Summer celebration in Laurens

LAURENS – The Laurens Summer Celebration – formerly known as the Laurens Wine Festival – is no longer just for wine.

It’s also for getting to ride in a parade.

Amanda Tendal, of Laurens, got to go along with her husband Brad and son Kyler, 4, on one of the Laurens Fire Department’s trucks.

There is a definite advantage to riding on a float rather than sitting along the route.

“You get to see how many people come out,” she said.

Since the fire trucks are positioned at the end of the parade, the staging area offered her family the best of both worlds. She said they also got to see the rest of the parade go by.

For Tendal, it’s a continuation of a tradition.

“I grew up here,” she said. “Now my kids get to do it and I even get to throw candy to some of my classmates.”

Of course, there is the wine – and Bees Yak Mead.

It’s a product of the River Valley Orchards in Humboldt, and features a whimsical bee on the label that’s, well, yakking. Co-owner Nicole Gibson said they had wanted to try making a mead for several years and when offered the chance to make a bulk honey purchase, went for it.

Not every wine drinker is familiar with it.

“The people who do know what a mead is usually like it,” she said.

She said it appeals particularly to drinkers who don’t like sweet dessert wines.

Teresa Bunting, of Havelock, came to sample the variety of vintages and flavors.

She really liked the Winearita being offered by Penoach Viner. It’s crushed ice with wine.

“It’s delicious,” she said. “It’s the perfect summer drink.”

She’s been attending the event for almost all of the seven years it’s been held. She’s seen a positive change in that time.

“It’s more diverse,” she said. “I like all the choices.”

Kerrie Woodley, of Laurens, helped organize the wine tasting.

She said it’s a fundraiser to help send several high school students and a guardian to the sister city of Laurens, France, for a cultural exchange.

A wine fan herself, she not only likes the samples on hand, she enjoys another aspect.

“I love the unusual names,” she said.

She also does a bit of her shopping there.

“A couple of cases will go home with me,” she said. “It will have to last till next year or until I visit the winery.”

While the adults are sampling wine, games and food are on tap in the park.

Emilee Spangler, 12, of Laurens, was doing spin art for the first time.

“It was cool,” she said. “I like how you paint like this.”

She was a participant in the parade too. She walked with her Girl Scout troop.

Amber Evans, of Laurens, was helping the children make their spin art.

She was ready for the inevitable spray and splatter of colorful paint.

“I’m prepared to get messy,” she said. “I’ll just go jump in the pool.”

In addition to helping with the spin art, she also watched the parade.

“That’s about all I got done today,” she said.

Well, almost.

“I got a funnel cake too,” she said.

Other Saturday events included a street dance and demonstration of the hydraulic extraction equipment by the Laurens Fire Department.

Today’s events include brunch from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Laurens Golf and Country Club and a 10 a.m. church service.