Uniquely Union 2012

Last Saturday, I made my third annual visit to the Uniquely Union BBQ Festival at the Union County Fairgrounds in Union, SC. Last year, I came here after vising the ghost town of Pinckneyville with a few like-minded friends, old and new. This year, with the threat of showers in the afternoon, I came to the festival first to make sure I could attend my favorite event, Taster's Choice.

After parking in the adjacent parking lot and walking down to the festival, I stopped at the event tent to purchase a $5 wristband for Taster's Choice, where you sample each of the competitor's BBQ and then vote for your favorite.


With about 30 competitors this year, I sampled a lot of great BBQ for that $5. Nom, nom, nom.

The only samples I didn't like were too salty for my taste. Update: The winners have now been posted at the Union Daily Times.

Other events were going on during the day, of course. A soundstage was in constant use during my time there.

Another stage hosted dancers and a beauty pageant. The food was really why I came, so once I finished with the Taster's Choice I made for the exit.

After leaving the festival, I headed downtown to Main Street to re-visit the Union County History Museum, and executive director Ola Jean Kelly.

I had arrived 15 minutes too early, but that gave me an opportunity to re-visit an fantastic mural a short distance away.

With the time filled and the museum now open, I made my way in to see what's changed since my visit a year ago.

The Pinckneyville exhibit was still there.

And the secession table.

Among many other interesting artifacts I saw last year.

New this visit is a exhibit of about forty of Thomas Owensby's famous alkaline-glazed pottery on display from August until the end of September. According to Ola Jean Kelly, executive director of the museum, Thomas Owensby was trained as a potter in Edgefield, SC, and began manufacturing pottery in 1820 in what was then Union District and is now in Cherokee County. Again according to her, this exhibit features the finest and most complete  examples of his work currently known anywhere.

After leaving the museum, I made my way to the intersection of Neals Shoals Road and Monarch Highway where nearby an abandoned railroad splits off from the mainline railroad southwest of Union. Unfortunately, I forgot to print a map of the route and the right-of-way wasn't obvious from the street. Drat. Some other time then.

As I drove through the Carem community, I did find an abandoned grocery store.

The sign shows one name underneath, overprinted with another. I made out the name "Margie's" in white lettering and "Grocery" in black lettering. And when I went down Hawkins Road, I found an old abandoned house with its roof intact. Hmm, the builders of the River Falls Fire Department near Cleveland might want to take lessons from this place.

Continuing on Hawkins Road, I found a nice looking horse farm I thought might have some photo opportunities, and I wasn't disappointed. The photo of the horse turned out nicely, I think. I wish the horse in the background were a different color to help the one in the foreground stand out better, but oh well.


My next stop was Rose Hill Plantation, several miles SSW of Union, SC. Rose Hill Plantation was the former home of William H. Gist, also known as the "Secession Governor". Now, it's a state park with tours of the house available at certain times of the year.

The first place I encountered after parking was the carriage house.

I thought it interesting the kitchen was completely separate from the house.

I wanted to check out the cabin, but screaming kids behind the cabin convinced me not to.

A tour of the house was ending when I arrived.

However, gathering clouds and distant thunder persuaded me to move on to my last stop, Gist Family Cemetery.

Gist Family Cemetery is where William H. Gist and other members of the Gist family are buried.


Rain was beginning to fall and it was thundering, so I took my photos as quickly as possible before heading toward home. The Taster's Choice event was fantastic as usual and I will definitely try to come back next year.

More photos are available in these albums:

A map of the places I visited:

View Uniquely Union 2012 in a larger map


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