Good Grit: A Town Brought Back to Life

“When you grew up in Lake City, you couldn’t wait to get out,” resident Holly Shady of Lake City, South Carolina claims.

Lake City was a small, agrarian town in the heart of South Carolina. Businesses downtown were struggling, young people were moving away, and there wasn’t much to be excited about. The city was declining, but seven years ago, everything changed.

“There was a group of women, sitting around a coffee table, and they saw that Lake City was a dying town. They asked the question: What can we do to bring it back to life? And somebody said, ‘art’,” Holly reveals.

That was the idea – that they could bring Lake City back to life with art. So these women schemed. They talked and dreamed about bringing an art festival to their less-than-7,000-person town.

“At first, it sounded crazy. Especially when art was not a thing that existed around here.” She goes on, “There was a lot of talking to the businesses downtown and trying to convince them to get on board to do this. Some people laughed in their faces and some people were really gung-ho about it.”

These women created ArtFields – a yearly art festival held in Lake City. Philanthropist and Lake City native Darla Moore led charge in creating the event, which is coordinated by a small team, and staffed by 200 local volunteers. Now, 7 years later, Lake City is completely different.


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