A steady stream of people hauling lawn chairs and blankets, carrying coolers and walking dogs and children, flowed into the center concourse of Hampton Park Saturday evening.
On the covered stage in front of them, protected from the unobstructed setting sun, musicians were setting up for the Piccolo Spoleto Jazz Picnic in the Park. Early picnickers to the 6 p.m. event already had their blankets and lawn chairs on the ground.
“We know what it takes for families to get out,” said Scott Watson, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Charleston, which organizes the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
In previous years this event had been at another location, and was better known as the Intern Block Party, organized by festival interns and meant to attract a younger demographic. In an effort to fine-tune the festival, and make it more enjoyable, the Jazz Picnic was developed, Watson said.
“Picnicking was a major way for people to go. You walk around here and get hungry just looking at all the food people brought,” he said.
Food trucks and other vendors shared space along the edge of the field with a jumping castle and a coloring mural for kids to paint. Children fed the ducks, while families kicked around a soccer ball and played catch as they waited for the music to begin.
By the time the music started, just after 7 p.m., the field in front of the stage was covered with about 1,800 people with food and drinks. Shortly thereafter the patio at the front of the stage was inundated with people of all ages dancing, while the rest of the audience was clapping and cheering, proving Watson and company right.
Joseph DiDomizio is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.