Laurens, South Carolina – A year ago, Squealin’ on the Square planners were watching Tropical Storm Ian become Hurricane Ian and had to make the tough call to postpone Squealin’ on the Square until the following weekend.
This year, it’s a different story. The 2023 Squealin’ on the Square this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6-7, is expected to commence in “perfect festival weather,” said Festival Chairman Jonathan Irick.
“It looks great right now, and while the construction projects around the Square have required some adjustments, there’s still plenty of food vendors and music and plenty to do,” Irick said.
As usual, barbecue vendors will begin serving at noon on Friday, with favorites like Britton’s from John’s Island, Laurens-based Lakeview, Nard’s, Smokin’ Grill, Gullah BBQ and Smokin’ the City. One vendor, Smoke Shack BBQ, is coming all the way from Ohio, Irick said.
“We are also having the People’s Choice contest again Friday afternoon from 5 -9:30 p.m.,” Irick said. “Tickets can be purchased at the souvenir tent.”
“We thought the Historic Courthouse construction was going to be taking up about half of the usable space on the Square,” Irick said, “but they are going to pull that back to give us enough space to bring our vendors onto the Square.”
Zaxby’s Insane Wing Challenge has been moved to Friday evening at 7 :15 p.m., and the Pickle Eating contest is Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
One thing that remains the same is the wide variety of music on stage, starting with the popular David E and the Band Levelz kicking things off on the City Stage at 5 p.m. Friday.
“David is from Laurens and has a lot of followers and puts on a good show, so he’s starting off the music for us from 5-7 p.m.,” Irick said. “Then from 8-10 p.m., Clay Page, an America’s Got Talent contestant from 2019, will be performing from 8-10 p.m. Friday night.”
Page, from Elberton, Georgia, plays country music described as “the sound of the Deep South.”
Music continues at noon on Saturday with local group Vinyl, back after a few years sabbatical with its blend of classic rock and folk. The West End String Band from Greenville takes the stage from 3-5 p.m., and the Boogie Down Band wraps up with the final street dance Saturday from 6-8 p.m.
Down on the Farm activities include a pageant Friday evening at 6 p.m., a dog costume contest at 10 a.m. Saturday and a petting zoo, games, face painting and other children’s activities Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Other children’s events include dance performances from the Studio 55 Dance Team in Laurens at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Downtown Plaza. There will also be no children’s rides, since the company which has always supplied them closed mid-year, Irick said, and it was too late to fit the schedule for other companies.
For walkers and runners, a Walk Against Domestic Violence will begin at the Stage area at 8 a.m., and at 9 a.m. the Laurens County Cruisers will host a classic car show at the corner of West Laurens and Caroline streets. Among the non-profits that participate year-in and year-out is the Laurens Rotary Club, which will be selling ducks for chances at cash when they float down Little River on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 8. The ducks will be for sale throughout the entire festival.
The one primary change is the absence of the competitive Kansas City Barbecue Society Teams, Irick said, because between the Historic Courthouse construction and the United Bank Construction, the electrical outlets needed were in short supply.
Main Street Laurens planners said they expect to be return to KCBS competition next year.