[image-14]Since attending Spoleto SCENE Shakedown back in April and at every Spoleto SCENE event since, all that my fellow partygoers can seem to talk about is the Finale out at Middleton Place. Of all the shows, this half day concert-cum-picnic feels like the most accessible of all the festival offerings, appealing to the masses with relatively low ticket prices, a family friendly environment, and a well rounded musical lineup leading up to one fantastic headliner. Thousands of happy, sweaty people set camp upon the manicured, 18th century lawns of the old rice plantation yesterday, and while I saw some impressive spreads (candlelit tables! CanJam tournaments! vintage picnic baskets shaped like watermelons!), no one quite knows how to transform a grassy knoll like the SCENEsters do. [image-1]Midway between the main entrance and the stage, tucked off to the side, resided an oasis beneath a canopy of oaks. Fenced off and carefully guarded, the SCENE party grounds were the envy of many attendees at yesterday’s final Spoleto offering. Shade was at a premium, with most people seeking refuge along the tree-lined perimeter of venue until sundown. SCENE HQ felt like air conditioning in comparison to the open spaces beyond, though your ever faithful reporter still managed to capture the “drowned rat” look within 30 minutes upon arrival.
[image-6]Thankfully, the rosé was already flowing, this time provided by Tim Logan and Patrick Emerson of Curated Selections. Their enormous bottle of AIX, named after the French city where it’s made, cooled the palates of many a SCENEster and made for some regrettable photo ops later (Exhibit A: Yours Truly).
[image-17]Other beverage options included three different pours from Revelry Brewing — including one fruity saison called “Naturaleza Viva,” honoring artist Frida Kahlo, and infused with prickly pear foraged from Charleston’s own barrier islands — and a Patron tequila-based take on a Mexican mule. If there’s a Beverage Director on the SCENE party planning committee, I think it’s safe to say that we now know their poison(s).
[image-7]The drinks were most appreciated and a necessity to make it through the day. The unlikely belle of the ball, however was tall, bespectacled and bearded Baltimorean Damon Wise, who prepared enough ham salad deviled eggs to feed an army, followed by pit beef sandwiches that would make any South Carolinian question their allegiance to pulled pork. Accompaniments included herby potato salad, smoked corn on the cob slathered with mayo and ricotta salada, and giant wedges of half sour pickles. Patrons snagged heaping plates of food, then settled onto the ground to feast at low dining tables atop black and white checkered blankets, adorned by plenty of pillows for the propping of legs, hips and elbows. Talk about adorable.
[image-16]Bearskin rugs, cornhole, mini cornhole, giant beach balls, mini beach balls, string lights — you get the picture. There was no reason to leave. The SCENE encampment was the place to be until approximately 8:30 p.m., at which point everyone finally deserted to claim a spot in front of the stage among the masses, necks craning to catch a glimpse of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Music blasted, several random audience members shook tambourines — which apparently is a thing — and dozens of beach balls flew overhead during the evening’s final performance. The show concluded with a display of fireworks, each boom seemingly perfectly choreographed to Queen’s “Under Pressure.”
[image-10]It’s easy to understand why Spoleto SCENE continues to grow and attract new members. For $125, patrons gain access to specially discounted tickets for certain shows, and the best parties surrounding the festival. The Finale Party alone makes it worth the price. While I was really hoping to dig up some dirt or capture some Southern Charm worthy drama, the end result of a month’s worth of partying with the cool kids is this: SCENEsters are just like us; they are approachable, interesting, and smart for recognizing this unique opportunity afforded to them. Do yourself a favor and become a patron next year. Then perhaps you too can make out with a life-size bottle of French wine.