Ten years ago, most residents would have confessed that there wasn’t a whole lot to do in little Lake City, South Carolina. But ever since the businesswoman Darla Moore, who hails from the area, instituted ArtFields in 2013, the once-struggling tobacco town has transformed into a mecca for artists and art lovers the South over.
The nine-day celebration imports four hundred works of art, which get displayed in the library, barbershops, galleries, and banks for the tens of thousands of visitors to peruse, while they also enjoy street entertainment and workshops. This year, April 26–May 4, ArtFields is giving away more than $145,000 to the winning artists—the top two will be chosen by a jury of professionals and two more by spectators, and more than a dozen runners-up will receive prize money as well. “Winning makes a significant impact on these artists’ lives,” says Kevin Lassen, who has volunteered with ArtFields since its inception and joined the team full-time in 2016.
One could say the same for the community, which retains the top four pieces from the festival for Lake City’s permanent collection. “I grew up in Sumter, which is about forty-five minutes away,” Lassen says. “Lake City was just a place you drove through to get to the beach. Now there are new businesses all over the place. The transition is astounding.”