Uniquely Union 2013

Every year for the past several years, I've attended the Uniquely Union festival in Union, SC, and this year was no exception. Instead of being held at the Union County Fairgrounds as in previous years, this year the festival took place in downtown Union.

The Uniquely Union festival was divided into several zones. The first zone was for people to show off their classic cars.
The second zone was dedicated to art and folk music.
The third zone was for the kids, or "kidz" as their brochure spelled it. When I first arrived to this zone, a donut eating contest was just about to start. Nom, nom.
 Later, several groups of cloggers performed. The crowd loved them.
 A variety of rides were setup to thrill the little ones.
The next zone was the Gospel Zone.
The last zone was what drew me here to begin with, the BBQ zone and where the Taster's Choice event is held. Participants receive samples of BBQ from the BBQ contestants and vote for their favorite.

Choosing one was tough because I liked all but the samples with too much salt. I ultimately voted for one with a vinegar base. The event changed this year. In previous years, you got your own samples. This year, the samples were brought to you. Unfortunately, some cookers were late in delivering their BBQ so the staff had to deliver some samples individually as the BBQ arrived.

Touring Union

While in town, I visited (or revisited) some of Union's interesting sites. The first site on my list was another visit to the Union County History Museum and with friendly, knowledgeable museum director Ola Jean Kelly.
The Owensby pottery exhibit from my last visit  is gone (the exhibit was on a short term loan).
but many interesting exhibits remain. A sample of the photos I took are below:
The Battle of Blackstocks exhibit interested me since I planned to head there after leaving Union.
When I mentioned I was headed to the site of the Battle of Blackstocks site later on, Ola produced a book from the research room, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution by Bobby Gilmore Ross, ...
... listing one of her ancestors as having participated in the Battle of Blackstocks. Neat!

I also found my way around to some places I had already visited before including the Union Cotton Mills mural, ...
the Veteran's Memorial, ...

the Union Depot, ...

and town buildings with ghost signs...

I also went by the Dawkins House, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, where South Carolina's state government resided for a few days as the Civil War was ending.

Battle of Blackstock's

Ola advised me the Battle of Blackstock's monument site was in a remote area down a rough dirt road past some hunting lodges, and that site was not well maintained for lack of funds. Ola certainly knew what she was talking about. The place certainly does indeed need maintenance.

The road leading to the monument was paved most of the way, and dirt the rest of the way. The dirt road was rutted in places, but never deep enough to force me to park and hike. Eventually, I went passed by a info station, through an open gate, and into a clearing. I was only then I realized I was quite alone. Cool!
The dirt road made a loop around the monument located on the hill. According to the National Register listing and nomination form, this hill is were the Blackstock barn used to be located.
The monument to the battle is near the top of the hill inside the loop made by the dirt road.
Update: An archaeological survey of the battlefield, Research at Blackstocks Battlefield, found musket balls inside this road loop and other locations.

The Patriots were positioned on a larger hill and its slope to the north and west:
The site is overgrown with brush and trees. Ola advised me on how to find the unmarked graves of British soldiers, but the place is so overgrown this time of year I quickly gave up the search.

Update: Ola sent me a photo of an unmarked grave by a tree, apparently taken during winter (the tree had no leaves). I've said it before, and I'll say it again: winter is definitely the best time of year for this kind of search.

I did notice what looked like a trail headed toward the larger hill, and after following the could-be trail a bit I discovered I really was following a trail...
complete with blazes.
I couldn't help but be amused when I accidently spooked a squirrel that in turn spooked a deer. I also probably ruined a salamander's day in taking its photo. Sorry about that!
The trail was somewhat overgrown in places, especially when it paralleled the Tyger River. At one point, I spotted a sandy spot by the river, and went down to investigate. I found plenty of prints in the sand:
The river was rather shallow and the water just warm enough to wade in comfortably.
It was getting late in the day, so rather than follow the trail to its end, I decided to go on home. On the way, I passed by a number of historical markers and old country stores I couldn't stop to visit. Perhaps some other time.

Uniquely Union is a lovely rural festival. The Taster's Choice BBQ event remains my favorite part of the festival and the reason I keep coming back.

My photos from the adventure are on Flickr in the set Union County - Sept 2013 and on Google Photos in the albums Uniquely Union - 2013, Union, SC Tour - 2013, and Battle of Blackstocks - Sept 2013 (includes a photosphere).


  1. I used to work in neighboring Sumter National Forest, and I had no clue about the Battle of the Blackstocks site. I also have not visited a majority of the places you mentioned in Union; I probably shouldn't wait until the next Uniquely Union festival! Thanks for a informative post!


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