South Carolina Carnival 2017

2017 festival photo via South Carolina Carnival Facebook page

The islands come inland once a year when the South Carolina Carnival comes shaking into town. What’s the Carnival? It’s a multi-day celebration of Caribbean culture put on by organizers Lisa Small, Stephen Phillip and a few of their other Caribbean friends.

In its fifth year, one of the major changes will be moving from the less visible sports complex on Garners Ferry Road to right in the middle of Main Street.

For four days and nights, Columbia will be transformed to bring a little bit of the islands downtown. The festival begins and ends with food and drink, an integral part of Caribbean culture.

“Caribbean culture is unique for its flavor and spices,” says Small. “The Caribbean is a virtual melting pot and made up of all color and races, and as they combined their lives, they combined they foods, and tasting these foods helps you learn about the people.”

At the Food Fest on Thursday, June 7, there’ll be plenty of crab and dumplings, baked saltfish, rice and peas, jerk chicken and oxtails, to name a few. A culture parade and block party on Main Street keeps the party going, and finally, the long weekend will wrap up at the Robert Mills House for Punch’d, a day party featuring rum punch and more Caribbean culture celebrations. The official schedule, tickets, and more details for all of the events can be found at — April Blake 

We Like Our Shrimp on Grits

We all know the many ways that shrimp can be prepared, thanks to Bubba from Forrest Gump, but South Carolinians are partial to shrimp with some grits and maybe a little tasso gravy, too, evidenced by the popularity of the dish on restaurant menus. See how shrimp and grits taste from a multitude of Midlands restaurants at the annual Shrimp & Grits Festival at the Columbia Conference Center on Saturday, June 9, from 6-10 p.m.

The festival will feature 10 restaurants and caterers and their versions of the classic Lowcountry entree. A cash bar will be available to sate attendees’ thirst, and live music will be performed by Prettier Than Matt. Tickets to the festival are $40 and cover admission, entertainment, and unlimited samples of all the shrimp and grits you could ever want in one day. Get tickets and additional details at

Find Out What Ramadan Means

Learning about how other cultures operate and how other people live, eat, dress and worship like they do is a really good idea. The more you know, the better prepared you are to co-exist with everyone in the world. So get your comfortable clothes on and go learn about Ramadan, that time of year where Muslims fast from food and water until sundown.

On June 8, the Atlantic Institute and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia are hosting an Iftar (fast-breaking) dinner and presentation by Dr. Akif Aydin on his Ramadan experiences. People of all faiths and background are encouraged to attend. The dialogue begins at 7:30 p.m. and dinner begins around 8:30 p.m. after the sun goes down. The event is free but attendees are encouraged to register online at

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