Last updated: October 25. 2013 2:39PM - 2621 Views
Karen Kissiah Staff Writer

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Dizzy Gillespie traveled across the country and around the world playing his famous trumpet. Now, people from around the world are traveling to his small home town to participate in the South Carolina Jazz Festival.

On a recent trip to San Fransisco, local resident Margaret Reid met a couple with musical interests and began a conversation about Dizzy and his music.

And, as Reid said, “before you know it, they ordered tickets and came to Cheraw for the weekend.”

While the California couple was in town, Reid arranged for them to get a formal tour of the town and its history with local historian Sarah Spruill.

Realizing the festival is still quite young, said Lindsay Bennett, executive director for the Cheraw Arts Commission and the festival, “we were very impressed this year.”

This is the eighth year for the event.

“Several people from out of town, and lots of the musicians, said they were simply excited to be here, where Dizzy grew up, walked downtown, went to school and first learned to play the trumpet,” said Bennett.

There was also a man who traveled here for the festival from New Jersey, said Bennett. He told Bennett he was coming back next year. And there was the couple from Wilmington, N.C., who return every year since the festival began, said Bennett.

“They could be seen dancing everywhere.”

Even Rob Stewart, a native Cheravian, who now lives in Sacramento, Calif., said the caliber of work seen in the sidewalk art competition here on Saturday was comparable to professional work he’s seen in California, said Bennett.

“In my opinion, this was our best jazz festival yet,” said David Sides, director of tourism and community development for the town of Cheraw. “From the wonderful community participation we had to our incredible lineup of musicians, it was truly a top-notch event. We had guests from the entire East Coast and one couple even made their first visit to South Carolina from California to attend the festival. I have heard nothing but great comments from everyone that attended.”

— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached at 843-537-5261, or at kkissiah@civitasmedia.com.

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