Native Americans exhibit at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville

The history museum in downtown Greenville has an interesting exhibit about Native American tribes in the South Carolina Upcountry. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children and students age 4 to 18 and free for children age 3 and under.

The Cherokees
“…The Great Buzzard flew all over the world…when he reached the Cherokee country, he was very tired, and his wings began to flap…wherever they struck the earth there was a valley, and when they turned up again there was a mountain.” Cherokee myth

“The males of the Cherokee…are tall, erect, and moderately robust, their limbs well shaped so as generally to form a perefect human figure…”
William Bartram, naturalist, 1791

18th century encounter with the Cherokee tribe

Early description of Cherokee men

Drawing of early Cherokee settlements in the Carolinas.

Cherokee settlements around 1250 AD

Cherokee village near Pisgah North Carolina 1250 A.D.

Over time the Cherokee settlements turned into towns that were more spread out and more advanced than earlier villages, as illustrated in the Tennessee’s Chota town layout below.

Cherokee town settlement

A look at a more developed prehistoric Cherokee town

Trade and war
In 1730, seven Cherokee warriors went to London to sign a treaty with the British government. They signed a trade agreement that will eventully build colonial fortunes for Great Britain. European traders obtained deerskins and sometimes slaves from the Cherokees. In the early 1700s, South Carolina exported 54,000 deerskins annually.

Cherokee come to England the early 18th century for a trade contract

Cherokee leaders travel to London in 1730 to establish a trade agreement


Native Americans became dependent on European manufactured goods, such as fabric, farming tools, hardware and weapons. They soon exhausted the deer population.

Mounting debt forced them to sell land in order to satisfy their creditors.

Treaties between the Cherokees and the Charlestown-based government limited European settlement in the Upcountry. South Carolina Governor James Glen secured treaties with Native Americans in 1743 that promoted trade and designated land for European settlement. However, as Piedmont region offered rich soil and clean water for farming, settlers ignored these treaties and moved into Native American land.

Native American artifacts from the Upcountry

Cherokee hunting and harvesting tools


In response, the Cherokees attacked the settlements in 1759. The following winter,
at Fort Prince George, the colonial militia killed hostages when Cherokee warriors stormed the fort.

After intese fighting a new treaty was signed creating a new boundary between Cherokee lands and European settlements.

During the American Revolution the Cherokees sighted with the British, hoping they would stop the advancement of the settlements. Patriot militia burned Cherokee towns and crops. On May 20, 1777 at DeWitt’s Corner, Outacite and other Cherokee leaders gave up their lands to the new American government.

The Catawbas
The Catawbas settled east along the Catawba and Wateree Rivers. They often fought with the Cherokees over precious Upcountry land. When the Europeans arrived the tribes agreed to a truce in order to participate in trading. Over time Catawba pottery became highly desired by European settlers who used it for cooking.

Catawba tribe artifact

Catawba peace pipe artifact

Once a distinct nation, by the 1730s, the Catawbas became an amalgam of different trives joined together from wars, settler incursion and disease. By 1760, war and smallpox ravaged the Catawbas to just about 500 people.

The Catawba in the Upcountry

Early drawing of a Catawba man

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Got mill skills? Be a doffer at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville

Can you doff it? It’s not as easy as it looks. How about doing it over, and over, and over?

In late 19th century and early 20th century children worked, sometimes up to 14 hours a day, in hot, lint-filled, and extremely loud textile mills for a meager pay. If that wasn’t enough, in the 1920s, mill owners started deploying “the stretch-out” – machinery was sped up to increase workers production (and the owners profits) during an already grueling work week.

Finally, in 1933, The Cotton Textile Code of the National Recovery Act, set a 40-hour work week, a $12 minimum weekly wage, and put an end to child labor.

Learn all about “The Textile Capital of the World” at the Upcountry History Museum in downtown Greenville. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 4-18 and free for those 3 and under.

Pickens Hagood Mill and County Museum of History and Art- free awesome attractions in SC Upcountry

Step back in history at the Pickens County Museum of History and Art and Hagood Mill “Where Memories are Made”. They are both FREE attractions to enjoy Pickens County Museum of Art and History while vacationing in the South Carolina Upcountry.
Pickens was a native Cherokee territory until the American Revolution when they suffered defeat and had to surrender their South Carolina lands. In 1769 the Ninety Six Judicial district was created and was composed of present day Greenville, Anderson, Pickens and Oconee counties.

Hagood Mill Facts and Trivia
The gristmill was built by James Hagood in 1845 and it operated commercially until 1966. Hagood wellHagood Mill was a busy center. Records show, in 1870, it produced 140,000 pounds of meal and 11,200 pounds of flour.

In 1973 the mill was donated to the Pickens County and added to the National Register of Historic Places. To date it’s one of oldest known surviving gristmills still producing grain products.

Archaeological excavations revealed that on site rocks are covered with pre-historic carvings. The petroglyphs Hagood petroglyph will be preserved and displayed in the soon to be realized South Carolina Rock Art Interpretive Center.

Things to see and do at Hagood Mill
• 20 foot overshot wheel and wooden barn
• Old Bear Blacksmith shop
• A complete 19th century cotton gin
• Ol’ Mill Moonshine display
• Family farm exhibit

• Future SC Rock Art Interpretative Center
• Tour the property Hagood Mill 20 foot wheel and wooden barn Wednesday thru Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
• On a third Saturday of every month, rain or shine, the Mill operates and there are live shows: traditional music, folk storytelling and Native American dances.
• Check out the exhibits inside the visitor center and shop for one of a kind souvenirs, fresh stone ground cornmeal and grits and the Mill Cookbooks.
• Hike the ¾ mile nature trail (beware of snakes!)

Hagood Mill Events Schedule
(held on the 3rd Saturday of every month)
• July 19 – “Sugar in the Gourd, Dancin’ on the Board” – Buck dance contest
• August 16 – “Summer Gospel Show”
• September 20 – Hagood’s Mill famous Hagood Mill cotton gin“Fiddlin’ Convention” – competition for best old time fiddler, guitarist, banjo player and string band.
• October 18 – Hagood Mill Storytelling Festival
• November 15 – “Selugadu” – Native American Celebration with Cherokee dancing, drumming, storytelling and demonstrations.
• December 15 – “Celtic Christmas” Irish and Scottish music.

Pickens County Museum of History and Art
Take the kids to visit this awesome museum to witness one of the most history rich counties in South Carolina. From Cherokee diplomat Attakullakulla to American Revolution patriot (and county namesake) Andrew Pickens to present day Saturday evening barn dances and folklore stories.

Pickens County museum Andrew Pickens\' duel pistols is housed in a 1903 jail complete with crenellated turret, now part of National Register of Historic places. There are 39 permanent displays with artifacts, pictures and arts telling and preserving the incredible history of the Tri-counties.

The museum is also host to the prestigious Juried South Carolina Artists Exhibition, an annual event showcasing best artistic creations from the state. Delight yourself outside along the Interpretive Gardens trails highlighting flora native to local forests, grasslands and bogs.

Pickens Museum Attractions

• Andrew Pickens’s 18th century English manufactured duel pistols captured from loyalist Capt. John Hamilton at 1779 Robert Carr’s Fort battle.
Pickens County Jail Room exhibit

• The Winchester Axe used to split the victim’s head at a “Blockade” Distellery dispute in 1936. A year later the fellow was released from prison for good behavior!
• The Jail room and noose where the last execution took place
• Young kids love watching the old corn grinding machinery, the antique children clothes and toys and the early 1900 music instruments
• Laugh (otherwise you may cry) at the 1960s food prices. How about 39 cents a pound for Prime Ribs or 49 cents for half-gallon ice cream? I wonder how much the gas was…

I spent quite some quality Art at the Pickens Museum time upstairs with my 4 years old admiring the works from the 29th Juried South Carolina Artists Exhibition. I suggest asking kids questions like “What does this painting makes you feel?”, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind?”…you’ll be surprised by some of the answers. Either way seeing them drawn to art and interpreting paintings it’s priceless.

Where
Hagood Mill is located at 138 Hagood Mill Road, Pickens SC 29761, 3 miles north of city of Pickens and close to Cherokee Foothills Hwy 11.
The museum is in downtown Pickens, at 307 Johnson Street, near the intersection of Hwys 183 and 178. Operation hours are Tuesday to Saturday mostly 9 AM to 5 PM (Thus is till 7:30 PM, Sat till 4:30 PM).

Live the history in Pickens County and scenic South Carolina Upcountry!

Must see waterfalls in the South Carolina Upcountry (fun things to do outdoor with kids)

Here are some free and highly rewarding outdoor activities near Oconee State Park and Lake Jocassee in the breath-taking (I know I used this term a lot…but it’s so true) South Carolina Upcountry and Western North Carolina. Your kids will remember these trips for ever. To help you plan ahead here is a custom Google Map with these waterfalls as well as other area attractions worth shouting about.

Issaqueena Falls and the Stumphouse Tunnel
Issaqueena is the most visited waterfall Isaqueena riding to her love and the only one with a “Romeo and Juliet” like love story. Legend has it Issaqueena rode her horse great distance to warn her (white-man) husband about fast approaching Indians seeking revenge for her marriage betrayal. Some say she died during the quest others speak of a happy ending. Either way the power of love prevailed.
The hike from the viewing area to the bottom of the fall is short but strenuous. I had to piggy back carry my 4 years old but we were rewarded with an up close view of the 200 feet gorgeous waterfall.

While in the area visit the Stumphouse Tunnel where big railroad dreams crushed but the blue cheese flourished. 1,500 Irish-immigrants workers and their families came to Stumphouse Mountain to work on the tunnel meant to complete the railroad from Charleston all the way to Ohio. In the 1850s “Tunnel Hill was a rough town with more saloons than churches”. The tunnel supposed to be 5,863 feet long and its deepest point 236 feet below the surface. However the massive granite stone posed significant challenges and workers could barely get to 200 feet a month. Stumphouse Tunnel

It was hard back-breaking labor of 12 hours a day six days a week using only sledge hammers, hand drills and black powder. The Civil War and constant lack of funding put an end to the project and Tunnel Hill faded into history.

In 1940s Dr. Paul G. Miller from Clemson University noticed the tunnel ideal conditions for curing blue cheese: year around temperature of 59 degrees and 85% humidity.

Issaqueena Falls and the Stumphouse Tunnel are located on Hwy 28 between Walhalla and Oconee State Park.

Whitewater Falls
Upper Whitewater FallsAt 700 feet the Whitewater Falls are the highest falls series in the East (the Upper ones are 411 feet). The falls are close to Devils Fork and Oconee State Park and you can get to the park from highways 28, 107, 11 and 130. You will need to pay $2 daily admission fee. A half mile trail takes you to a breath-taking viewing area; beware the last segment has steep boardwalk steps. There is no trail to reach the base of the Upper Whitewater falls.

If you travel with little kids make sure to point out the funny cartoon sign remind them how dangerous the waterfall area can be. It worked well with my daughter.

Oconee Station Cove Falls
You can access the trail leading to the Cove Falls from Oconee Historic Station parking lot or Oconee State Park (connecting from the Oconee Trail). This is by far the longest (~3 miles round trip) and most diverse hike around a peaceful pond, through odd shaped trees, into a deep eerie forest, and along an intimate and refreshing creek. Fun at the bottom of Cove Falls
At the end it’s all worth it. The fall has a wide base area which makes it very popular with kids as they can hop around the rocks and get in the water safely.

Table Rock Falls
The Table Rock State Park has lots of mini waterfalls along the 1.9 mile Carrick Creek Trail that loops around the Nature Center. This is the only recommended trail for hiking with young children. With a fall every other minute it provides instant gratification to the little ones and perfect photo background. Right above the Nature Center it’s a fantastic rock-sliding and swimming spot little children just adore. This is the perfect “bribe” to keep them hiking on your way back.

Bridal Veil and Cullasaja Falls
These are separate falls located along scenic Hwy 64 Boy rock slides in Cullasaja river between Highlands and Franklin, the NC gem and gold mining star. Yes is the other Carolina but very close to the border and worth shouting about!
Bridal Veil is the only one I know of that you can drive through it. Cullasaja river boasts the teens’ favorite rock-sliding and swimming spot in the area. Motorists stop frequently to take photos, enjoy the incredible views and just have a laugh watching the children jump Tarzan-style into the river.

Make sure to stop by the Jackson Hole Gem Mine for some rubies and sapphires rock-hounding. Your kids will love that.

Downtown Greenville Reedy River Falls

An oasis of relaxation downtown Greenville

An oasis of relaxation downtown Greenville

One can’t forget the 60 foot falls nestled along scenic Reedy River feet away from downtown Greenville. Relaxing with loved ones along the river walk has become a weekend tradition for the Upstate capitol city.

You can picnic, walk, jog, bike, feed ducks and geese, play freesbie with the dog and enjoy the free entertainment at the pavilion.

Little kids love splashing about at the man-made water park or take part in classical story tales at the Children’s Garden. Everyone is invited to a funny quirky “Mice on Main” scavenger hunt downtown and to greet elephants, lions and giraffes at nearby Greenville Zoo!

History lovers and art collectors must visit Pendleton, “the Charleston of the Upstate“. The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Notable attractions: Farmer’s Hall (oldest continuous operating hall in the country), Hunter’s Store, Ashtabula (1st licensed tavern), Old Stone Church (where Andrew Pickens and Gen. Anderson are buried) and Woodburn (centuries old 4 story mansion and farm)

Safe hiking and happy waterfall viewing in the Carolinas!

What kids, adults and even pets love to do at Oconee State Park (a fun and affordable family vacation in SC)

Recently I spent an extraordinary week with my 4 years old at the Oconee State Park in beautiful Carolina Upcountry. If you wonder about what to do, where to go and what places to visit while vacationing in the South Carolina mountains then read along.

Free activities
• Hike the easygoing 1 mile loop trail to enjoy gorgeous views around the lake. Lassie in the canoe!
Serious trekkers are rewarded with the start of the famous 80 mile Foothills Trail.
• Stop by the playground where little ones can run around and you can picnic, volleyball and relax by the lake.
• Visit the interpretive room to learn about the very rare chestnut and the versatile hickory trees. Centuries ago chestnut trees graced our forests from northern Appalachian Mountains all the way to Mississippi. The wood was resistant to rot and easy to split thus it was used for building fences and railroads. Legend has it a 20 foot rail could be split with a single wedge! Chestnut was a valuable source to produce the acid used for tanning leather. Back then, entire communities depended on the “acid” factories. In 1904 people in New York started to see trees being killed by blight and by 1930s all the trees were almost extinct.

Teen jumping in the lake At Oconee you can still spot stumps of this once majestic tree. Hickory, a truly American tree (there is only one other specy in eastern China), is quite abundant, with four varieties thriving at the Oconee park. Its wood has an unequal combination of strength, elasticity and toughness making it the major raw material for producing sporting goods. Hickory it’s also used to flavor barbecue.
• Swim Fri to Sun(11 AM to 5 PM). Lifeguards on duty. Bring some flotation device to keep little kids entertained. Older kids keep themselves busy at the diving platform
• Chase geese and ducks around. May not seem like much to you but trust me little ones never get tired of it. Don’t worry; no animals get harmed…when they had enough they just take off.

Activities under $5 and $10
• Putt-putt golf: $1.50 per game
• Pedal boats: $5 / hour (go with #7 the red sparkling one)
• Boating and fishing, canoeing or kayaking. Like paradise at Oconee lake

The sign says $10 / half-day or $20 / whole day. I paid $3 for an hour of kayaking. Cabin renters can get a “John” boat for the whole week for $50. Beware private boats are not allowed on the park lake, only rental fishing boats.You need a SC fishing license. The lake has excellent bass, bream, catfish and trout fishing.
• Friday night Square Dancing at the Barn: $2 for adults and $1 for children.

Tips to know before you go
1. There are 2 things you MUST bring along to keep little ones entertained in the evenings: a portable or car DVD player and a flashlight.

2. There is no TV and the cell signal is almost null. Those of you who can’t survive without the world wide web, the Chick-fill-A in Seneca has free Wifi Internet and an awesone indoor playground.

3. Take advantage of the fire pit and grill and try to have a fire every night. It’s priceless. You don’t have to cook much; hot-dogs followed by marshmallows will do just fine. You can get a stack of wood cheaply from the stands along Hwy 28 that leads to the park.

4. Go to Ingles in Walhalla for grocery shopping and to Wal-Mart in Seneca for anything else…

Area Attractions
Here are some suggestions on things to do while vacationing at Oconee. Check and print this custom Google Map with all the attractions listed below. Everything is less than an hour drive and most of them are FREE to attend.
Walhalla Trout Fish Hatchery – see the life stages of, feed and even fish three species of trout
• Visit the centuries old Oconee Historic Station and Hagood Mill the oldest continuous operating grist mill in the Carolina.
• Learn how electricity is made and nuclear reactors works at Duke’s World of Energy museum.
• See the legendary Issaqueena and the breathtaking Whitewater waterfalls (highest in the East).
• Go to Lake Jocassee at Devils Fork State Park for year around swimming, boating and even scuba-diving. This is the finest fishing place in the Southeast.
• Mine for rubies, sapphires and even gold in Franklin, NC. Make sure to stop near Cullahasa Falls on Hwy 64 (between Highlands and Franklin) for some awesome rock-sliding in the river.
• Admire country largest collection of nature-based sculptures and hundreds of exotic ornamental plants at the SC Botanical Garden (located on the Clemson University campus).
• Journey back in time and shop for incredible antiques at historic Pendleton, the Charleston of the Upstate! Check out Farmer’s Hall, Hunter’s Store, Ashtabula, Woodburn and Old Stone Church.

Lake Jocassee, a mini “Caribbean” vacation in the South Carolina Upcountry (family almost free things to do)

The Buzz
As soon as you step on the beach at Lake Jocassee inside Devils Fork State Park you feel like you’re in one of the fanciful Caribbean islands travel posters: Lake Jocassee beach entrance crystal clear blue waters bordered by spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains covered in lush green forests and a sun-kissed beach with a pinkish “sand” to tickle your toes.

All for just $2 daily admission or even free with a SC State Park pass.

That’s a paradise weekend gateway on the cheap (pardon me…”at a huge discount”) worth shouting about! 🙂

Tips to know before you go
1. Use your State Park guest tag (the one you hang on the rear-view mirror of your car) to any other State Parks as long as it’s still valid. During our week stay at Oconee State Park I used the tag to get in for free at Table Rock, Keowee and Devils Fork.

2. Bring life jackets, especially if you have young kids. The water has a very narrow portion to stand up safely. Only 10 feet from the shore there is a steep drop and you can no longer touch the ground.

Best to have at least 2 adults keeping constant watch on the children. With no lifeguard on the beach you’re pretty much on your on.

3. Wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen. If possible bring an umbrella. There is no shade on the beach and the sun gets scorching in the summer.

4. It takes quite a hike through some big rocks to walk to and from the beach, so wear something comfortable and sturdy. If you’re not in a mood for exercising best to bring a cooler along with all the necessary refreshments.
Boys having fun at Lake Jocassee
5. At the top of the stairs there is a snacks stand, an equipment rental office, restrooms and showers.

Ice-cream is the king and you can get it for $3.

Beware the showers inside the women’s restroom didn’t work when I was there (first week in June).

Things to do at Lake Jocassee and Devils Fork Park
1. Fish in one of the Southeast finest lakes offering trophy smallmouth bass, crappy and bluegill.

2. Scuba-dive or boat the 7,500-acre clear and deep reservoir lake with 75 miles of shoreline and four boat-launch areas each with generous parking.

3. Swim, tube, jet sky, canoe or kayak year around. Beware there is no lifeguard at the beach.

4. Hike the 1.5 mile easygoing Oconee Bell Nature Trail (named after the rare wildflower found along) or the 3.5 miles moderate Bear Cove Trail through the hardwood forest.

Lodging
The main lakeside campground has 59 paved sites with water and electrical hook-ups and 25 tent sites with elevated pads, picnic tables, grill pits. Nothing like napping on the water On the northern shore of the lake there is a primitive campsite accessible only by boat. These sites are available on a first come first served basis and you need to pack out what you packed in.

The park also offers 20 mountain villas with 2 and 3 bedrooms. They have TV, screened porches, and fully equipped kitchens. Best thing of all each villa has its private beach, boat ramp and parking area. One drawback pets are not allowed in or around the villas.

Free and Affordable Area Attractions:
• Duke’s Power World of Energy – kids learn how electricity is generated from water, coal and uranium. At Upper Whitewater Falls
Your best chance to safely get up close and personal to a nuclear reactor!
• Walhalla Fish Hatchery
Numerous waterfalls like the Upper and Lower Whitewater (highest in the East) and Issaqueena
• Oconee Historic Station, Hagood Mill and Pickens County Museum
• Ruby and sapphire gem hunting in Franklin, NC (less than 1 hour away, need to pay admission and gem bucket mining…expect $10-$20 per person)

• History lovers and art collectors go visit Pendleton, “the Charleston of the Upstate” located near Clemson off of Hwy 28 and 76. The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Notable attractions: Farmer’s Hall (oldest continuous operating hall in the country), Hunter’s Store, Ashtabula (1st licensed tavern, $6 admission fee), Old Stone Church (where Andrew Pickens and Gen. Anderson are buried) and Woodburn (4 story mansion, $6 admission fee)

Where
Devils Fork is easily reached from S.C. 11, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway. Here is the exact address 161 Holcombe Circle, Salem, SC 29676 and the Google Map. For more info and to make reservations call (864) 944-2639, or 1-866-345-PARK or visit the official state parks website

Have your beach mountain paradise at Lake Jocassee in South Carolina Upcountry!

A great weekend in Greenville: free things to do and places to visit with the kids

Greenville is the most picturesque, family friendly and travel attractions bountiful city in South Carolina, if not the Southeast. Falls and bridge downtown Greenville
It offers a variety of free and fun things to do and see; Downtown it’s easily accessible and offers wide sidewalks peppered with cafes, restaurants and free entertainment. There is always something going on downtown.

Where else can you admire 60 foot waterfall right in the middle of the city?

Here is a list of activities you can do while visiting Greenville.

Free activities
• Mice on Main scavenger hunt, the fun way to stroll up and down Main Street.
• Picnic, walk, bike, learn about the city’s history or just play at the incredible scenic Falls Park along the Reedy River. Pay your respects to Shoeless Joe, Carolina’s beloved famous baseball player in the 1900s.
• Live the fairy tales at the outdoor Children’s Garden
• The SC Botanical Gardens has the country’s only nature-based sculpture collection; it also features thousands of ornamental plants varieties and natural woodlands and streams
• McPherson Park opened in 1884 is the city’s oldest park and features a log cabin, putt-putt golf and tennis courts.

• Drive to Pickens (about 20 miles west of Greenville) to see Hagood Mill “Where Memories are Made” the only still commercially operating grist mill and home to many folk and arts festivals. Stop by the Pickens County Museum of History and Art to see some great collections like Andrew Pickens duel pistols and the old jail cell.

Activities under $5
• See elephants paint Famous Elephant Painter and Siamang monkey call out their love at the Greenville Zoo inside Cleveland Park
• Visit the state’s largest planetarium at the Roper Mountain Science Center

• History lovers and art collectors visit Pendleton, “the Charleston of the Upstate” just 30 miles southwest of Greenville (hwy 76 and 28). The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Notable attractions: Farmer’s Hall (oldest continuous operating hall in the country), Hunter’s Store, Ashtabula (1st licensed tavern), Old Stone Church (where Andrew Pickens and Gen. Anderson are buried) and Woodburn (4 story mansion)

Parking and getting around downtown

Free parking in the weekends and evenings (on non-event days) at:
• River Street Lot
• Bowater Garage
• Irvine Street Lot
• W. Washington Street Deck (Bus Transfer Station)
• Richard Street Garage
• Augusta Street (near the Stadium)

Ride the trolley for free on Main Street. For a calendar of events in the Greenville area visit www.greatergreenville.com

2009 Update! Finally, The Children Museum is now open!

Cooler than NASCAR!

Cooler than NASCAR!

The museum is located downtown, near Greenville Museum of Art, the Public Library and The Little Theater.

This place rocks!
Kids can launch a satellite, race a Formula 1 car, perform live and record music, remote control a cool crane, shop at a supermarket, get digested in a giant stomach, play with laser and much, much more…

Admission is $12 (free for kids under 1) and the museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 9AM – 5PM (noon on Sundays).

Enjoy your family weekend in awesome Greenville, South Carolina!