A Place to Spend Quality Time
Eager crowds from around the Carolinas and beyond join us annually for festivals and events celebrating the deliciousness of BBQ, the rich history of the area, and the moving art created by our residents. They also come for endless outdoor adventure and a myriad of local attractions, shops, and historic sites. See below for all this and more!
Festivals & Events
Fan-favorite annual festivals like Rock Around the Clock, Pig on the Ridge, and others provide great times for residents and visitors to move their feet, satisfy their appetites, and find their next great treasure.
- Rock Around the Clock (September or October): Fairfield’s most popular festival is Rock Around the Clock, when a variety of bands and entertainers “rock” around the oldest continuously running clock in the nation, built in 1833 and located in historic downtown Winnsboro. The two-day festival hosts activities for all ages, including a parade, a street dance, a showcase of classic cars and motorcycles from all over the southeast, a 5K run, plus train rides and a climbing wall for kids!
- Pig on the Ridge (November): The town of Ridgeway hosts its annual Pig on the Ridge BBQ Cookoff, where teams from all over the southeast compete for prize money, trophies, and “best BBQ” bragging rights. Folks from all around South Carolina and neighboring states come to enjoy a weekend of food, fun, and festivities
- Arts on the Ridge (May): During this lovely weekend, residents and visitors enjoy visual, performing, and literary arts showcased through live shows, performances, demonstrations, book signings, and more.
- Wings & Wheels Air Festival (May): Come take flight during the annual Wings & Wheels Air Festival at the Fairfield County Airport in Winnsboro. Enjoy plane or helicopter rides (for a fee), or if you’d rather stay on the ground, enjoy a classic plane exhibit and skydiving demos. Not to mention, there’s great food, music, arts and craft vendors, face painting, and more.
Outdoor Fun, Sports, & Recreation
Whether you’re drawn to the peace and quiet of the great outdoors, the thrill of hunting, fishing, and motorsports, or the spectatorship of year-round sporting events played at the highest level, Fairfield County is smack in the middle – or just a short drive away – from every bit of it.
- Lake Wateree & State Park: As the largest lake in Fairfield County, this is one of South Carolina’s premier fishing destinations due to its large population of crappie, bream, largemouth bass, catfish, and striped bass. The Lake Wateree State Recreation Area provides ideal access to the 21-mile long, 13,700-acre reservoir. The 238-acre park features a tackle shop/park store with a refueling dock and public boat ramp.
- The area also has a wooded, lakeside campground with 72 sites, many that can accommodate large RVs and all with water and electrical services. Day visitors and campers also can enjoy the numerous picnic tables, playground, and the mile-long nature trail through the woods.
- Lake Monticello: This 7,000-acre lake offers picnic shelters, fishing, a boat ramp, and a variety of other water recreational activities. The Fairfield Recreation Commission also operates a park at the lake, in addition to a smaller area called the Monticello Recreation Lake, which is located north of the large body of water and is about 300 acres in size. This park offers fishing two days a week, swimming, and picnic facilities, as well as the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station Nature Trail. Enjoy plentiful benches, wood duck boxes, bluebird boxes, and plant identification markers on the 1.5-mile trail.
- Sumter National Forest: If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Sumter National Forest will be a highlight of your experience in Fairfield. Located in the Northwestern corner of the county is 11,080 acres of forest, which, in total, stretches over 253,381 acres of the state and connects with trails and forests in both Georgia and North Carolina.
- Palmetto Trail: This statewide hiking and biking trail truly has it all, connecting state and county parks, national forests, nature preserves, wildlife management areas, Revolutionary War battlefields, Native American paths, and much more. It goes directly through the heart of the Midlands, and what’s known as the Peak to Prosperity Passage proceeds west from the Alston trailhead in Fairfield County before crossing the Broad River trestle.
- Little Cedar Creek Campground: Enjoy camping on 40 acres of quiet, scenic country land complete with swimming, fishing, walking trails, and more.
- Fortune Springs Park: This scenic park in downtown Winnsboro offers several walking paths, picnic shelters, benches, a pond, and a fountain.
- Carolina Adventure World: Enjoy this 2,600-acre outdoor enthusiast destination park, the southeast’s largest ATV, UTV, and dirt bike riding park, located in Winnsboro. The park offers 100 miles of professionally designed ATV trails, a championship motocross course, Go Kart course, mud bog, ATV rentals, and ATV and motorbike storage facilities. For those interested in enjoying nature in a more relaxed fashion, the park also offers biking and golf cart trails. Visitors are encouraged to spend more than one day enjoying the park and to stay overnight at the on-site campground.
- Collegiate Sports: You’re just a short drive away from some of the best college athletics in the country courtesy of The University of South Carolina, which competes on the national level in all major sports. Enjoy Gamecocks football at the 80,000-seat Williams Brice Stadium, basketball at Colonial Life Arena, or any variety of baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball, and more.
- Professional Sports: Travel up to Charlotte to catch a Carolina Panthers football game or see the Charlotte Hornets take on the competition in basketball. Charlotte is also home to professional soccer, field hockey, minor league baseball, and more.
Naturally, a wide variety of local attractions appeals to a wide variety of people, and the residents of Fairfield County welcome all with a smile and willingness to share. Wherever you go – be it the Railroad Museum, the Town Clock, or a charming bed and breakfast – friendly locals will greet you along the way.
- South Carolina Railroad Museum: This museum is the largest attraction in Fairfield County, and with good reason. Since 1973, it’s been collecting various types of freight and passenger cars, as well as a steam locomotive, which once belonged to the Hampton and Branchville Railroad. You’ll see cabooses, freight cars, and diesel engines from CSX and Norfolk Southern, and you’ll learn about the rich local ties to the railroad industry.
- Fairfield County Museum: Restored and converted into the Fairfield County Museum in 1976, this three-story townhouse in Winnsboro is now listed on the National Historic Registry as a late example of Federal-style architecture. The ornate wood and plaster work of the interior were beautifully restored in the 1970s through the efforts of local preservationists. The museum features artifacts and furnishings that represent Fairfield County’s history, and a genealogy research room on the second floor is staffed by volunteers.
Bed and Breakfasts
- Whispering Willows Bed and Breakfast: In Ridgeway, enjoy some time for reflection and relaxation when you’re a guest at Whispering Willows, tucked away in the woods and designed for restoration.
- Songbird Manor Bed and Breakfast: Built in 1912, this bed and breakfast provides a big helping of southern charm. Awaken each morning to the melodies of local songbirds and enjoy the surrounding neighborhood filled with homes built as early as the 1800s.
- Town Clock (Longest Continually-Running Clock in the U.S.!): With a history dating back to 1785, the Town Clock in Winnsboro is the longest continuously running clock in the U.S. The works for the clock were imported to Charleston by sailboat and hauled to Winnsboro in wagons. Some reports indicate that the journey required up to 50 wagons in total! Today, you can visit the site to admire the stunning architecture and hear the signature chime. The first floor is now used as meeting space for the town’s various organizations and as a voting location. The second floor of the Town Clock is home to the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce.
- Fairfield County Courthouse: The County Courthouse, located across from the Town Clock, has observed Winnsboro’s daily activities since 1823. Designed by South Carolina architect Robert Mills, the courthouse is home to records dating as far back as the mid-1700s.
- Laura’s Tea Room: Spend a portion of your day in the relaxing confines of Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway. Enjoy the distinguished beauty of tea room offerings, the downstairs deli, and the adjoining gift shop.
Where to Shop
Head to downtown Winnsboro or Ridgeway to check out artist studios, gift shops, antique stores, and a 1840s hardware store that’s hardly changed a bit since its inception. If you’re looking for mall or shopping center environment, nearby Columbia and Charlotte are home to a variety of national and local retailers.
- Ruff and Co. Mercantile: Still heated with a wood stove, this 1840s hardware store will take you back in time. Browse the aisles filled with antiques or enjoy conversation with locals, who now utilize the space to swap stories and pass the time.
- Downtown Ridgeway: Stop by the Bella & Blue boutique for unique gifts, jewelry, and clothes; head over to FCAC Gallery to pick a new piece of art to decorate your home, or visit the historic Ruff & Co. Mercantile to find out why this old-fashioned hardware store is a local treasure.
- Downtown Winnsboro: Stop by The Town Clock shop for regional gifts, or visit thrift and antique shops, a local leather goods store, and more.
- Nearby Shopping in Charlotte: About a 45-minute drive north, you can visit South Park, the premier mall in the Carolinas, featuring stores like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, Anthropologie, Apple, and many others.
- Nearby Shopping in Columbia: Just a 30-minute drive south, visit The Village at Sandhills for a variety of shops and restaurants in an open air environment. There are several other shopping centers in the Columbia area with stores like Target, Kohl’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, and World Market. Columbiana Center is the city’s largest mall, featuring stores like Belk, Dillards, JCPenney, Williams Sonoma, and others.