The location of the Rosewood Crawfish Festival has always been a mixed bag. Yes, it’s been nice having the live music stages, beer and grub options stretched out along the core of the eponymous neighborhood, but it’s also been tough during the often already sweltering early May weather to spend a day out on the largely shade bereft black top.
This year, we get to see how the festival will do in a new location. The event will move to the bottom end of Rosewood, hosting its May 4 festivities at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds.
“As the event moved into its 14th year we wanted to reconsider its logistics and what we could do to improve it,” Dave Britt, event organizer and executive director of the Rosewood Merchants Association, explains in today’s press release. “When the Crawfish Festival first started out it attracted about 2,000 people. However, as time had passed the Crawfish Festival has grown substantially. The festival now typically brings in anywhere from 9,000 to 12,000 visitors. The impact on the nearby residential areas during the event can be significant. We wanted to find a way to still have the event on Rosewood Drive while reducing the strain on the Rosewood neighborhoods.”
As Shawn Rankin, event organizer and owner of Liquid Assets Bar Catering Service, points out in the release, the move will streamline logistics — restrooms, power access, parking for almost 5,000 people, and a building to house crawfish dining are all readily available at the fairgrounds. The move may forfeit some of the festival’s neighborhood feel, but it should make for a more comfortable and more easily accessible environment for the large crowds.
Crawfish’s first year at its new digs will come complete with savvily chosen headliner: Jump, Little Children.
In the past, the event fell into a rut of booking ’90s alternative acts past their prime — Spin Doctors, Gin Blossoms, Marcy Playground, Tonic, Better Than Ezra, Eve 6, Everclear, and Cowboy Mouth have all taken the top spot. But recent years have seen the festival stretch out with more relevant and exciting selections — pedal steel master Robert Randolph and his Family Band played in 2015; last year leaned on the quickly ascending star of Charleston folk-rock band SUSTO.
Consider Jump a compromise between these approaches. The band has been around for nearly 30 years, loved by many for its sometimes frenetic, sometimes stately, but always eager and emotive pop-rock. And since reuniting in 2015, Jump has been on a real tear, touring successfully through large rock clubs, and releasing its first album in 13 years, 2018’s Sparrow, to widespread acclaim (it landed at No. 10 on Free Times’ annual Best of South Carolina Music poll). Band with long history that will please those after a nostalgia fix? Check. Ambitious outfit still making vital work? Double check.