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Sweet sounds on a Saturday at Soda City Market

By Danielle Kennedy

/ Carolina Reporter

It’s a crisp, chilly Saturday morning on Columbia’s Main Street at the Soda City Market. Vendors with an array of goods from beaded necklaces to creamed blueberry honey line the streets seeking to lure shoppers over to their tents and tables for a sell.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of people, well-manicured canines and playing children, the sweet sound of a violin breaks through the cheerful noise of the weekly market scene.

A small, 11-year-old girl launches into a sonata by Handel and runs her bow expertly up and down her instrument.

Danka Ndubuisi, who has been playing since the age of five, stands on the median, slightly elevated above the passersby, completely focused on making sure the vibrations sent through her violin are perfect. One hand strums and plucks while the other draws the bow across the strings. Tippers bow before her to place money in her violin case, behind the sign “For our music lessons.”

“It sounds like she’s playing staccato,” said Melodik Rukus. “She’s good,” as he passes Danka playing her violin. Others passing by either remain silent and enjoy her playing or let her know how great she sounds.

“Wow, that’s beautiful.”

She performs at the weekly Soda City Market because she wants to raise money to continue her lessons at University of South Carolina.

Her mother, Malgorzata Ndubuisi, (pronounced Dew-BU-see), stands a few paces off under a large tree just to the right of Danka to watch and listen to her daughter’s lovely sounds.

“Danka started lessons at USC in the Suzuki Strings,” said Malgorzata Ndubuisi. “I was looking for a place for my kids to learn music and USC offers this program for very young children with private lessons.”

Danka, whose mother is Polish and father is Nigerian, is the third of six children — 12-year-old twin brothers Milka and Slawka, 9-year-old Eliasz, seven-year-old Izaisz and four-year-old Bozenka. All are home-schooled and attend the Suzuki Strings program at USC.

Danka can be seen performing in the midst of a crowd of strangers at Soda City sometimes twice or three times a month depending on her schedule.

When she grows up, Danka said, “I want to be a violin teacher, anywhere.”

Artist Tyrone Geter: Searching for a universal language

By Taylor Halle
Carolina Reporter

By his own admission, Tyrone Geter says he is not the best-known artist. His work is not commercial, and he does not paint what will sell in galleries.

But the 72-year-old painter and Benedict College professor is experiencing a late-life renaissance in the art world as people discover the deep revelations in his larger-than-life pieces.

“My work is not supposed to allow you to walk past and not feel. I believe that one of our problems in society is that we’ve learned not to care,” Geter said. “We see something happening to someone, we say ‘oh, wow, that’s too bad,’ and you go on about your business and that keeps happening. Mine was to make us feel like we are one with the human race.”

The power of Geter’s world view and imagination is on view at the Columbia Museum of Art, where “Enduring Spirit: The Art of Tyrone Geter” runs through June 11.

Will South, chief curator of the Columbia museum, says Geter explores through his art the thorny issue of uniting different ethnicities in America and understanding each other without stereotypes.

“Tyrone takes that on,” South said. “He’s not a politician, and yet he is. By default, you are making statements that people listen to, and that’s powerful.”

The size of his exhibit’s opening night audience attested to this.

“It was black, white, but beyond black, white, it was young and old,” South said. “Young people of any color or any background, we have a hard time getting into the museum, because they’re all about their cell phone and their social life.

“Some of them were his students – that says something. They love their teacher, they like what he has to say.”

The power of family

Geter’s early years were spent in segregated Anniston, Alabama. Raised by a single mother and surrounded by two sisters, Geter realized the power of women early on. Today, that theme is reflected in his work, which often depicts outsize auras of hair on his female subjects.

“My mother believed firmly that her kids could do things even though she came out of a third-grade education,” he said. “But she believed that that third-grade education allowed her to be a domestic worker.”

His earliest exposure to art came from his eldest sister, who enjoyed drawing comic books and using the “Draw me” instructional booklets of the times. After watching her sit at the table and work, he decided to try it for himself.

Geter’s family later moved to Dayton, Ohio, seeking a safer life as an African-American family trying to survive in a time of institutionalized southern racism. The young and curious artist attended Roosevelt High School, where he met Ruth Nincehelser, a teacher that would become an instrumental figure in his early career as an artist.

“Those students that she thought could do art, that had possibility, she drove us relentlessly,” Geter said.

In his senior year of high school, he still hadn’t learned how to drive a car, so he decided he would quit art and take driver’s training. But Nincehelser called his mother and implored her not to allow her son to abandon his art.

His teacher asked “if she could find any other way to let me take driver’s training, and if she had to she would help her, and I think she actually did,” Geter said. He remained in art and his mother worked extra hours so he could learn to drive outside of school.

After graduating high school, Geter attended Ohio University in hopes he could master painting the figure and realistic drawing. Here, he met his Nigerian-born wife, Hauwa, another integral figure who would eventually lead him to Africa, a place that influenced his art ad represented a turning point in his artistic career.

After they married, the couple moved to Hauwa’s home in Nigeria near her family. Their two daughters, now grown were born there.

“When I left Ohio, I had no concept of Africa.  I’m not even sure I had even met an African in my life from Dayton, Ohio,” Geter said.

Once there, he landed a job teaching art at Ahmadu Bello University, the biggest university in West Africa at the time. They stayed for seven years, moving back to the U.S. because of Nigeria’s crumbling economy, and the need to start their daughters in American school. Most importantly, he wanted to give his daughters a chance to meet his family and learn his side of the culture.

After his time in Nigeria, his art transformed into a search for a universal language.

“For most of my life as an adult artist, that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” Geter said. “Find a way to speak a universal language that will talk to anybody that sees it, and this is the first time I feel like I’ve gotten close.”

For a long time, Geter said his main subjects were family, because his mother, sisters, wife and children represented such a powerful force in his life. He also became a successful illustrator of children’s books and now claims nearly a dozen to his credit.

For the last 17 years, he has taught art to students at Benedict College, a private historically black college in downtown Columbia. He and his family lived in the Waverly area near the campus until his wife’s death in 2004. She was his ballast – and also the organizer of his many projects – so he determined he could not stay in the home where they had been so happy and raised their family.

He moved to the little community of Elgin, a 30-minute commute from the college, where it is unlikely his neighbors know an artist resides in their midst.  There he creates art in his cluttered second-floor studio and contemplates how to approach the big questions of life.    

My life has been one big wall

Geter has rarely listened to voices except those inside of his own head. So he has been shocked by the response to the two dozen pieces that hangs on the walls of the Columbia Museum of Art.

People have come to him, some crying, saying how much the paintings move them emotionally.

Geter said that’s what he has been trying to do all along.

“I’m trying to make you get past the fact that this might be a black face,” Geter said. “That face is the same thing your mother went through or your father went through.”

“If I’m talking about any particular issue, you can darn well believe that whites, Hispanics, everybody got that same issue, so when you look at it, that’s where they go; they go to their own experience with that. They don’t see that black face anymore, they see themselves. It may not be a universal statement but it’s mine.”

The path for Geter has been filled with more road blocks than most artists might go through. Although he’s been featured in other exhibitions including museums and galleries in Boston and New York, Columbia has been one of the most important.

“What I do, it’s never on that cutting edge, what they’re demanding out there. I’m always at odds with the market, so that’s one continuous wall for me,” Geter said.

He remembers a director at the Aiken Art Museum who told him he was going to struggle his whole life, because Geter’s work is difficult to pigeonhole. He said when galleries can’t do that, it’s hard to find a track record for selling what he does.

“I don’t know how to get beyond it either and at this point in my career I really don’t care about that wall anymore,” Geter said. “My thing is that I can live with me. I think there was a time I really hated myself, but right now I’m OK with me.

“I know this that I’ve done the best I could. I know my mother raised me to treat people better than anything else, they’re the only thing that counts in the world. Nothing else matters but people.”

Discovering a new passion

One of the lessons Geter says he tries to teach young artists is that the best thing they can do for themselves is learn technique.

“I don’t care what anyone says, learn technique and you’re free. You’re free to go any place you want to go.”

This has proven to be true for Geter, as his portfolio is filled with not only just paintings, but other mediums such as charcoal, pastels, torn paper and ceramics.

But one theme that stays consistent among all of these is the subjects’ hair. In almost every piece, Geter weaves in wispy, playful and exaggerated hair, sometimes even resembling the roots and branches of trees. He connects it back to his youth in a household full of women.

His two daughters grew up washing their hair and allowing it to air dry, which was a common thing among African-American women in Nigeria. But when they moved back to Ohio, they soon realized others were confused by or disapproving of the curly manes.

Geter remembers his oldest daughter decided to ride around on her bike so her hair would dry faster, but the other neighborhood kids quickly began harassing her.

“She came back in the house, she was so hurt. After that she wouldn’t go outside with her hair like that again. That was something that was just tragic, that’s a loss of innocence. It was really, really tragic that we could do that to each other,” Geter said.

Years later, Geter was working on a piececalled “Target,” which he recalls being his first to incorporate his signature hair illustrations. The incident with his daughter’s hair popped back into his mind.

“Women are being targeted for looks, body types, all kinds of things. That’s where it started and after that I just kept using it,” Geter said. “It’s not deep it’s just meaningful. When I was growing up, women were a major force in our community.”

Mastering the craft of voice

Peter Chametzky, the director and art history professor at USC’s School of Visual Art and Design, discovered Geter’s work just a couple years after moving to Columbia from New York. He says Geter is a master draftsman and skilled artist, and successfully uses these skills to make statements about identity and counter stereotypes.

“He’s dealing with textures a lot and he’s dealing with, you know, it’s not conventional drawing in that he’s drawing both with charcoal, colored pastels, as well as using materials like torn paper as drawing material in itself,” Chametzky said. “So collaging it together and that kind of materiality I think appeals to people. You’re seeing that work of art as an object and seeing it as more than just a picture, it’s not a picture, and it’s not like a photograph, it’s got texture, it’s got this kind of physical presence.”

He points out Geter deals with subject matter that is especially important in what the United States currently deals with today.

“He’s not followed various art world trends. He’s followed his own path and that’s what, in a sense, I think most really strong artists do. They’ve got to follow whatever path their own artistic will guides them to and that’s the way to make strong art,” Chametzky said.

Geter believes he has found his voice, and more importantly, a way to get others to listen to it.

“I do art because I have a right to speak. You don’t have to listen to me, but you have to allow me to speak. And if I want to reach a mass of people, how was I going to do it? All I had was art.”

Amid the grapevines: Vineyard owners love life close to nature

By Micaela Wendell
Carolina Reporter

Part two of an occasional series

At this juncture in his life, winemaker Richard LaBarre expected to be relaxing on his version of Easy Street.

“I like to say that when we got this place 12 years ago, my five-year plan was to get a white suit, a rocking chair, a Cuban cigar and a glass of wine. That was my five-year plan,” said LaBarre, 69. “Twelve years — I’m still in T-shirts and blue jeans.”

Over that time, LaBarre and his wife, Laura, transformed a muddy cow pasture into Enoree River Winery in Newberry, planting 800 grape vines with the assistance of family and friends. He said that while they take their business seriously, they don’t take themselves seriously. Jokes, smiles and Southern charm are the norm on their property.

Richard LaBarre, co-owner of Enoree River Winery, considers himself more of a beer drinker but appreciates the business of wine.

The operation is one of more than a dozen vineyards and wineries scattered throughout South Carolina, ventures that have become agritourism stops for visitors. Wine has become a way of life for these independent grape growers, and it is often a family and community affair.

The LaBarres consider themselves the only full-time workers at the vineyard, but friends and family have been contributing to the winery since the beginning. Richard LaBarre’s brother moved from Florida to work with them for a few years, and the LaBarre’s two grown children also pitch in. Laura LaBarre’s father and uncle often worked downstairs below the tasting room on the vats and equipment.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without everybody’s help,” she said. “’Trade you a couple hours for a bottle of wine!’”

The crucial help from loved ones sometimes inspires the LaBarres in naming their wines. “The Barbarian” was named after their friend Barbara, who helps out on Saturdays in the tasting room. They have named wines for the pets on the property.

Deep Water Vineyard, nestled on Wadmalaw Island near Charleston, is also very family-focused.

Jesse Freiwald co-owns the business with his wife, Andrea, who helps with marketing and is the chief financial officer of the property. They purchased the vineyard, formerly known as Irvin-House Vineyard, from Jim and Ann Irvin in 2015. Their first year as owners, he said, was filled with adjustments.

“It was very busy. It was a good busy, though,” the South Dakota native said.

Andrea Freiwald has a separate business of her own, so she splits her time between both locations while Jesse Freiwald works full-time on the property with hired help. To further adapt their lives to the vineyard, the Freiwalds homeschool their three young boys to balance the demands of the farm with the need to provide a quality education for their children.

The Freiwalds moved from Minnesota after feeling a calling to the South, and in their first year as vineyard owners when Hurricane Matthew hit in October 2016. The winery closed to the public a week before the storm hit. The Freiwalds boarded up all the buildings on the property and evacuated to ensure their boys’ safety.

The vineyard at Enoree River Winery in Newberry used to be a cow field. Winery owners Richard and Laura LaBarre enlisted the help of their friends and family to prepare the land and plant their first vines 12 years ago.

“We did have some grapes left on the vines when the hurricane came, and we pretty much picked most of what we needed, but there was potential to go back out and re-harvest,” Freiwald said. “After the hurricane came, it was pretty much done.”

The family returned to their home to find they had lost 40 trees on the property, and 40 muscadine vine trellises had blown over. The water level also rose uncomfortably high during the storm, so they worried that salt water could have possibly entered the field.

“Did that actually affect the grapes or not? We’ll kind of wait and see,” Freiwald said. “I think we’ll be OK. Again, it’s the hardiness of the grape.”

Maintaining a vineyard is a tough job even with perfect weather, so the Freiwalds started their own tradition to bring good fortune to their vines each season. The Boots, Bottles and a Blessing festival hosts food trucks, music and a visit from a local priest who is also a family friend.

“He’ll come out and literally bless the vines and bless the buildings and bless the people and pray over us,” he said. “And we really value that.”

Living and working with nature

While vineyards can be buzzing with visitors for tastings and special events, these often-rural destinations provide a step into the countryside, which can be a welcome relief for city dwellers wishing for a quick getaway.

“I spent most of my adult life in Columbia, and your neighbors are two feet away from you and you can’t see the stars,” LaBarre said. “(Now) I got cows as neighbors and I can see the stars.”

A thick forest frames the Enoree River Winery vineyard, and the cows next door can hardly be seen — or smelled — through the nettles. A wooden wedding pavilion rests at the far end of the vineyard, and the tasting room and winery come complete with an open-air porch and rocking chairs.

Dusty is one of the LaBarre family’s pets at Enoree River Winery, and he spends his days wandering the vineyard and relaxing on the porch. They named their Viognier wine, “Dusty’s Road,” after him.

The LaBarres’ pet dogs and cat can often be found wandering the grounds. A few wines have taken their names, like Sweet Tipsy Rose (after their cat, Tipsy) and Dusty’s Road (from their brown dog, Dusty).

When the vineyard isn’t filled with the chatter of visitors, guests can hear the local wildlife loud and clear through the fresh country air. On Sundays, if all the work gets done, the LaBarres sometimes build a fire and enjoy a glass of wine by it.

“It’s not a bad life,” Richard LaBarre said.

Deep Water Vineyard is also nestled in a secluded swath of nature. The black metal front gate to the property greets visitors after a 15-minute drive down Wadmalaw Island — a trip set against a distant saltwater backdrop and lined with trees draped in Spanish moss.

The tin-roofed Firefly Distillery rests between the vineyard and the winery’s tasting room, and a porch with string lights spans the two buildings. The yard out back hosts two tree swings and a covered picnic area with cornhole boards. On the vineyard fence’s gate, a painted metal welcomes people to “stomp on in” and see the vines close-up.

Ida Claire is a friendly cow at Deep Water Vineyard who lives among the vines. She spends her days munching on vine canes that have fallen to the ground.

Freiwald says that the placement of the vineyard works to his advantage, especially during South Carolina’s unpredictable spring weather.

“We’re actually in a unique location, too, on the island here,” he said. “We get some of the maritime effects just because we have water nearby, and so that helps keep us a little warmer.”

This lifestyle once seemed like the stuff of fantasy to Freiwald.

“It has been a dream of mine. I just didn’t think it would come to fruition this early,” he said.

Wire coops by the parking lot house numerous breeds of chickens, and the roosters’ back-and-forth crowing keep the front yard anything but silent.

Rabbits can be found huddling in a hutch out back, and visitors can meet a goat, a pig and free-running hens in the side garden. Anyone who decides to hop into the vineyard needs to shut the gate behind them — Ida Claire, the resident cow with a name from the Southern saying “Well, I declare,” might be nearby.

Although care for the animals and the vines can be long and difficult at times, the final fruits of his labor make it all worth it, Freiwald says.

“It’s really cool to take something from…seed to berry or from pruning to seeing through a season,” he said, “And then picking it and making wine — seeing something through from beginning to end is really satisfying.

Working and living on a vineyard used to be a distant dream for Jesse and Andrea Freiwald, the owners of Deep Water Vineyard near Charleston. Two years after moving to the South from their Midwest home, the Freiwalds bought Irvin House Vineyard and made it their own.

Looking to the future

Richard LaBarre says that while Enoree River Winery’s business is on the rise, it doesn’t come without its challenges.

“The more money you make, the harder you have to work, and the more money you have to spend to make that money,” he said.

Enoree River Winery has served as a wedding venue at a pavilion on the far side of the vineyard, so the LaBarres are working on saving up money to build a 5,800 square-foot barn to expand and host wedding receptions and other events.

They also are working on getting signs on the interstate to direct travelers to the remote vineyard.

Freiwald at Deep Water Vineyard hopes to bring in European “vinifera” varietals to start working on Old World flavors. He also wants to partner with Firefly Distillery, home of the popular sweet tea vodka, to create a fortified wine with one of the sweet red blends.

“I think that would be really good if we were to have the distillery make it into brandy for us,” he said. “Then we can bring it back and put it into our wine like a port-style wine.”

He also plans to start oaking red wines with wood chips (in lieu of using actual oak barrels), which adds a bitter, acidic quality to the wine called “tannin.”

“There’s a lot of things that we’d love to experiment with,” he said. “And it just comes down to time and space and money.”

Enoree River Winery, at 1650 Dusty Road in Newberry, is open Thursday through Saturday from noon until 6 p.m., Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday through Wednesday by appointment.

Deep Water Vineyard, 6775 Bears Bluff Road, is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Bagels and lox: A southern Jewish deli provides touch of northern culture

Harvey Nathan making sandwich

Philadelphia native Harvey Nathan prepares each sandwich by hand and works open to close every day, six days a week.

By Joseph Crevier

Carolina News

If you walk into Hello Deli in North Charleston, you might forget you’re in South Carolina. It’s a slice of Philadelphia and that’s no coincidence; that’s exactly the atmosphere owner Harvey Nathan has aimed to establish for nearly three decades.

“We’ve had people that have been coming to us for 25 years,” Nathan said. “On a Saturday morning, the same people come in and get here five in the morning waiting for me.”

Bagel and Lox

Hello Deli uses lox imported from Atlanta and bagels from Brookyln, N.Y. Owner Harvey Nathan says the New York water used to make the bagel dough is what makes them superior to bagels made in South Carolina.

They come to the glass-fronted brick deli for breakfasts of lox, onions and eggs, and New York bagels stuffed with lox and cream cheese. Lunchtime patrons, some sporting Yankees and Phillies baseball caps, munch on thick sandwiches packed with kosher pastrami and corned beef, roast brisket and tongue.

Nathan left his native Philadelphia in 1971 to open a meatpacking business in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This was followed by delicatessen ventures in Maryland, Virginia and, finally, South Carolina. Nathan tested the waters in three other South Carolina towns before settling into the North Charleston location, where Jewish culture has a lengthy history. It worked.

“Are the eggs different? No, it’s the BS, it’s the Northern culture versus the Southern culture,” Nathan said.

With each move, Nathan brought his Philadelphia flare, along with a variety of recipes for traditional Jewish foods like corned beef, pastrami and lox.

“I haven’t changed; I’m still the Northern wise guy. The people here are more welcoming; it’s a much softer touch,” the affable, bearded Nathan said.

The first Jewish settlers arrived in Charleston in the 17th century, finding a surprising degree of religious tolerance, a warn climate and a welcoming economic climate.

“Charleston is by far the most historic. It has the early settlement; it has the first congregation which is Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, which has been active since it was founded in 1749,” said Dale Rosengarten, founding director of the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston.

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is one of the first five colonial congregations and the first reform congregation in America. It started as an Orthodox congregation and later committed to Reform Judaism in 1841.

“What’s happening in Charleston is the proliferation of Jewish organizations,” Rosengarten said. “The three basic divisions are Orthodoxy, Conservative and Reform and Charleston has had all three since post-World War Two.”

As Jews made their way to South Carolina, they brought not only their religion and customs, but also their foods. As Nathan knows, people like to eat.

Harvey Nathan making sandwich

Many of Hello Deli’s meats are kosher, but Nathan says he buys them just because they taste better. Because of Charleston’s small observant Jewish population, he says the customer base isn’t large enough to be fully kosher.

On King Street, downtown Charleston’s prime tourist destination, Jewish merchants have thrived for more than a century. Their presence dates to the early 1900s, when King Street was full pawn shops, shoe repair stores and furniture stores.

Today, Charleston, known as the Holy City for its soaring church spires, is among the nation’s top tourist destinations. King Street has blossomed into an upscale shopping and dining hub that draws thousands.

King Street is central to boutiques and restaurants, many of which remain in the hands of Jewish business owners.  D’Alessandro’s Pizza, an Italian pizzeria, and Juanita Greenberg’s Nacho Royale, a popular sports bar and Mexican restaurant, are only examples of the Jewish-operated businesses.

“It may just be numbers, there’s such a huge tourist business and so many people come from the Northeast, there’s a very substantial Jewish tourism business,” says Rosengarten.

Nathan’s establishment is seven miles and a 10-minute commute from hip King Street, but that doesn’t deter tourists who flock to his establishment along with regular customers from nearby North Charleston City Hall and other businesses.

“My daughter and her husband have a vacation house in South Carolina, so we like to come here when I visit. The doctors say I shouldn’t eat food like this, but I always get the pastrami sandwich because it’s so damn good,” Martin Annese, 94, said.

Nathan’s infamous bagel, cream cheese and lox sandwich isn’t special because of the lox, but the bagels that he has delivered from Brooklyn. The bagels arrive as dough and Nathan boils and steams them in-house. He says every ingredient is the same as in a South Carolina bagel, but the New York water used to make the dough is the difference maker.

Although Hello Deli is a Jewish deli, Nathan doesn’t cater to strictly kosher customers. Nathan said roughly five to eight percent of Jews in Charleston are observant, meaning they eat only kosher foods, so the majority would not pay premium prices.

“They’re not going to pay the up price for a kosher sandwich, unless it’s right on the way. They say, ‘I’m here, shucks I can have it,’” he said.

And to be fully kosher, the establishment must be supervised by a rabbi, who checks the kitchen and all ingredients, Rosengarten said.

Nathan is preparing for the upcoming Passover holiday, where he does some catering business. Rosengarten said Passover is the most widely celebrated holiday among the Jewish faithful. The holiday celebrates the liberation of Israeli slaves from ancient Egypt. It’s the only Jewish holiday that isn’t celebrated at the synagogue, but rather at home with friends and family.

But even if you are not Jewish, Nathan’s Hello Deli offers up a slice of Jewish culture inside of a delectable bagel.

Unpredictable weather, breaking buds part of S.C. winemaking life

By Micaela Wendell
Carolina Reporter

First in an occasional series

April showers may bring May flowers, but March sunshine brings out the buds on the growing number of grape vines planted across South Carolina.

An unseasonably warm February seemed to mark an early spring for the state’s vintners. Then temperatures plunged below freezing in the second week of March, causing worry for those who cultivate wine grapes.

Delicate buds emerge from the woody canes at the beginning of the wine grape growing season, called “bud break.” Frost can kill the buds and strong winds can knock the sprouts off the vine. Once a bud is gone, it likely won’t produce fruit for the rest of the season.

“It’s a bit of a concern,” said Jesse Freiwald, the owner and chief executive officer of Deep Water Vineyard in the South Carolina Lowcountry. “I’m not concerned that the vines will die or anything. I’m just concerned if the buds get frozen. Then, they’re not going to produce as much.”

Deep Water Vineyard is among more than a dozen commercial vineyards in South Carolina, ventures that have combined agritourism with the development of distinctive wines that owners hope will appeal to a growing market.  Millennials surpassed baby boomers in 2015 for their share of the country’s total wine consumption, and there are now more than 78 million millennials who are now 21 or older.

But before those wines are bottled, there’s the weather to battle.

In March and April, all wine vines go into a stage called “bud break,” when tiny, extremely delicate buds emerge from the woody canes. If they are destroyed before they can flower, they most likely won’t produce any fruit until the next growing season. If enough buds are destroyed, it could impact the profit of the final harvest.

Bad breaks for buds

Wine grape buds are so tender that even a strong breeze could pluck them from the vine. Cold snaps could be especially devastating. So how do winemakers in the Palmetto State protect these precious buds from the cold?

“Pray,” Freiwald said. “There’s not a lot you can do unless you are doing something extreme.”

Large, commercial vineyards sometimes hire helicopters or employ massive fans to blow hot air over the buds until the freeze subsides, even at the risk of accidentally knocking the sprouts off the vines. Some growers spray water over the vines to create a preemptive shield of ice on the buds, but even that doesn’t guarantee their survival.

A few of Freiwald’s vines were in bud break when the freeze warnings occurred. But across the state in Newberry, Enoree River Winery owners Richard LaBarre and his wife, Laura, said their vines remained dormant despite the warm February temperatures. If there were buds in the vineyard, the LaBarres said they were resigned to let nature take its course.

Jesse Freiwald and his wife bought the Irvin-House Vineyard from Jim and Ann Irvin in 2015, and they rebranded it as Deep Water Vineyard. They kept the same vines and staff but placed their own twists and personal touches on the property and products.

“What can you do?” Laura LaBarre said. “We don’t have an irrigation system to spray them with water like they do, you know, with peach trees.”

She also said that if a freeze hurt their yearly harvest, they would buy juice to supplement the crop during the winemaking process.

“Thank goodness they haven’t budded yet,” Richard LaBarre said, of the muscadine vines that are native to the southeastern U.S. and known for their thick skinned-grapes and hardy nature.

Muscadine wine

Laura LaBarre, who also is a teacher at Mid-Carolina High School in Prosperity, says that many customers have fond memories of wild muscadines, often recalling forays into the woods as children to pick the grapes.

“They always talk about stuff that relates back to their childhood,” she said. “I think it just brings back some really nice memories for a lot of people.”

Muscadines are a different species than European or “Old World” grapes, called “vinifera,” such as chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Vinifera grapes are much more delicate and susceptible to the pests and diseases that muscadines are resistant to.

“They want to grow, I guess, if that makes sense,” Freiwald said. “There’s not a lot that can really harm them.”

Laura LaBarre, co-owner of Enoree River Winery, enjoys a glass of cabernet sauvignon. Her winery doesn’t “oak” the red wines in barrels or with wood chips — a choice that gives their wine a smoother sip while still being dry.

In the mid-1800s, American grape vines shipped across the Atlantic almost ruined the European wine scene. The American vines carried diseases and a root-eating aphid called phylloxera, and the devastated Old World vineyards were saved by grafting American rootstock onto their vines.

Deep Water Vineyard, nestled on Wadmalaw Island 30 minutes from Charleston, only grows muscadine grapes, namely the bronze or “Scuppernong” varietals named Carlos and Terra and the red/purple Noble and Ison. However, Freiwald says they are hoping to introduce vinifera in the future to diversify their product and offer more flavors for a wider audience.

“Muscadine wine traditionally is known as a very sweet wine, which people either love or they hate,” he said.

Enoree River Winery not only grows Carlos and Noble vines, but it also has Columbia-native Herbemonts, vinifera hybrids Black Spanish and Chambourcin, and several other vines under experimentation. Many of these vines are still in their youth and might not reach adulthood, according to LaBarre.

“The trouble with South Carolina and the humidity and the diseases that are in the ground is the fact that muscadines are native, so they’ll grow,” he said. “But if you try and do a chardonnay or a cabernet or something like that, it would die within two years.”

But both wineries have room for trial and error. Deep Water Vineyard produces about 3,000 cases each year, and Enoree River Winery makes about 5,000. At 12 bottles per case, that’s thousands of bottles.

Long before his retirement, Richard LaBarre worked as a Southeast regional director for the Vietnam Veterans of America and settled on a more intriguing way to travel around South Carolina between his work destinations.

“I discovered that the best way of traveling the interstate is going from one winery to another winery,” he said.
South Carolina agritourism business is on the rise. The SC Department of Agriculture kicked off the S.C. Agritourism Passport Program in January 2016, where visitors to any SC Agritourism Association farm can pick up a booklet and have it stamped for their visit and collect stamps from other participating farms. S.C. certified prizes are awarded each year.  Not all wineries in the Palmetto State are in the 2017 passport.

Both vineyards predict full bud breaks within the next few weeks, so it’s only a matter of time before grape vines across the Palmetto State will look ready for spring — hopefully without any interruptions.

Spicing up South Carolina

Sriracha: The condiment that became a

By Taylor Halle
Carolina Reporter

Food shoppers may have noticed an abundance of red and green taking over grocery store shelves within the past few years, and it’s not because of Christmas.

Sriracha, a type of hot chili sauce, has become the trendiest condiment phenomenon in recent years, so much so that people are now wearing it as well as consuming it.

The signature red and white rooster logo on the ubiquitous Huy Fong Food bottles has been featured on shirts, socks and even tracksuits. Many retailers now sell miniature bottles fans can carry on their keys, just in case a dish needs some extra spice.

Sriracha was ranked the number one hot sauce in the U.S. on Thrillist, the online food, travel and entertainment website, and ranked Time Out’s top 29. It’s also the top-selling spicy addition on Amazon’s Best Sellers page for hot sauce.

It seemed to spike in popularity around 2013 and shows no sign of slowing down. According to a 2015 Los Angeles Times article, Huy Fong’s Sriracha skyrocketed in sales from $60 million to $80 million in just a two-year span.

Sriracha’s unique taste comes from a few simple ingredients. The red paste is made from chili peppers, sugar, salt, garlic, and distilled vinegar, and includes potassium sorbate and sodium bisulfite as preservatives and xanthan gum as thickener.

Major food brands have incorporated it into products as well. Cheez-It, Lay’s and Pop! have all flavored their snacks with the tangy hot sauce. Burger King came out with a Sriracha cheeseburger last year, and Wendy’s started topping their chicken sandwich with a Sriracha aioli and infused bun.

Those craving a spicy alcoholic beverage can now purchase Sriracha vodka and beer.

Kettle Brand, a chip company that features a large variety of flavors such as “pepperoncini” and “maple bacon,” recently created Sriracha-flavored chips.

“When the brand launched Sriracha chips in 2014, the top-selling Asian hot sauce was considered ‘the New Ketchup,’” a Kettle Brand representative said. “Kettle Brand’s flavor innovators hopped on the opportunity to replicate the chili-garlic-vinegar taste of the beloved condiment on its classic kettle-cooked chips.”

Although the brand cannot release specific sales numbers, it said it’s one of its top-selling varieties and has a loyal fan following.

The origins of Sriracha are rooted in the journey of inventor David Tran, who fled Vietnam on a Taiwanese freighter called Huey Fong. He began production of his spicy kitchen creation in 1980, calling his company Huy Fong Foods.

Tran made countless trips to Asian restaurants around California trying to get the rooster bottle on tables, finally ensuring the success of his flavorful concoction.

Today many restaurant tables are home to the red and green bottle. It may seem like the perfect partner for Thai or Chinese dishes, but other restaurants have started pairing it with anything from nachos to burgers.

Wild Wings Café in Columbia, South Carolina, features a “Srirachos” appetizer, which includes Honey Lime Sriracha-dipped chicken and a creamy Sriracha drizzle. The restaurant’s manager, Marty Cox, said he has received a lot of positive feedback about the dish.

“I would say it’s one of the most popular items we sell,” Cox said. He also thinks the company will probably feature other Sriracha-themed meals in the future.

Julie Blevins, a hot sauce “potionologist” and CEO of the Columbia-based Palmetto Pepper Potions, first encountered Sriracha in the late 1990s at a produce stand in Florida.

“It’s definitely got garlic and sugar, so it’s different from your typical hot sauces,” Blevins said. “I would not use it in my own recipes but it’s done well by a number of companies.”

She believes Sriracha has become a widespread foodie obsession because of the unique mix of ingredients.

“I think it’s the flavor profile. Instead of those traditional hot sauces, it adds garlic and sweetness and something more,” she said.

Calvin Chao, a junior at the University of Maryland and devoted Sriracha-user, said his father introduced Sriracha to him when he was a boy.

“When I first tried it I thought it was pretty spicy since I couldn’t handle spicy things when I was younger, but I liked the general taste,” Chao said.

He says he now flavors his food with the spicy concoction every day.

“I guess the particular flavor goes well with a lot of the foods I eat and it’s not as salty as some of the other ones I’ve tried,” Chao said.

But why is Sriracha just now catching on, so many years after its birth date?

“Maybe it’s because we’ve diversified in terms of culture and that comes with the foods so people are trying different things,” Chao said. “With people becoming more diverse it’s natural for them to dabble in the cuisine, thus exposing more people to Sriracha.”

For a PDF version of this graphic, contact Scott Farrand at farrand@mailbox.sc.edu

Important S.C. jazz venue fears losing home in Columbia park renovation

Le Cafe Jazz sign

Skipp Pearson’s Le Cafe Jazz is tucked into the top floor of the concession stand at Columbia’s Finlay Park with only this sign on a nearby fence as a hint it is there.

Skipp Pearson’s Le Cafe Jazz stands out not only as the renowned saxophonist’s home base but also for its focus on the music. But look at the preliminary renovation plans for Columbia’s Finlay Park. You won’t find the building it now calls home.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Olympia-Granby Museum preserves mill villages’ past in uncertain future

Shery Jaco at Olympia-Granby museum

It’s costing more than $500,000 to create and equip the Olympia-Granby Mill Village Museum. Richland County is providing much of the money, but Olympia native Sherry Jaco said $50,000 was raised in small donations from those passionate about the neighborhood

Sherry Jaco hopes the Olympia-Granby Museum she’s building helps capture the culture of the mill villages she knows from decades of living there. But even as she builds it, museums like this are becoming a part of the very past they aimed to preserve. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bodybuilding: More than steroids and protein powder

Marina Hoffmann, trainer at MÜV Fitness in Forest Acres and bodybuilder, said one of her favorite workouts is rear cable delt flies, which tones the back and triceps.

Former solider, now bodybuilder Matthew Headdon said an exercise as simple as pullups is essential for core strength, as well as upper body strength.

Marina Hoffmann is currently training for a bodybuilding competition, which consists of a three-day cycle of back, legs and shoulders.

By Joseph Crevier

Bodybuilding dates back to the days of the Greek philosopher Socrates, when strength and physique were viewed as almost godlike features.

It’s no coincidence statues of Greek Gods like Zeus and Poseidon are so sculpted – strength equaled power.

But that doesn’t hold true today. Bodybuilding has become a niche sport that often gets a bad rap from outsiders who don’t understand it.

“If your network or family around you don’t understand, it could be a lonely world because as you get closer to the show, every minute of your day is calculated,” said former USC football player and bodybuilder Rob Kean.

Bodybuilding is a lifestyle. It’s not easy. People do it for all sorts of reasons. For Kean, the competitive nature that he developed in his college football days  pushed him toward bodybuilding.

Pete DeAnda ventured into bodybuilding for a different reason.

“I think because I was a chubby kid, it made me self-conscious, so I started training and got interested in how nutrition and weight training can change your body drastically,” said DeAnda, CEO of Nutrition Zone supplement stores in New Jersey.

Whatever one’s reasoning is for bodybuilding, the sport boils down to two main factors: diet and training.

Bulking and cutting

If you ask any bodybuilder, they’ll tell you that lifting isn’t the hardest part, it’s the dieting. A bodybuilder’s diet is extremely structured and varies depending on his or her goals.

An active participant in bodybuilding competitions has a bulking season and a cutting season. While bulking, a male bodybuilder could consume as many as six or seven thousand calories per day, depending on their body type.

Kean, who has a ectomorph body type, struggles to put on muscle mass and maintain his weight.

“Somebody with my body type, if you really want to get big, you probably want to do a tour of drive-thru windows,” he said.

This is called a dirty bulk, meaning the source of calories comes from foods high in fats and calories like a fast food burger and fries. Those with an endomorph or mesomorph body type lean toward a clean bulk with one or two cheat days per week. A clean bulk is utilized to avoid bloating and swelling throughout the body.

An ectomorph typically has smaller joints and is naturally thin and lanky. Kean said there’s probably less than 20 true ectomorphs in the sport of bodybuilding on a national level today, as the sport is best suited for endomorphs and higher-end mesomorphs who are naturally built bigger.

When a competition is approaching, though, bodybuilders begin to cut fat and calories about 16 weeks out, although that time period varies by the individual. During this period, caloric intake decreases, while the bodybuilder still eats around seven meals per day.

Matthew Headdon, a trainer at MUV Fitness in Forest Acres, who has participated in competitions, said he would eat a meal consisting of chicken, shrimp, rice and zucchini in the beginning stages of a cutting period, slowly cycling out the carbohydrates as the weeks progressed. Headdon said as the competition approached, his carbohydrate intake would dip to below 50 grams per day, causing the muscles to flatten as water is pumped out.

“It’s all about the food; it’s everybody’s weakness,” Headdon said.

For women, dieting is even more important during this stage. Women burn fat more slowly than men, so their diet must be even stricter. MUV Fitness trainer Marina Hoffmann is weeks away from a competition and has already begun cutting out carbohydrates and fats completely.

Hoffmann relies on five cups of coffee per day and energy drinks during this period, as carbohydrates and fats are the bodies normal source of energy. This is an agonizing time for bodybuilders, summing up their emotions during it as ‘hangry,” a combination of hunger and anger.

Alcohol is also off limits for a bodybuilder looking to put on muscle, according to Headdon.

“Alcohol is estrogenic, it drops your testosterone and it also stops protein synthesis, so all that protein you’re taking in isn’t doing anything,” Headdon said.

This type of dieting is not the healthiest, but it’s not really intended to be.

“Jay Cutler will tell you ‘bodybuilding is not about health,’ it’s about aesthetics,” Headdon said.

Cutler is perhaps the most renowned modern-day bodybuilder, winning the Mr. Olympia title four times in five years.

Training…

What’s bodybuilding without the training?

Like the diet aspect, training contains two main categories: cardio and weight training. The emphasis on these two aspects vary based on the individual’s body type and what point they’re at in the process.

Kean dispelled the stereotype that bodybuilders spend hours every day lifting weights. In fact, it’s the opposite. Kean said he spends about 45 minutes to an hour in the gym each day actually lifting weights.

“I try to get the craziest pump I possibly can,” he said. “The magic’s happening when you’re at home laying on the couch.”

Blood is pumped into the muscles when training, bringing the nutrients from any food and supplements along with it, which are then absorbed when the workout is completed. Kean finds that less rest between sets leads to a better pump, resulting in a short, high-intensity workout.

A workout popular in the weightlifting community is the five-by-five. This means five sets of five reps at a heavy weight. This technique is utilized mostly during bulking season because it adds strength fast and is most useful with core exercises like deadlifts, squats and bench presses.

These exercises also “fry fat” because of their intensity, according to Headdon, and are vital for male bodybuilders, as they boost testosterone levels. Headdon cut off 5.5 percent body fat in five weeks without cardio, simply by mixing these exercises into his daily routines.

It’s not as simple for female bodybuilders, however.

“The females that do true bodybuilding have to work that much harder,” Headdon said. “Female bodybuilding is pretty freakin’ rad because their bodies don’t want to hold muscle.”

And Hoffmann confirmed that point. She said her daily routine consists of a morning hour of cardio, followed by a training session, then another hour of cardio at night.

The heaviest lifting for a bodybuilder is during the bulking stage, while cardio and reps are increased during the cutting period.

Of course, every bodybuilder is different and their routine will vary. But the one constant in bodybuilding is the process. Bodybuilders say they dedicate their lives to their craft and push their physical and mental limits every single day.

“It’s definitely not a bottle of steroids and a couple workouts, there’s so much more to it,” Kean said.

And for those who challenge that opinion, Kean has one answer, “come join me for a couple days.”

Vape shop experiments with a lounge atmosphere

By Lindsey Hodges and Danielle Kennedy
Carolina Reporter

Comfortable lighting, tasteful art, good music and a slight, smoky haze give off a cozy atmosphere at Whit. E. Octopus in Columbia, where the owner and employees make and sell vape juice, run a bar serving craft beer, and prepare for becoming a music venue.

It’s a different look from the usual vape shops that dot Columbia and could signal a change in direction for the emporiums that provide an alternative to smoking.

Most vape shops are lined with machines, which are called mods, and juice. Whit. E. Octopus Vapors sell these items but in an atmosphere where the customer can also relax in a vape lounge on furniture founder and owner Luke Moore built.

His shop offers a seemingly endless variety of vaping tools. Mods come in all sizes and capabilities. Juice flavors range from sweet, candy-like flavors, to mellow tobacco flavors and floral flavors.

Ricky Loftin, of Village Vaping in Columbia, says the vaping business “changes like computers,” which contributes to the ever-growing selection of mods and juice.

Daniel Shealy, employee, enjoys one of Octopus’ signature vapor flavors. Vaping has been on the rise for the last five years and there are at least 17 vape shops in Columbia, South Carolina.

While many people vape as a cheaper, healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, it has become a hobby and a way of life for many others. Moore has made it his job.

But debate still rages over whether the e-cigarettes cause cancer and should be more closely regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Although not all vape juice contains nicotine, chemicals in certain vape juices could be harmful. Buyers in South Carolina must be 18 and older. The American Cancer Society does not recommend using e-cigarettes. As an alternative, they recommend using patches or gum to break the smoking habit.

The first patent for an electronic cigarette was filed in 1963, but the e-cigarettes only recently became popular in mainstream culture. In 2006, Chinese researcher Hon Lik introduced his electronic cigarette and the subculture of vaping took off. With it came vape shops that are now dotting the landscape across the Midlands.

Vaping, Moore says, can be cheaper than smoking depending on one’s level of involvement. “There’s not really a one-to-one comparison that can be made,” he says. As an alternative to cigarettes, it can be cheaper. As it turns into a hobby, it starts costing more.

“So you go into a cigarette shop or you go into a convenience store and you look at the wall and you’re going to see, you know, a wide variety of different cigarette packs,” Moore said. “Ultimately though, they’re produced primarily by three different companies and each pack is ultimately within the price range of about $2, give or take.”

“The difference with vaping is that there’s such a broad range of everything that it entails, that you can vary from, like, 25 dollars to multiple hundred dollars, and with juice it’s the same thing,” Moore says.

Aside from the cost, another benefit of vaping over smoking is the lack of a strong smell. “There’s no stink on you, there’s no stink on your car,” Loftin says. He says some people even like the way that vaping makes their home or car smell.

Luke Moore, owner of Whit E. Octopus Vapors, is a graduate of the University of South Carolina Law School in Columbia. Moore renovated the warehouse his shop is located in and built all of the furniture featured in his vape lounge.

Flavors of vape juice vary much more than cigarettes do, as well. There are light and menthol cigarettes, but vape juice flavors range much more. Whit. E. Octopus Vapors has a line of 21 flavors. Popular flavors include Pilar, a key lime pie, and Thunder Child, a fruity black tea, Moore says.

A flavor that is surprisingly less popular, he says, is tobacco. According to Moore, cigarettes desensitize taste buds, making people think that they want a tobacco flavor, but as their taste comes back, they realize that they prefer other flavors.

Moore started making his own juice in 2013 and compares it to a home cooked meal versus one at a restaurant.

“The reason I did it is because that pricing structure was vastly less expensive for me to start mixing on my own, almost like with anything, right? It’s cheaper for you to go to the grocery store, take the food home and make your own supper than it is to go out to a restaurant to eat,” he said. “And the quality of it is going to be a little fresher and you know what’s going into your food.”

Making vape juice involves four ingredients, Moore said: vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine and flavoring.

“All of these ingredients, besides nicotine, every human being comes in contact with these ingredients on a daily basis,” Daniel Shealy, employee at Whit. E. Octopus said.

The ingredients are important depending on what type of vape experience one wants, Moore said. If a juice has a higher vegetable glycerin content, it creates bigger clouds. If it has a higher propylene glycol content, a hit is felt more in the throat. Many people who want the same effects as smoking want that throaty hit, as it replicates one from a cigarette, Moore says.

An additional important aspect to vaping is taking care of mods, the box-like cylinder that is used for vaping. Videos of mods exploding in people’s pockets can be easily found online.

Moore said it all depends on the circuit created with the battery. Mechanical mods are more dangerous and require stricter care than their newer counterparts, called regulated box mods.

Moore compares mechanical mods to vinyl records, they take up more space, wear out over time and require more care, but people still listen to them for nostalgic reasons. Regulated box mods, however, Shealy says, are “idiot proof.”

Moore says that vape shops face more direct competition with online retailers like Amazon, but have a clear advantage: face-to-face interactions and customer service.

Ricky Loftin, partial store owner of Village Vaping, owns two locations one on Rosewood Drive in Columbia and the other in Winnsboro, South Carolina. Loftin is passionately advocating for vaporing versus smoking.

“Ya-Ya-Y’all” at Cola Mardi Gras

By Micaela Wendell

Mardi Gras might inspire visions of wrought iron balconies, lightning bugs on the bayou and Bourbon Street packed with partiers.

The core of Mardi Gras — community celebration, Louisiana-inspired food and welcoming Southern charm — is recreated each year at Columbia’s Mardi Gras festival founded by the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya. But what is not recreated is the infamous idea of crazy partiers in the streets earning strings of beads.

“People know that’s not what you do in Columbia,” Kenneth Kelly, “Big Chief” of Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya, said. “Bourbon Street, particularly, has a different kind of licentiousness to it that you don’t see elsewhere.”

Kelly, the chairman of the University of South Carolina’s anthropology department, says that traditional Mardi Gras in Louisiana consists of neighborhood celebrations and local parades that usually depict, at worst, social satire or innuendo.

“It tends to be a very family-friendly kind of thing,” he said. “And that’s what we do here. From the beginning, we’ve encouraged people to bring their kids, bring their dogs.”

Just like any true krewe — a social club that walks in parades and keeps the Mardi Gras spirit alive — Columbi-Ya-Ya has crowned its royalty for the 2017 season. Kristian Niemi, owner of Cajun-creole restaurant Bourbon on Main Street, is the 2017 Mardi Gras king, and state Sen. Mia McLeod, D-Richland, is queen. Both are set to assume their regal roles on a float in Saturday’s parade that begins at the Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport off Jim Hamilton Boulevard and ends at City Roots, the urban farm that will host the Mardi Gras celebration.

 

“It’s probably the most eclectic, fun, goofy parade in the city that I think really shows the spirit of Columbia — the best, in all of its quirkiness,” Niemi said.

 

Niemi is one of the founders of Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya, along with “fearless leader” and attorney Tom Hall, Soda City Market founder Emile DeFelice and Eric McClam from City Roots.

Kristian Niemi is the 2017 Columbia Mardi Gras King and the owner of Bourbon on Main Street. Bourbon, a Cajun-Creole restaurant and bar, is a sponsor of the Lagniappe 5k and will be selling gumbo at the festival.

Niemi’s interest in the culinary arts started in his small hometown of Chisholm, Minnesota, where he admired his family’s cooking style. His own love for cooking blossomed when he bought a cookbook on a whim when he attended College of Charleston.

He later attended culinary school in Minnesota, then moved back to South Carolina, where he managed Blue Marlin in 1995 and worked in several other restaurants.

“It’s been what I do until I figure out what I want to do when I grow up,” he said.

McLeod was surprised when her campaign staff told her she had been selected as Mardi Gras queen, but she said she is excited for a change in pace from her usual legislative duties.

“I thought it was going to be great! It’s going to be fun,” she said. “And my campaign was just like, ‘Oh, this is awesome!’ We needed a little reprieve from the campaign and from the rigorous, competitive and sometimes nasty campaign that we had.”

The Columbia Mardi Gras tradition was forged in the wake of a 2011 fire. Wil-Moore Farms in Lugoff, owned by Keith Willoughby, lost a chicken barn to a fire from a faulty heater. The newly founded Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya, whose members were friends of Willoughby, decided to raise money to offset Willoughby’s losses.

After only three weeks of organization, the krewe pulled off its first Mardi Gras and donated several thousand dollars to Wil-Moore Farms.

Sen. Mia McLeod, D-Richland, is the 2017 Mardi Gras Queen. McLeod is excited to take a break from her state senate duties and assume her royal role for a day.

This year, proceeds are going to the Congaree Riverkeeper. As part of Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya’s many year-round festivities to keep the “party spirit” alive, members have taken tubing trips down the Congaree River.

“We’ve got this great resource of these rivers running right through the town,” Kelly said. “You can tube on them, you can fish in them, you can swim in them, do all that kind of stuff, yet here in Columbia, there’s a lot of pollution that ends up in those rivers, and that’s something we shouldn’t be doing. We should be fighting against that.”

Mardi Gras is more than a holiday — it’s a season. Twelve days after Christmas, on Epiphany, the countdown begins. The actual date of Mardi Gras differs each year because it follows the Christian lunar calendar. The holiday always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian contemplative season of Lent, and is sometimes known as “Fat Tuesday.”

The “fat” of Fat Tuesday comes from the historical tradition of fasting during Lent, the 40 day-period before Easter. People would spend Mardi Gras day eating up all their excess pleasurable food, such as eggs and fat, before starting their spartan Lenten diets the next day.

Columbia’s Mardi Gras is free to the public, although there will be Louisiana-style food and beer and soft drinks for sale. Kelly said the decision to remove the entrance fee was to ensure the festival was accessible to more people.

“We’re trying to give to the community, bring people out together and minimize the barriers,” he said.

Despite the presence of adult beverages, Columbia Mardi Gras has not had issues with overindulgent revelers trying to bring the Bourbon Street spirit to the capital city.

If there would be any commotion happening at the festival, it would be from the bands playing on five different stages at the venue, with one stage hosting kid-led bands from Freeway Music.

“It works. In all its mad-cat glory, it works,” Niemi said.

The Columbia Mardi Gras festivities open Saturday with the Lagniappe 5K at 8 a.m., followed by the parade at 11 a.m. The festival at City Roots will roll, ya-ya-y’all style, until sundown.

South Carolina and the Holocaust: Survivors and liberators

By Taylor Halle and Joseph Crevier
Carolina Reporter

In the spring of 1942, German Nazis raided Ben Sterns’ home, in Kielce, Poland, selecting who would be sent to work camps and who would not. He was separated from his sister, who witnessed the gruesome murder of her child.

As other family members were taken to the Treblinka concentration camp, Ben Stern was sent to a shoe factory. He would later endure six more concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Oranienburg, Sachsenhausen, Kausering, Dachau and Allach, a sub-camp

of Dachau.

After the end of World War II, he met his future wife, Jadzia, a survivor of Auschwitz. They married, had a daughter and immigrated to Columbia, where he started his own construction company.

A young Lilly Filler pictured with her parents, Jadzia and Ben Stern. Photo courtesy of Lilly Filler.

Ben Stern died in 1999, but his harrowing story is told is told in a new exhibition, “Holocaust Remembered,” that opened at USC’s McKissick Museum last month and runs through April 8.

“The women who put the exhibit together have friends and family that are survivors of the Holocaust, and so there’s a lot of those personal stories, there’s pictures, they went through whole family generations up to what they’re doing now,” Jacklyn Roney, a USC student who works at McKissick, said.

“You see their picture and then you see the story and what happened to them,” she said. “A lot of exhibits don’t do that, they kind of just give you the basics of what you learn in school and you become desensitized to it, so this is a way to get you more sensitized to the situation and to think about it and bring up conversations.”

Hiding out, losing everything

The panels tell excruciating stories of survival and narrow escape.

Dientje Kalisky Adkins’ family was constantly on the move through Holland in order to avoid being captured by Nazis. Her grandfather and aunt were taken to concentration camps and never came back.

Finding refuge in a nun’s attic in 1943, Adkins was able to bring her blanket, pillow and doll. The nun often beat her and left her without food, she said, and even took the child’s doll and threw it away.

A photograph from her childhood shows Adkins with the doll, the only tangible proof of that long-ago toy.

Starting over in Greenville

After the Nazi invasion of his native Austria, Max Heller lost his job and was forced to sell valuables until he was able to come to the United States with his family. He wrote a letter to a young woman in Greenville, S.C. leading to a job at the Piedmont Shirt Co.

Max later founded his own shirt company in 1948 and retired in 1969. He was elected to the Greenville City Council and went on to serve as the city’s mayor for two terms.

Dientje Kalinsky Adkins and her family were in hiding for two years during the Holocaust. She was repeatedly abused by the nun who housed them, but later immigrated to Charleston when the Holocaust was over.

There is one thing in common among all three of these stories: all survivors are South Carolinians. “Holocaust Remembered” profiles survivors who eventually made it to South Carolina for new beginnings, and American liberators from South Carolina who witnessed the horrors of the concentration camps.

The traveling exhibit is compiled by the Columbia Holocaust Education Commission and will be installed at the Katie and Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center after leaving McKissick.

McKissick’s Communications Manager Amanda Belue said they’ve already had a good number of visitors to the exhibit.

“We’ve gotten all ages. I think predominantly it is USC students just based on proximity, but we’ve also gotten a lot of school groups, home schoolers and smaller schools. I would say a lot of parents and a lot of students,” Belue said.

Dr. Lilly Filler, co-chair of CHEC, played a large role in planning the exhibit and the Holocaust memorial that was erected in the city in 2001.

Felix Goldberg was sent to a German work camp and later Auschwitz Concentration Campwhere he spent a combined six years. Goldberg eventually immigrated to Columbia and lived here until 2000 when he died.

Filler is the daughter of Jadzia and Ben Stern, who are both featured in panels throughout the exhibit. Born in December of 1947, Filler shortly after immigrated to the U.S. with her parents in June of 1949. Gabe Stern, her father’s uncle from Lexington, S.C., sponsored them.

After raising more money than was needed for the memorial, Filler and several others got together and decided to put the leftover funds towards Holocaust education by developing the CHEC and the “Holocaust Remembered” exhibition.

Filler calls it a living exhibit because the organization wanted to showcase the people in South Carolina’s community who survived or were involved with the Holocaust.

“I think it’s critical that young people know about the Holocaust and unfortunately in our education system today, we can’t guarantee youngsters will grow up learning about it in school,” Filler said.

Filler also said she feels it’s extremely important during this time with the recent increase in anti-Semitic threats and acts that have been reported around the country.

“We don’t have to go very far to see that anti-Semitism is in our midst. It’s critical that young people see this could happen again,” Filler said. “We are a nation of immigrants and I think everyone wants this country to be safe, but we also have to be compassionate, and see the reasons why people are trying to leave their country.”

Filler said the lessons of the Holocaust can teach tolerance.

“There are people in this community who are closely related to the Holocaust,” Filler said. “You don’t have to go across seas; it’s right here in our own community.”

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.