Originally created 05/29/99

County celebrates heritage, veterans



AIKEN -- Rebel and Yankee cavalry will clash once more at today's annual Beech Island Heritage Day in a re-enactment from the war that tore the nation apart.

Events begin at 10 a.m. at Granville Plantation, located at 6198 Atomic Road between Beech Island and Jackson, and last all day long.

Also today, a memorial service for all veterans begins at 1 p.m. in Aiken with a wreath laying at the Aiken County Veterans Memorial on Richland Avenue and a flyover of crop duster aircraft from Estill, S.C. Adjutant General Stan Spears will be the guest speaker.

The signal for beginning the Memorial Day parade will be a flyover by F-16s in the Missing Man Formation. In keeping with the theme of sacrifice for country, the parade includes an empty flag-draped casket atop a horse-drawn caisson in solemn procession, the Marine Corps Band, the Fort Gordon Marching Band, Aiken High School Band and several other musical units. The parade begins on Park Avenue, turns right on Laurens Street and continues to Barnwell Avenue.

After the parade, festivities begin in the Alley with a concert by the Parris Island Marine Band and a watermelon seed-spitting contest led by Aiken Mayor Pro Tem Robert S."Skipper" Perry.

Meanwhile, in the western section of the county, Civil War re-enactors with the 14th and 25th S.C. Volunteers and the 21st Ohio will take part in a skirmish at 11 a.m. on the lawn of the home of Beech Island Historical Society President James Goodman.

The Goodman home, built in 1840 by Alfred Dicks, will be open for tours guided by Southern ladies in hoop skirts. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children.

This year's event pays tribute to early 1800s plantation owner Alexander Downer, who founded the Downer Schools, which educated generations of Beech Island children. The event includes a Downer School Reunion and those attending are asked to share school pictures and other mementos.

Former Downer School II students who attended between the years of 1899-1923 will be recognized.

Entertainment begins at 10 a.m. with Smooth Country, followed by Beech Island's own Flo Carter and the Sounds of Joy at noon, the Pan-Celtic Pipes and Drums at 2 p.m., and Cookie Dodson's Children Singalong.

Throughout the day, crafters will display their wares, make soap and candles, spin yarn, shape pottery, carve spoons, create flint weapons and forge iron.

Barbecue dinners and other types of food will be available for purchase.

Admission is free to both events.

Pat Willis is a reporter for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.