This weekend, the neighboring cities of Cayce and West Columbia welcome back marquee events that haven’t been seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Saturday of back-to-back festivals on opposite ends of State Street starts at 10 a.m. in West Columbia, where Kinetic Derby Day invites children and adults to build and race soapbox carts down the hill on Meeting Street. The event will also feature an “artisan fairway,” a STEAM mini-festival with “interactive science fun” and a Ferris wheel set up at the corner intersection of Meeting and State.
The day continues at 2 p.m. in Cayce (between Poplar and Railroad on State Street), as the Soiree on State block party gets back in action with music (including popular local band Tokyo Joe) on a big outdoor stage as well as artists and a kids area (with bounce courses, face painting and more).
Leaders for the two cities hope the signature events, which take place about a mile apart, will help boost local businesses, and continue to boost their identities as destinations for people in other areas of the region to visit.
“The Soiree on State on one level is a family friendly street party in the original heart of our City. But it’s really a powerful economic development engine centered around the concept of ‘pre-vitalization,’” Cayce Mayor Elise Partin said in a written statement. “It’s what has given the original heart of our City its second life and brought in more business.”
“We have purposely embraced improving the quality of life of folks in West Columbia, making our city more welcoming to creative,artistic type things and hosting these types of events,” said West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles. “It’s just a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for folks to come over and take part in activities on both ends of State Street, the ends that unite and connect Cayce and West Columbia together.”
The handful of local business owners the Chronicle reached out to had different expectations for how much they think the events will boost activity and revenue at their locations. But they were all enthusiastic about how Kinetic Derby Day and Soiree on State enhance the area’s visibility.
Piecewise Coffee, which sits inside the Cayce imprint of Soiree on State, reports seeing a 10-15% increase in sales in previous years.
“Any fun, family-friendly events in the area add to the energy and momentum happening in West Cola/Cayce!” said co-owner Lindsey Scoma. “We are glad to be a part!”
West Columbia’s D’s Wings, which moved last year from its previous Cayce location roughly equidistant from the two festival’s epicenters, reported that it didn’t see much of a boost on the day of previous Soirees.
While owner Billy Rentz does anticipate a decent boost this year — with his new location off State Street in West Columbia sitting in the middle of Kinetic Derby Day’s footprint — he seemed just as energized by the way Saturday’s events might boost the area’s momentum as an entertainment destination.
“This is a reason for [people] to come over here,” Rentz said. “And once they come over here, they’re like, ‘Holy cow, this place is cool!’”
Mike Lyons, who owns the rock club New Brookland Tavern on State Street in West Columbia, said the events aren’t likely to impact his business. His shows are at night and draw a different crowd, he explained.
But he’s still glad to see the area embracing the day’s events.
“I see the impact of what some of these things do in the city and the visibility,” he said. “All that stuff helps.”
Phill Blair, who owns WECO Bottle & Biergarten on Meeting Street in West Columbia, said he isn’t sure what to expect. The beer-focused bar and bottle shop opened in December 2019 and hasn’t been around for a Kinetic Derby Day.
“It’s good to see events happening on this side of the river,” he said. “The Vista, Five Points and Main Street at the top of the list really dominate when it comes to being known for signature events. I think the events in Cayce and West Columbia are still fairly new in terms of years, so it takes time for them to grow and have a year-round impact.”
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