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
A committee selects the charities that will benefit from each year’s fest, selecting the 13 charities from a large pool of applicants.
This year’s charities are the Anderson Free Clinic, Anderson Interfaith Ministries, the Golden Corner Food Bank, Haven of Rest Ministries, Helping Hands of Clemson, Hidden Treasure Christian School, Oconee Presbyterian Service Fund, Pickens County Meals on Wheels, Rosa Clark Medical Clinic, Sabrina House Children’s Charity, Samaritan Health Clinic of Pickens County, SHARE (Sunbelt Human Advancement Resources) and United Christian Ministries
“These are agencies that are local to us,” she said. “They’re in the area that we serve and they provide the basic needs for people that need it.”
Often, charity officials tell Blue Ridge staff that the Blue Ridge Fest funds “are the only things keeping our doors open,” McCormick said.
Sponsors have already committed $142,000 to charities through this year’s Blue Ridge Fest.
“We’re just thrilled that it has become so big, because there’s such a need for it,” McCormick said.
Each Blue Ridge Fest kicks off with a Beach Night Cruise-In. This year’s Beach Night will be held 6 p.m. — 10:30 p.m. Friday, May 13 at the cooperative’s covered outdoor facility.
The event is the upstate’s largest cruise-in event with hundreds of classic car owners showing off their cool rides.
Entertainment will be provided by Jim Quick and Coastline and The Flashbacks.
“We have people come year after year for (Jim Quick and Coastline),” McCormick said. “We bring them back because people love them.”
The Flashbacks are based out of Easley.
“A great group that has also performed for us many times,” McCormick said.
This year’s headliner is the legendary Chubby Checker.
“We are thrilled to have Chubby Checker this year,” McCormick said. “He was a huge performer back in the sixties,” McCormick said, adding that at one point in his long career Checker had five albums in the Top 10 at the same time.
In honor of Checker’s signature song “The Twist,” the Beach Night Cruise-In evening will feature a twist contest.
“Somebody who comes and twists for us is going to go home with $500,” McCormick said.
On Friday night, Blue Ridge Fest will be giving away $5,000 in cash. Raffle tickets are $5 each.
The fest’s annual charity motorcycle ride will be held. Saturday, May 14. Each year’s ride usually attracts more than 500 bikes, she said. Registrations begin at 8:30 a.m. with the first bike out at 9:15 a.m.
The charity ride is a poker run. Prizes include $1,000 best hand, $500 second best and $200 for the low hand. A 50/50 cash giveaway will also be held after the ride. Winners will be announced at 2:30 p.m.
Rides will follow a 100-mile route through the mountains and foothills of the Upstate.
Registration is $25 and will be held rain or shine.
On Saturday, the cooperative will be raffling off a 2011 Polaris Ranger XP with trailer. Raffle tickets are $5.