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AME Church Convocation to feature free concert, health expo

Story by: scnow.com › The Seventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church will host its second-annual God First Holy Convocation 2018 Wednesday through Saturday (April 18-21) at the Florence Center.

The Seventh Episcopal District includes all of South Carolina's AME churches. Under the leadership of Bishop Samuel L. Green Sr., presiding prelate of the Seventh Episcopal District, this annual church gathering has become more than a typical church meeting where the state's 400-plus AME churches assemble for business and workshops.

This year's theme is "The Well." The convocation will feature gospel artists Smokie Norful and Vashawn Mitchell, concluding with a free "Night of Joy" concert by Mitchell, according to a news release from the Seventh Episcopal District. The convocation also will boast a free health and wellness expo hosted by The Balm in Gilead. The group's mission is to "prevent diseases and to improve the health status of people of the African Diaspora."

Green said this year's convocation is vastly different from the AME church's past gatherings.

"The God First Holy Convocation is not your standard church meeting," Green said. "It's a convocation gathered together to empower laity and clergy to be able to do more effective ministry.

"As I look back over the 40 years that I have served in ministry, I recognized as a pastor that often times I went to meetings, and I left the meetings empty. I wanted more. I sought more. I began to seek other conference and other convocations to be able to find that fulfilling that I needed to be able to be more effective in ministry."

SOURCE: Morning News scnow.com

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Florence Center celebrates renovations

STORY BY: SCNOW.COM › The Florence Center held a meet-and-greet Thursday afternoon (4/12/18) to celebrate renovations that will allow the center to continue to provide economic power to the Pee Dee region.

The renovations, as explained by general manager Paul Beard, were designed to make the center a more competitive location for conventions, weddings, and other high-money events. As Beard explained, those events provide a tremendous economic benefit to Florence because with a convention or a wedding, people who attend are from other places and usually stay in hotels and eat several meals nearby, providing needed tax revenue to the city and county.

Until the renovations, which include a new kitchen, two ballrooms, and a new façade, the center was mostly used for events like concerts, circuses and basketball games. These are not as powerful an economic force because usually the people attending those events are more locally based and do not need to stay in hotels and may not eat meals in the area, which does not provide tax revenue to power the city and county’s budgets.

Another part of the renovations was a rebranding of the center from the Florence Civic Center to the Florence Center. Civic centers have a negative connotation in the events industry because they are associated with big buildings out in the middle of nowhere, Beard added. Centers, on the other hand, provide positive connotation and the marketing staff is already finding potential sales to be more receptive to the new name.

Already, the center is basically booked for the remainder of 2018, including every date in December, and has already scheduled dates as far out as 2024.

The center as explained by Mayor Pro Tempore Frank “Buddy” Brand and County Council Chairman Kent Caudle is the economic engine that has powered the growth of hotels, shopping centers, and restaurants in West Florence.

Caudle remembered during a brief speech that he used to bird hunt in the area where the Florence Center now stands. The area was used to produce dirt to construct Interstate 95.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the city and county councils decided by one vote to build a civic center to take advantage of the location near the mid-point of I-95. Then, the city and county got together again and decided to add convention capabilities to the center, according to Brand’s speech.

Now, as Beard said at the end of his speech, the future of the center and, of Florence, is now.

Florence County Councilman Alphonso “Al” Bradley and John Miller of Thompson-Turner Construction also spoke at the event.

SOURCE: Morning News SCNOW.COM Matthew Christian, Reporter

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Keith Sweat to Perform in Pee Dee for First Time Ever

The Florence Center has just announced that for the first time ever in the Pee Dee, musical icon Keith Sweat will perform live in concert. The one-night-only event takes place on Saturday, June 16th at the Florence Center arena.

"Keith Sweat has never performed in Florence or the Pee Dee before, so this should be a stellar show. The area has been asking for Keith for years now, so it's about time we brought him in," stated the concert promoter behind this tour.

Keith Sweat, an American R&B and soul, singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, radio personality, and all-around music legend, has been performing around the world since the late 80's. Hit songs like Make it Last Forever, Twisted, I Give All My Love to You, Freak Me, Nobody, and many more Billboard chart-toppers from the 80's, 90's, and new millennium through today have preserved Sweat as an icon of R&B.

"Keith Sweat Live in Concert" will be held on Saturday, June 16, 2018, at 7:00 PM at the Florence Center. Tickets go on sale to the public Monday, April 16th at 10:00 AM and will be available at the Florence Center Box Office, Ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

"We're excited to bring Keith Sweat to the fans especially around Father's Day weekend. This is such a wonderful gift idea and perfect event for a memorable Father's Day Weekend celebration," read a statement from the tour.

Recognition and Awards: According to Billboard, Keith Sweat albums made the Billboard 200 Albums of the Year Chart eight times in his career; 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998, and in 2001. His songs made the Billboard Hot 100 Song of the Year Charts six times in his career; in 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996, and 1997. In 1988 he was nominated by the American Music Award for the Favorite Album – Soul/R&B for Make it Last Forever. Again in 1990 the American Music Awards nominated Sweat for Favorite Single Soul/ Rhythm & Blues for the single “Merry Go Round” and for Favorite Male Artist – Soul/Rhythm & Blues. For both categories he lost to singer and performer MC Hammer. The 1996 American Music Awards once again had Sweat nominated for an award, this time it was again for Favorite Album – Soul/ Rhythm & Blues and again in the following year he was nominated for Favorite Male Artist – Soul/ Rhythm & Blues. His one American Music Award win came in 1996 for the category Favorite Male Artist - Soul/ Rhythm & Blues.

Pee Dee State Fair to be 'a great event'

STORY BY SCNOW.COM › A fair advisory committee met for the first time Thursday (4/5/18) to discuss the Greater Pee Dee State Fair & Expo, set to take place in September.

Several community leaders, including staff from the Florence Center, members of the Clemson 4-H extension, FSD1 officials, and others, were introduced to plans for the all-new annual fair.

Hubert Bullard, fair manager for the Florence Center, said the event will be a community-wide effort.

“We can’t do it without feedback and people in the community,” Bullard said. “We are very excited and we feel this is going to be a great event. My favorite part of my job is getting to come in and plan stuff for people to have an enjoyable time and that’s the point of this fair.”

General manager Paul Beard said there are children in the community who would never be able to experience a place like Disney World, Six Flags or even the State Fair in Columbia.

“It blows me away every day how much the community is growing and how much it has expanded,” Beard said. “There’s a large population here and in the surrounding areas that have never experienced something like this.”

“This is their Disney World,” Beard said.

The Pee Dee State Fair & Expo will be an 11-day fair, running from Sept. 6 to Sept. 16. Bullard said the production will feature close to 50 rides, including the world’s largest portable roller coaster, one of the tallest mobile swing towers in the nation named "Cloud Nine," as well as a 140-foot-tall pendulum-style gondola with speeds reaching 40 to 50 mph.

In addition to the many rides, the fair will have several entertainment shows, agriculture exhibits, vendors, games, food and more.

Amanda Stein, co-owner of PrimeTime Amusements LLC, the company that is putting on the Spring Carnival and will produce the fair in September, said the location will make the fair successful.

“We’ll have a lot more rides, and many unique rides that no other fair in the country will have,” Stein said. “I think the location is really good. A lot of people are showing up here for the Spring Carnival and we expect great attendance for the one in the fall.”

One of the biggest questions surrounding the fair is the parking situation. Beard said the fair will take up the entire top deck of the parking lot at the Florence Center.

With expected attendance in the thousands, Beard said, the Florence Center is working with the Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority to set up satellite parking lot options for the event.

“This is going to be the centerpiece of the Florence region for years to come,” Beard said. “We are open to input because we really want this thing to explode.”

Fair admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 years or younger. Adults can purchase tickets in advance for $5 at florencefair.com beginning soon.

Source: SCNOW.COM ANDREW BOARDWINE / MORNING NEWS

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Monster Jam® Races into Florence Center

The most family-friendly, action-packed motorsport in the world races into Florence Center on May 5 and May 6, 2018

Feld Entertainment, the worldwide leader in live family entertainment, announced today that tickets for Monster Jam® are on sale now for Florence! The new season will bring motorsport fans to the edge of their seats with adrenaline-charged, high-flying, four-wheel excitement that is fun for the entire family. Tickets are on sale now and available by calling 800-745-3000, at www.Ticketmaster.com or the Florence Center Box Office.

Saturday, May 5
Pit Party: 10:30am – Noon
Show time: 1pm
Show time: 7pm

Sunday, May 6
Pit Party: 10:30am – Noon
Show time: 1pm

Unexpected, unscripted and unforgettable, Monster Jam takes center stage in the world’s most iconic venues like Florence Center, sporting meticulously manicured dirt tracks created with the sole purpose of pushing these perfectly engineered, larger-than-life trucks to the limit.

Monster Jam is one of the only sports where male and female world-class drivers, some generational rivals, are equals competing for the same championship on the same track. Following racing, new in 2018 across all Monster Jam events, fans in every city will have the chance to vote for the truck winner in the freestyle competition by real-time, in-arena fan voting on their smartphones.

This year’s event features Grave Digger driven by Pablo Huffaker, Jailbird driven by Kaylyn Migues, Jester driven by Matt Pagliarulo, Master of Disaster, Monster Mutt driven by Kevin Crocker, Nitro Menace driven by Darren Migues, Slinger driven by Scott Hartsock, Stinger Unleashed driven by Zane Rettew
(trucks & drivers are subject to change without notice)

Festival of Praise Tour Canceled

Please Note: The Festival of Praise Tour scheduled for April 8th has been canceled.

Unfortunately, due to low ticket sales, the tour and venue have decided to cancel the upcoming concert originally scheduled for Sunday, April 8.

“All of the shows that we have recently hosted have exceeded the anticipated attendance.” Says Paul Beard, General Manager for the Florence Center. “Unfortunately, this concert did not. We will continue to strive to bring entertainment that the community will embrace”.

Ticket holders can receive refunds at their original point of purchase.

Spring Carnival coming to Florence

Story By Morning News SCNOW.com - March 28, 2018

The Florence Center Spring Carnival will be bigger than ever this year, but it will still be but a dress rehearsal for what is to come in September.

The Spring Carnival, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday, April 8, is an 11-day fair with rides, fair games, and food in the parking lot of the Florence Center.

Hubert Bullard, the Florence Center’s fair manager, said the spring carnival will have 22 to 24 rides and more than 25 games of skill.

“This is the most we’ve ever had for a spring carnival,” Bullard said. “This is really getting ready to kick the ‘amusement side’ of things off at the Florence Center as we prepare for September.”

The Florence Center announced in January that it would host the Greater Pee Dee State Fair & Expo, an 11-day fair set to start Thursday, Sept. 6, that will be produced on a much larger scale than anything ever done in the Florence area before.

“Our focus in the Pee Dee for the Spring Carnival will be giving people a sample of what’s to come in the fall,” Bullard said. “We would like folks to come out and get a sampling and see the bigger and better things that are yet to come. We want to hear from different people and really make this a community event.”

In addition to rides and games, the carnival will feature plenty of food, including cotton candy, popcorn, candy apples, funnel cakes, barbecue, ribs, blooming onions, and more.

Bullard said the same group, Primetime Amusements LLC, that will put on the Spring Carnival will produce the Greater Pee Dee State Fair & Expo in September.

“We’re generating a lot of interest and positive feedback,” Bullard said. “The fair in the fall will have more than 40 amusement rides and the largest portable roller coaster in the world. This is a great chance for them to get used to the layout and really get everything ready to go.”

Admission for the Spring Carnival is free and each ride takes around three to five tickets. Tickets are $1 apiece or you can purchase an unlimited ride wristband for $20.

“It’s always exciting to see the community come together,” Bullard said. “It’s going to be well-attended and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback. The kids are out of school next week, so what better way to spend spring break than to have the opportunity to come out to the Spring Carnival.”

The carnival will be open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

SOURCE: ANDREW BOARDWINE / MORNING NEWS
www.scnow.com

Rodeo gives show in Florence for people with special needs

STORY BY SCNOW.COM - Hundreds of children and adults with special needs experienced the sights and sounds of a live rodeo Thursday morning at the Florence Center.

The Double Creek Pro Rodeo provided a full show and gave attendees the opportunity to meet cowboys, cowgirls and animals in a safe environment.

Matt McGee, announcer of the rodeo, said there were close to 1,000 in attendance for this year’s event.

“This is one of the best times of the year for us,” McGee said. “We’ve done it every year. It’s just for the special needs children and adults of the area. It’s something that they don’t normally get to see and we volunteer to do it. It makes us happy seeing them happy. They made a memory today that will last them a lifetime.”

McGee said one of the most special moments for him during the event was hearing the crowd in attendance sing the national anthem.

“We did a lot of dancing and singing today,” McGee said. “Halfway through the national anthem, we turned the soundtrack off and they sang it just like a choir. It’s a great time for them, but we get as much out of it as they do.”

Admission for the event was free and the Florence County Sheriff’s Office provided a bag lunch for everyone in attendance.

VIEW PHOTO GALLERY
VIEW STORY SOURCE

Jarwon Lucas, a teacher at West Hartsville Elementary School, said it was the first time for the majority of his students to see a rodeo.

“It gives them something different,” Lucas said. “If they do something out of the ordinary, you don’t have all the crazy looks and it really just gives the kids the opportunity to freely express themselves. We have a lot of nonverbal students, so they have to look, feel, touch and see and then they interpret it in their own way. Today, they had the opportunity to do that.”

The Florence Stampede & Pro Rodeo will take place at 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night at the Florence Center. Tickets for adults are $11 general admission and kids are $6. Reserved seating is also available for $21.

“This is the fifth annual Florence Stampede & Pro Rodeo,” McGee said. “We go around the United States putting on a pro rodeo and help preserve the western way of life. Florence is always a great stop and we look forward to the next couple of shows.”

SOURCE: SCNOW.COM MORNING NEWS
By: Andrew Boardwine, Reporter

Pee Dee state fair to debut this year in Florence

STORY BY SCNOW.COM › The Florence Center has announced plans to launch a new 11-day fair for the state of South Carolina.

The Greater Pee Dee State Fair & Expo will debut Thursday, Sept. 6, and will run through Sunday, Sept. 16.

The fair will be self-produced by the Florence Center in conjunction with PrimeTime Amusements LLC and will have major attractions, including thrill rides, games, food and entertainment.

According to an announcement from the Florence Center, the Greater Pee Dee State Fair will encompass the entire grounds at the Florence Center with kiddie rides, family rides, thrill rides and special attractions. The fair will showcase one of the tallest mobile swing towers in the nation, as well as a 140-foot-tall pendulum-style gondola with speeds reaching the 40-50 mph.

“This will not be a small carnival event, but rather a state-wide major fair production with all the attractions, entertainment, and rides one could ask for,” said Paul Beard, general manager of the Florence Center. “The magnitude of this fair will deliver far more than anything else like it in the area.”

The fair will also feature several forms of entertainment, including the Kachunga & Alligator Show, Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean, comedy and magic shows, the FARM-ily FEUD Game Show and Survivor Family Game Show.

Nick Hooker, director of marketing for the Florence Center, said the event will be unlike anything the Florence Center has hosted in the past.

“I’m realizing the considerable size of this fair each day as another element comes together and very excited to see just how big it can get,” Hooker said. “We have rides, games and attractions already booked which completely fill both the west and south parking lots. We have an enormous petting zoo in the VIP parking lot, multiple stages of entertainment throughout and of lots of food vendors. We’re bringing in a colossal big-top circus tent for extra activities and local vendors. This is going to be a mammoth event and I’m a little anxious to see how we’re going to make everything fit. Several satellite parking sites may be next on the list."

Fair admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 12 years and younger. Adults can purchase tickets in advance for $5 at the fair website beginning soon.

“We want every family, every child and every age to have the opportunity to enjoy these special attractions and rides,” Beard said. “It’s all about having a great time, not overcharging our community of friends.”

The Florence Center has also announced the creation of two other new events: The S.C. Bridal Showcase, to be held on Sunday, Sept. 30, and the Jingle Bell Market, which will be Nov. 15-18.

› SOURCE: SCNOW.COM Morning News
› As written by: Andrew Boardwine, Reporter


The Most Epic Show on Earth! Garden Bros. Circus coming to Florence Center

Come see the All New GARDEN BROS CIRCUS! This year’s production is packed with breathtaking special effects, concert style lighting and 3 RINGS bursting with excitement, laughter and memories that families will cherish. We have brought the very best performers from 18 countries making up a cast of over 60 performers. GARDEN BROS CIRCUS presents a fast paced 90 minute show in a Theatrical European 3 ring setting featuring the Human Pyramid, ELEPHANTS, Daring Aerial Artists, 6 Motorcycles in the Sphere of Fear, the Crazy Cossack Horse Riders, Chinese Acrobats, Death Defying Trapeze, Contortionists, the Funniest Clowns, Jugglers as seen on America’s Got Talent, not enough room to list any more!!!

Free children’s tickets are distributed to all elementary schools, pre-schools, day care centers and churches. The Free Tickets are also available at sponsoring businesses in the area.

First one hundred adult tickets sold online are only $12.50 at GardenBrosCircus.com

SHOW DATE: March 4, 2018
SHOW TIMES: 1:00pm, 3:30pm, 6:00pm

Get tickets: online www.GardenBrosCircus.com
Box Office on show day

Florence Center holds ribbon cutting (photo gallery)

Story by SCNOW : “We’re at the Center” is the motto for the newly branded Florence Center.

Employees and executives from the Florence Center joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the expanded facility that features 25,000 additional square feet of space.

Paul Beard, general manager of the Florence Center, said he was excited to officially open the new expansion.

“This is phenomenal,” Beard said. “The economic impact of our existing building was $42 million, and those funds help to drive what’s going on downtown as well as in the hospitality district. This puts heads in beds every time we have an event. With us being here in the intersection of I-95 and I-20, we are literally almost the dead center geographically of New York and Miami.”

Construction for the expansion of the facility began in early 2017 and cost $16 million.

The expanded facility includes an 8,000-square-foot courtyard, a 5,000-square-foot kitchen and 8,000 square feet in subdividable meeting space.

“The bookings are just blowing up,” Beard said. “We are perceived as an arena that hosts public ticketed events. What they don’t realize is that we do social events like weddings, reunions, baby showers and business events, as well.”

The expansion offers six different meeting rooms and a junior grand ballroom, which brings the total amount of space to 75,000 square feet.

Each room has large LED projectors, and the audio systems come with hearing-aid technology for those who might be hearing impaired. The center also updated the outside of the facility with a new paint job and color scheme, along with a new logo.

Nick Hooker, senior marketing manager at the Florence Center, is excited about the new brand.

“It’s been over a year of progressing watching it being built,” Hooker said. “Today is just an exciting day. We’re really excited to be officially kicking off the new space. The new space is fantastic and, with our 25th anniversary which is happening now, it was really time to take the center to a new level. We look forward to continuing to grow with Florence.”

The center announced three new social events coming later in 2018. The Greater Pee Dee State Fair & Expo with take place Sept. 6-16, the S.C. Bridal Showcase will be on Sunday, Sept. 30, and the first Jingle Bell Market will be Nov. 15-18.

“We’re much more than a civic center,” Hooker said. “A lot of people have a small town connotation to ‘civic center,’ but we’re way more than that. Yes, we have an arena, and yes, we do entertainment, but we also have social events and are a major driver for the economic impact of our area. Our brand’s new message is: Meet, Plan, Experience. We’re a full Florence Center offering three major types of industry: Business, social and entertainment.”

› › VIEW PHOTO GALLERY › › Visit scnow.com for original source and story

Florence Center along with 30 SMG Arenas And Theaters Win 2017 Prime Site Awards

Thirty SMG-managed arenas and theaters received the prestigious Prime Site Award presented by Facilities and Event Management magazine. The Facilities’ Prime Site award is given to the top entertainment, sports, and special event venues, including Arenas, Civic Centers, Coliseums, Auditoriums, Stadiums, Theaters, PACs, Amphitheaters, University Venues, Fairgrounds and Special Event Venues. Readers of the magazine nominate venues based on numerous criteria ranging from promotional support and event staff proficiency to physical aspects such as seating versatility, A/V and staging quality, and back-of-house amenities. Winners of the award demonstrate the ability to please both incoming acts and patrons on multiple levels.

Doug Thornton, SMG Executive Vice President, Stadiums and Arenas said, “This is continued validation that SMG-managed arenas and theaters provide their users with the greatest value and highest level of service in the industry. We are proud of the men and women of SMG for their hard work and dedication to the communities they serve.”

This year’s Prime Site winning SMG-managed arenas and theaters are:

Arie Crown Theater, Chicago, IL
Bellco Theatre, Denver, CO
BOK Center, Tulsa, OK
Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, NY
Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Concord, NC
CenturyLink Center, Bossier City, LA
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, CA
Coliseo de Puerto Rico, Hato Rey, PR
Covelli Centre, Youngstown, OH
DCU Center Arena, Worcester, MA
Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, RI
Florence Center, Florence, SC
George M. Sullivan Sports Arena, Anchorage, AK
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL
Laredo Energy Arena, Laredo, TX
Meridian Centre, St. Catharines, Ontario, CA
Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes Barre, PA
North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston, SC
Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, NE
Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA
Rogers K-Rock Centre, Kingston, ON
Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore, MD
Santander Arena, Reading, PA
Save Mart Center, Fresno, CA
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
SNHU Arena, Manchester, NH
Stockton Arena, Stockton, CA
Times Union Center, Albany, NY
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

The post 30 SMG Arenas And Theaters Win 2017 Prime Site Awards appeared first on International Association of Venue Managers at http://www.iavm.org/blogs/webtest


Royal Hanneford Circus 3-Ring Spectacular coming to the Pee Dee

It’s been many years since the last full-production 3-ring circus has been through Florence and now the Royal Hanneford Circus plans to restore a family favorite tradition in the Pee Dee. The Royal Hanneford Circus is stepping into the new age of circus in America and bringing 3 exciting days and 5 incredible performances to the Florence Center on February 2-4, 2018.

With years of experience, Producers Adrian Poema and Nellie Hanneford Poema, along with their four talented children - Catherine, Mariana, Adrian Jr. and Tommy, are focusing on bringing forth a fresh and new, wholesome family entertainment. The Hanneford Family is guaranteed to bring smiles and laughter to each and every audience with their wide variety of high end acts and talents from all over the world.

This circus spectacular is unlike anything seen in Florence for many years with its full-scale 3-ring production. Spectators will witness colossal stunts, death-defying acts, high-flying performances and exotic animals from around the world. The astonishing event will include flying trapeze, jugglers, clowns, liberty horses, performing camels, motorcycle riders on the Globe of Death and so much more. Fans will be mesmerized from start to finish with over 45 performers throughout the circus. Plus guests of all ages are sure to enjoy the biggest stars of the show - performing elephants.

Ticket holders are encouraged to arrive early to participate in the many pre-show activities including elephant rides, camel rides, pony rides, snake photos, moon bounces, and more. Doors open to the public one hour before the show starts.

Witness a show like no other at the Royal Hanneford Circus coming to Florence Center on February 2-4, 2018. Tickets start at $17.00 and are available now at the Florence Center Box Office, Ticketmaster, florencecenter.com or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

Showtimes:
› February 2 @ 7:00PM
› February 3 @ 3:00PM & 7:00PM
› February 4 @ 1:00PM & 5:00PM

Announcing the All-New Greater Pee Dee State Fair

Florence Center officials have announced strategic plans to launch a new 11-day fair for South Carolina. The Greater Pee Dee State Fair & Expo will debut in September 2018 and promises to impress the region with major attractions, mega thrill rides, and world-class amusements.

The Greater Pee Dee State Fair will provide a safe setting for fun, healthy family entertainment featuring music, attractions, shows, animal exhibits, arts and crafts. The fair will also showcases the many diverse business interests in Florence, Florence County and the entire Pee Dee region. In addition, the fair will host a high quality traveling amusement company with more than three dozen safe state of the art carnival rides, games and food concessions.

The Greater Pee Dee State Fair will take place September 6-16, 2018 at the newly expanded Florence Center, an SMG-managed facility, located at 3300 W. Radio Dr. in Florence, South Carolina. The fair will be self-produced by the Florence Center in conjunction with PrimeTime Amusements LLC.

“This will not be a small carnival event, but rather a state-wide major fair production with all the attractions, entertainment, and rides one could ask for. The magnitude of this fair will deliver far more than anything else like it in the area,” stated Paul Beard, General Manager for the Florence Center.

The Greater Pee Dee State Fair will encompass the entire grounds at the Florence Center with kiddie rides, family rides, thrill rides and special attractions. The fair will showcase one of the tallest mobile swing towers in the nation aptly named ‘Cloud Nine’, as well as a 140-ft tall pendulum style gondola with speeds reaching 40-50mph. The ‘KMG Experience’ with rotating tri-arms and massive cable-cars is also scheduled for the fair and is one of only two of its kind in the US. In addition to the many coasters, carousels, ferris wheels, slides, and thrill rides, the Pee Dee based fair will also feature several national talent shows including:

Kachunga & The Alligator Show
Kachunga and the Alligator Show has thrilled audiences around the world for more than twenty years. The show is entertaining and educational and will dismisses many myths about the alligator with true facts. You will see Kachunga enter the water and capture the eight-foot 250 lbs American alligator with his bare hands and place him on the show platform. The audience will then get a close up look at the alligator's eyes, ears and a rare look inside the alligator's mouth when Kachunga opens it wide.

Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean
Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean is an aerial high wire show with swashbuckling fun for the whole family. You will see pirate sword fights up to 25 feet in the air! This unique family based show performed by the famous Murcia Family is sure to have buckaroos of all ages smiling, grinning, laughing and completely amazed!

Comedy & Magic Shows
Magician Bob Bohm presents magic, comedy and fun, jam packed with audience participation, baffling magic, live animals and side splitting humor that's designed to delight and amaze!

FARM-ily FEUD Game Show
Agricultural education becomes fun and entertaining. Teams are pitted against each other to test their knowledge of farming, farm animals and what comes from a farm, combined with silly skill games to declare the top farmer.

Survivor Family Game Show
"Survivor" meets "Gilligan's Island" in this fun and interactive event. The game show combines silly challenges along with audience participation and popular TV show themes to see who will be the ultimate survivor. Be there to cast your vote and help the audience decide the final winner!

Fair goers can test their skills at the many carnival games and activities scheduled for the 11-day event. Several thousand prizes will be on hand to reward those willing to challenge and participate. Fair favorites, skilled games, co-op activities, and some new and unique games will be available for play.

The Greater Pee Dee State Fair will have all you favorite fair foods and carnival snacks to indulge. Enjoy elephant ears, fried chocolates, burgers, nachos or any of the endless items throughout the fair grounds. Then wash it all down with ice cold Pepsi products or Aquafina waters.

Officials say affordability is a key factor for the Grater Pee Dee State Fair. “We want every family, every child, and every age to have the opportunity to enjoy these special attractions and rides. It’s all about having a great time, not overcharging our community of friends,” stated Beard. Fair admission is only $7.00 for adults and $3.00 for children 12 years or younger. Adults can purchase tickets in advance for only $5.00 at the fair website www.florencefair.com beginning soon.

FUN FROM DAY 1
The Greater Pee Dee State Fair & Expo
September 6-16, 2018
Florence Center
www.florencefair.com


Safety of every guest is the top priority for the Greater Pee Dee State Fair. The Greater Pee Dee State Fair is a member of the South Carolina Association of Fairs and the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. Each and every ride will be inspected by Wagner Consulting Group Inc and the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR.) before operating or opening to the public to ensure a safe and quality experience.

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The Florence Center, formerly known as the Florence Civic Center, is growing both figuratively and literally. What it took to get here, however, was no small feat: a multi-government cooperation for a publicly funded project.... Story by Joshua Lloyd, Morning News. Click HERE to continue reading via ChamberLink news

SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo back bigger than ever this year in Florence

The sixth annual SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo will have more opportunities for farmers than ever but will still hold true to being “rooted in tradition and thriving through innovation.”

The expo will take place all day Wednesday, Jan. 17, and Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Florence Center, previously known as the Florence Civic Center.

Jody Martin, executive director of the S.C. AgriBiz & Farm Expo, said the event exists to help farmers and educate those interested in agribusiness.

“The expo is to promote the opportunities for agribusiness in South Carolina and beyond,” Martin said. “We work with a lot of partners to do that as a team effort and we’re excited this year because of the new educational tracks, keynote speakers from around the nation and locally we will have. There’s going to be a lot of information that really will educate the farmers on how to make their operations more productive, efficient and profitable.”

The expo will be the first event hosted in the newly renovated Florence Center.

Click HERE to continue reading the full story by Andrew Boardwine, MORNING NEWS

Holiday Giveaways

The “Holiday Giveaways” Contests will run from December 12, 2017 at 5:00pm until December 19, 2017 at 10:59am. Each contest will start at 11am and end at 10:59am, the following day. (With the exception of the Day 1 Giveaway which will start at 5pm on Tuesday, December 12 and end at 10:59am on Wednesday, December 13.)

*No purchase necessary. Facebook is not responsible or affiliated with this promotion.

Florence Center Awarded the ConventionSouth 2018 Top New or Renovated Meeting Sites

It is with great honor that the publishers and editors of ConventionSouth, the national multimedia resource for planning events held in the South, present Florence Center with a 2018 Top New or Renovated Meeting Site Award.

“ConventionSouth readers are constantly seeking information on the newest and like-new meeting sites in the South in order to offer their attendees the most modern facilities available, and this is why we are honored to bestow Florence Center with a Top New or Renovated Meeting Site Award,” said ConventionSouth Associate Publisher Marcia Bradford. “After a lengthy review of what Florence Center now has to offer meeting planners and attendees, we feel it indeed displays a superior commitment to providing groups with the top-of-the-line amenities and service that they require.”

Florence Center is among an elite list of 66 meeting facilities located across the South to receive this year’s Top New or Renovated Meeting Site Award. As part of the recognition, Florence Center is featured as an award recipient in the December 2017 Awards Issue of ConventionSouth magazine. This exciting issue showcases our Readers’ Choice Award Winners and some of the most talented meeting professionals in the nation as ConventionSouth also presents planners with its annual “Meeting Professionals To Watch” designation. “Featuring peer advice and trade secrets from our Meeting Professionals to Watch in 2018, our Awards Issue is one of the most popular must-read resources within the meetings industry,” Bradford said.

Celebrating 30+ years as a leading meeting planning resource, ConventionSouth magazine is based in Gulf Shores, Ala., and is distributed to more than 18,000 meeting professionals located across the country who book meetings held within the South, according to Bradford.

Horseshoe Tourney Opens in Florence

Contributed by: Morning News, scnow.com

The ring of U-shaped iron slamming into metal poles echoed throughout the Florence Center Saturday as the qualifying round for the 2017 Horseshoe Tour National Championship played out.

Saturday's round-robin competition included the 106 players from across the country who qualified to compete, said Bobby White, president of the tour.

This is the first year in Florence for the tour, said White. The community, he said, has gone out of its way to make the players feel welcome.

Sunday's play will be head-to-head competition in a best-of-three format, he said. Play will start at 9 a.m. and run through the start of finals at 1:30 p.m.

This weekend's tournament will serve as a warmup for the Pee Dee.

VIEW PHOTO GALLERY

In July of 2018, thousands of professional horseshoe players and enthusiasts from across the world will converge at the Florence Center for the National Horseshoe Pitching World Tournament.

The tournament is a two-week event and is expected to draw more than 1,200 participants from all 50 states, Canada and several other countries. It is scheduled for July 9 to July 21 of 2018.

STORY BY: Morning News, scnow.com
BY Matthew Robertson Morning News

#GivingTuesdayPeeDee Set For Tuesday After Thanksgiving

Contributed by: Morning News, scnow.com

Eastern Carolina Community Foundation (ECCF) will coordinate a collaborative giving campaign called #GivingTuesdayPeeDee for regional nonprofits on Nov. 28. Using #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration, as its inspiration, #GivingTuesdayPeeDee will promote area nonprofits to inspire philanthropy in the Pee Dee on this day.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become an international movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy.

#GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving all together on one day. Using the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in individual communities; #GivingTuesday provides a platform for nonprofits to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners — nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals — to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.

For more information about how a nonprofit organization can join #GivingTuesdayPeeDee, please email givingtuesdaypeedee@gmail.com for an application. Successful applicants will be those that are familiar using social media platforms and have the capability of taking online donations. The giving day will culminate in an open house at the Florence Center to showcase nonprofit organizations from throughout the Pee Dee. The deadline for applications is Friday.

Eastern Carolina Community Foundation is one of nearly 750 community foundation organizations across the nation that works with local citizens to improve the quality of life in their region. Serving the seven-county region of the Pee Dee, Eastern Carolina Community Foundation is a public charity that invests and manages charitable funds and assists donors in distributing those funds to nonprofit organizations. For more information call, 843-667-1131 or visit www.easterncarolinacf.org.

Story provided by Eastern Carolina Community Foundation, view at scnow.com

Legends of Motown ft. The Temptations Review CANCELLED

Due to unforeseen circumstances outside of our control the Legends of Motown Concert has been cancelled. The November 3, 2017 concert featuring The Temptations Review, The Chi-Lites, The Dramatics and The Tams, will not take place as originally scheduled.

Ticket refunds will be available at the original point of purchase. Automatic refunds will be issued to all customers who purchased via Ticketmaster phone number or Ticketmaster.com website.

Dress Like a Globetrotter Halloween Contest

Harlem Globetrotters 2018 World Tour
Florence Center
March 25, 2017 at 2pm



Want to win some tickets?? Here’s what you need to know.

Prize includes a 4-Pack of tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters at the Florence Center on March 25 at 2pm.
You must be at least 18 years old to enter.
Contest will open on Friday, October 20 at 3:30pm.
Contest ends on Monday, November 1 at 11am.
Winner announced on Wednesday, November 1 by 2pm.
Winners will be voted on by Florence Center & Globetrotter staff only.


Are you the Winner? Congratulations. Here’s what you need to know.

Tickets are only valid at the Florence Center to see the Harlem Globetrotters on March 25 at 2pm.
You can pick up your tickets at the lower level receptionist desk between regular office hours. (M-F 8:30am-5:30pm)
The prize will be held under your name, please bring a valid I.D. to claim your tickets. If the tickets have not been claimed by the date above, you may forfeit your prize without reimbursement and said tickets may be awarded to another person.
Tickets must be claimed by 3pm on Thursday, January 18, 2018.

FMU ranked among U.S. News’ “Best Colleges”

Francis Marion University once again is ranked among U.S. News & World Report magazine’s top Regional Universities in the South.

The 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges,” one of the oldest of the dozens of college rating sites on the Internet, is available today online. The information also will appear in the magazine’s print editions later this month. FMU has been a regular member of the top-ranked Regional Universities for nearly two decades.

Dr. Fred Carter, president of Francis Marion, says the ranking confirms FMU’s commitment to providing a quality education for its students.

“We are honored to be selected again this year as one of America’s Best Universities in the 2018 edition of the U.S. News & World Report,” Carter says. “This ranking highlights our continued commitment to scholarship and teaching and is a tribute to the dedication and professionalism of our wonderful faculty.”

The U.S. News & World Report rankings are divided into categories. FMU is classified as regional university, a school that provides a full range of undergraduate majors and graduate-level programs. FMU, which has long-offered master-level programs, will begin its first doctorate level program next year.

There are 658 universities listed as regional universities, which is the largest of all the magazine’s categories. Each of the regional universities is ranked against peers in their geographic region. Only a portion of the universities in each region are rated as a “Best College.” Some are not ranked at all.

U.S. News ranks colleges and universities in all its categories using data that reflects academic excellence, or another aspect of university life, such as alumni giving. It also includes a simple rating of each university by its peers throughout higher education. FMU’s rating by its peers climbed slightly this year. Most other measures remained the same. The U.S. News & World Report ranking formula gives greatest weight to academic reputation.

SOURCE: fmarion.edu
Click HERE to read the original report

The Florence Center will be closed Monday, September 11

The Florence Center will be closed Monday, September 11 due to hurricane/weather conditions, preparations and safety guidelines. The administrative and box offices will remain closed until Tuesday, September 12 or until further notice. Stay safe everyone and keep an eye on the storm conditions. You can find local shelter information by visiting redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. You can help people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

CWE brings "Battle of the Superstars" to Florence

We at Carolina Wrestling Entertainment are excited to announce that we are coming to Florence, SC for an exciting night of professional wrestling. Come and join us for a monumental night. Don't miss out on this special occasion.

The CWE are the profound leaders in pro wrestling in the Carolinas. The CWE is a Christian owned company that delivers a family oriented show. We have worked with the communities to hold benefits to help families in need, worked to collect school supplies for the kids, and look forward to continuing to serve the Carolinas.

CWE Superstars such as Great Tigger, Jay Batista, Wildcat, Diamond Darrell, Scotty Matthews, YO Erv, Chase Loveless, The Fallen Angels, Carolina Kidd, Oldschool, Party Joe, and many more will be on attendance that Saturday night. Also, the CWE Continental Championship will be on the line, as well as the CWE Tag Team Championships, and last but not least, a "Superstar Battle Royal" to determine the recently vacated, New CWE Heavyweight Champion.

"This is the first time we have ever performed at this high of a level," says CWE Owner Kelley Sauls. "The Florence Center is a big step up from all of our previous shows, but we are trusting in God, and all of the CWE fans from around the Carolinas to make this a success," continues Sauls.

The CWE will perform at the luxurious Florence Center on Saturday, October 7 at

7:30 p.m. Tickets to the attraction go on sale September 15 with prices starting at $15.00. Fans can purchase tickets at the Florence Center Box Office, Ticketmaster.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000. If you would like additional information, please email us at carolinawrestlinentertainment@gmail.com

NASCAR’s big rigs roll into town for Southern 500 weekend

Rain or shine, it’s race weekend in the Pee Dee.

You know it’s true because the car haulers of NASCAR rumbled through Florence and Darlington on Thursday evening, making their way to “the track too tough to tame” before the races on Saturday and Sunday.

The trucks parked at the Florence Center for the annual car haulers parade festival Thursday afternoon before making their way to the track, passing through the heart of Darlington along the way.

The parade and festival have become a spectacle for fans, drawing thousands each year – even in rainy conditions.

Mark Register, a Timmonsville resident, said he brings his grandkids to the car-haulers festival and parade just about every year.

“We don’t get the chance to go to every race, but we always come see the trucks,” he said. “The kids enjoy it. I enjoy it. We look forward to it every year."

Food, live music, a bouncy house and a prize drawing are all a part of the festival. The stars of the show, however, are the big rigs.

VIEW PHOTO GALLERY

As the trucks started up and headed out toward Darlington, 8-year-old Jalissa Hough said this was the moment she’d been waiting for.

“Their horns are so loud,” she said. “It’s so cool. I definitely want to come back again next year.”

Crowds were smaller than year's past at the Darlington Public Square in downtown Darlington because of the weather, but around 300 NASCAR fans endured the rain for the parade.

Samantha Harrington and Brittany McGee were among the spectators. Both women, from Darlington, are huge NASCAR fans and have been attending the Bojangles' Southern 500 for decades. They plan on attending again this year, and will camp out in tents on Saturday "the old-fashioned way."

Besides the race, Harrington and McGee said, they are drawn to the party atmosphere at Darlington Raceway.

"You come back from the race and you can depend you're not going to sleep, maybe during the day but not at night," said Harrington. "But that's what they (fans) come for, it'll be fun.

STORY BY: Morning News, scnow.com
BY JOSHUA LLOYD Morning News
Morning News Photojournalist Megan May contributed to this report.

Savvy Soiree Wedding & Event Showcase

Savvy Soiree is excited to announce the 2nd Annual Wedding & Event Showcase taking place on Sunday, August 20, 2017 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. This year’s showcase will take place in the ballroom at the Florence Center.

The showcase will be a wonderful opportunity for brides, grooms, and their families to meet and have one-on-one conversations with wedding professionals for every aspect of wedding planning. There will be wedding fashions, photographers, planners, entertainment, venues, and so much more.

The first 100 brides will receive a swag bag from The Knot, including the latest issue of The Knot magazine. Once lucky bride will have an opportunity to win a pair of pearl earrings and bracelet from local Main Street Jewelers. There will be a trip given away every hour of the showcase. Also, brides can enter to win other fantastic prizes that will be given away during the showcase.

"This is such a fabulous and exciting event which offers everything any bride could ever need…and it’s all under one roof. There’s no need to spend countless hours researching, calling, and gathering quotes because the vendors come to you. Brides, grooms, and planners can meet, sample and discuss services in a face-to-face setting,” stated professional wedding planner, Stephanie Forte.

Attending this one-stop-shop with the area’s best professionals is a must. Savvy Soiree representatives say this event is not just for current brides-to-be, but rather for anyone looking forward to that special day.

“There’s definitely something for everyone. We encourage all to join us, whether you’re attached or single or planning an anniversary, looking to renew your vows, or just collecting ideas for one day in the future,” said Forte.

The Savvy Soiree Wedding & Event Showcase will be held on Sunday, August 20, 2017 at the Florence Center located at 3300 W. Radio Dr. Florence, South Carolina. Admission is $5 in advance and $7 on the day of the showcase. Tickets can be purchased online at savvysoireesc.com or at the door.

To get the latest in showcase information, visit savvysoireesc.com.

Construction Update & Power Outage

Construction update & power outage: Unfortunately the venue power outage will last longer than originally anticipated. Our administrative and box offices will remain closed this evening and Wednesday, August 2nd. We will re-open Thursday, August 3 for normal operating hours. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please note our staff is checking emails regularly during this time and will continue to conduct business. However if you are seeking tickets for purchase, please visit Ticketmaster.com

4th Annual Independence CrossFit Games in Florence

(WBTW) – Over 500 athletes participated in the 4th annual independence games cross fit competition at the Florence center this weekend.
The event is said to be the largest indoor cross fit event in the Carolinas, athletes travel from all over the county to take part .The two day event included tested the skills of athletes, with tasks such as squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups.

Among those that showed up was cross fit couple Brandon and Jessica Phillips from Kennesaw, Georgia.

“We just came up here to do our best, see how well do and go from there,” said competitor Brandon Phillips.

Together Phillips’s own a cross fit gym in their hometown , they told News13 they take pride in training yearly together to get ready for events like this one.

“We can’t complete together mainly because we are really competitive, I always win that’s just how it works, and smart men know women always win,” said competitor Jessica Phillips.

Co-organizer of the event Del Boykin, keeps admission free, to continue to welcome new comers to event.

“It’s something different for a lot of people, this is something they’ve never seen or experienced before,” said Boykin. “We have people come see it, they take an interest, and they fall in love with Cross Fit, but otherwise they may have never had the experience.”

And organizers tell us there was about 28,00 dollars in cash prices given out to winners over the course of the weekend.

Florence Center expansion ahead of schedule

(WMBF) - The Florence Center is expanding its footprint for the first time since it was built in 1993.

$16 million Florence Center expansion ahead of schedule02:47

$16 million Florence Center expansion ahead of schedule
WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

The 60,000-square-foot venue is considered the largest convention, entertainment and exhibition facility in northeast South Carolina.

The new expansion is allowing Florence to recruit even more big-named conferences and conventions, bringing in more dollars to the Pee Dee. The progress and milestone of the expansion was celebrated during a construction topping-off ceremony held Thursday morning.

“So with the additional meeting space, now we are out there being a main player with Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Columbia and Greenville," said Paul Beard, the Florence Center's interim general manager. "So we can go out and compete with some of the major conferences they currently attract.”

Beard said Florence County's growth meant an expansion was due.

"There were so many conferences and conventions that came here and wanted to come to Florence because they liked the area, the atmosphere, the scenery, but we were missing breakout spaces," he said. "We had only three small breakout rooms and our ballroom.”

The Florence center can soon show off 10 breakout rooms, a junior and grand ballroom that fits nearly 2,000 people and a 10,000-seat arena. The facility is set apart because it can host conferences, conventions, trade shows, expos and sporting events.

Beard said the Florence center was losing a number of the conferences that surrounding cities were able to recruit. Soon, it can do the same.

"We have to remember what happened out here first. It’s given promise and hope for a lot of areas and there is an even greater impact of what’s yet to come with this expansion," said Mike Miller, president of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

The economic growth from the Interstate 20 and Interstate 95 corridor has also proven to be an impact on the entire area.

“It did all happen here and years ago, when the city and county voted to build this, it was four to three. That’s how close it came to not build this initially," said Buddy Brand, Florence mayor pro tem.

It's a risk that is clearly worth taking today. Brand noted that both councils unanimously agreed to the project, pointing to the partnership between the city and county of Florence that has grown stronger since the vision began 25 years ago.

“You know, one of those thoughts going around of people saying, 'Look at all those property tax dollars going to build the Florence center,' not one dime of property taxes is being used to build the $16 million expansion," said Kevin Yokim, Florence County's finance director. "It’s a 50/50 split - city, county. The county pays our half from hotel taxes, so you don’t fund this Florence center unless you stay at a hotel here in Florence.”

Yokim said the city of Florence will fund it with food and beverage taxes, and he said a lot of that comes from tourists.

The Florence center is still operating and hosting events as normal throughout the rest of the construction. The expansion is on schedule to open up its doors by early 2018.

Newsboys, Sidewalk Prophets and More Coming to Florence

Press Release
Premier Productions and Newsboys Announce All New BIG CHURCH NIGHT OUT TOUR This Fall; Strategic Partnership with Pandora Radio

Big Church Night Out Takes Over Pandora's Christian Contemporary Station July 5th-July 13th Public On Sale Friday, July 14th at 10am

Nashville, Tenn. (July 5, 2017) - Premier Productions and GRAMMY® nominated Newsboys announce the all new Big Church Night Out Tour. With nearly fifty shows across the U.S., each night will foster a time of worship, ministry and unity. Joining the tour will also be Sidewalk Prophets, 7eventh Time Down, Derek Minor, Blanca, Adam Agee from Audio Adrenaline, illusionist Brock Gill, worship leader Jamison Strain, and Jeremy Willet.

"When families, friends, and neighbors take time out of their busy lives to come together and join as one in worship, that is the church," says Newsboys Michael Tait. "That is the
makings of one BIG night, and we could not be more thrilled to be a part of it."

Powered by Pandora and CCM Magazine, the tour will offer a chance for rejuvenation in exchange for the chaos and business of everyday life. In anticipation for the tour, Big Church Night Out will be taking over Pandora's Christian Contemporary station from July 5th to July 13th offering a pre-sale to listeners as well as in-depth interviews from Newsboys front man, Michael Tait.

Kevin Sparkman, editor of CCM Magazine shares about the upcoming tour, “Go Big. Real big. A night-out that everyone needs!”

Hitting the East Coast, South and Midwest, the tour will begin in Montgomery, Alabama and make its final stop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The concept behind this Tour has been in the works for over three years," expresses Roy Morgan, owner of Premier Productions Inc. "Timing is everything, and the launch of Big Church Night Out this Fall will create a new Touring Brand in the marketplace for many years to come. Plus, it will be the first time that Pandora has provided its digital assets to
support a Christian Tour, along with the marketing efforts of our strategic radio partners and local churches.”

Big Church Night Out Tour
*All dates subject to change. More dates to be added.
9/21 Montgomery, AL
9/22 Chattanooga, TN
9/23 Raleigh, NC
9/24 Florence, SC
9/28 Topeka, KS
9/29 Tulsa, OK
9/30 Beaumont, TX
10/1 Hidalgo, TX
10/5 Colorado Springs, CO
10/6 Amarillo, TX
10/7 Wichita Falls, TX
10/8 Austin, TX
10/13 Kalamazoo, MI
10/14 Bloomington, IN
10/15 Champaign, IL
10/19 Corinth, MS
10/20 Atlanta, GA
10/21 Pikeville, KY
10/22 Highland Heights, KY
10/26 Monroe, LA
10/27 New Orleans, LA
10/28 Tallahassee, FL
10/29 Estero, FL
11/9 Augusta, ME
11/10 Danbury, CT
11/11 Amherst, MA
11/12 Erie, PA
11/16 Cleveland, OH
11/17 Toledo, OH
11/18 Rochester, NY
11/19 Utica, NY
11/30 Shreveport, LA
12/1 Springfield, MO
12/2 Cape Girardeau, MO
12/3 North Little Rock, AR
12/7 Owensboro, KY
12/8 Rockford, IL
12/10 Moline, IL
12/14 Johnstown, PA
12/15 Bethlehem, PA
12/16 Baltimore, MD
12/17 Charlotte, NC
*Artists may vary by date.

About Premier Productions: Pollstar Magazine ranks Premier Productions as the largest producer of live Christian events both nationally and internationally. Over 18 million people have attended a Premier event in over 4,000 concerts worldwide. Premier promotes Tours for Hillsong UNITED, Hillsong Worship, Young & Free, Kari Jobe, Jesus Culture, Lecrae, Lauren Daigle, Gaither Homecoming, Sadie Robertson, The Newsboys, comedian John Crist, Rend Collective, as well as their annual Winter Jam Tour Spectacular and OUTCRY
Tours. Premier Festivals promotes 10 of the largest Christian Festivals in the U.S, and over 80,000 Passengers have sailed with them through their Cruise Company.

Anthony Hamilton Brings Music & Comedy to Florence

Press Release
Renowned R&B singer-songwriter, Anthony Hamilton is set to take the stage in Florence on June 25 for an evening of music and laughs with Comedian, Kevin “Damn Fool” Simpson. Anthony Hamilton offers adults in the Pee Dee area a chance to enjoy an evening filled with emotionally-bursting lyrics and Grammy Award-winning music for one night only. The hilarious comedian Kevin “Damn Fool” Simpson will play host for the evening and provide quirky antics and outrageous comedy throughout the celebration.

Anthony Hamilton, a North Carolina native, grew up singing in churches beginning at age 10. Fans really began paying attention to Hamilton in 2002, when he sang the infectious hook on the Nappy Roots’ “Po’ Folks.” That performance netted the singer the first of 10 Grammy nominations for best rap/sung collaboration. Since then Anthony has been entertaining audiences all over the world with his rich voice and soul-steeped vocals. On February 24, 2016, Hamilton performed at the last "In Performance at the White House" hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle as part of a tribute to iconic singer Ray Charles. In March of 2016 he released his 9th studio album "What I'm Feelin," which he describes as an "emotional" cleanse reflecting on some of the hurdles he has faced.

“It’s been a few years since Anthony Hamilton has performed in Florence,” says Marketing Coordinator, Kaylen Snapp. “Fans had a fantastic time at his last concert. He puts on a great show and we are getting good responses for this upcoming show. We look forward to welcoming him back to the Pee Dee,” continues Snapp.

Expansion and Construction Update (June 2017)

The SMG-managed Florence Center broke ground back in January of 2017 for a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion to include 6 new meeting rooms, a large new pre-function area, outdoor terrace, new kitchen and beautiful renovations to existing spaces. For the past 6 months, crews have been hard at work demolishing existing structure, rerouting sewer tunnels, running new underground plumbing, laying foundation and plotting the expansion. Half a year later, visitors can now begin to envision the new space as guests can now see the exterior steel beams, cinder blocks shaped to outline meeting rooms, and concrete walkways marking new entrances.

“It’s been an incredible transformation so far, especially these last couple months. The first part of the year was mainly preliminary preparations, but now everyone is beginning to see the bigger picture,” said Nick Hooker, Director of Marketing at the Florence Center.

The final completion date for the overall project is slated for early spring of 2018. The expansion project was launched to ensure the Florence Center could aggressively compete in the associations and conference industry. “Although we keep a steady calendar of events, our lost business reports show an increasing need for breakout space. We simply could not accommodate a large number of simultaneous breakouts and thus we’re losing many of the larger meetings and multi-day conferences,” stated Hooker.

Efforts in Florence, SC seem to be paying off quickly for staff. The new meeting space, venue renovations, professional staff and central location off of I-95 & I-20, midway between NY and Miami, has meeting planners buzzing throughout the industry. Staff reports that meeting professionals have been booking personal on-site walk-thrus since past March and reserving event space for 2018, 2019 and beyond.



Have there been any challenges?

“There are many obstacles to an expansion that affect everyday business. There are parking issues, noise complaints, blackout dates, booking conflicts, logistic restrictions, etc. Simply getting guests to the appropriate entry point can prove very difficult. Guests are easily distracted by the heavy equipment and construction site, so they often won’t notice our event parkers or temporary wayfinding signs.”

Are you on track to open on time?

“Yes. We’re currently ahead of schedule just slightly. If we keep pace, we may finish a little earlier than projected. However summer is here, the rain has picked up, and we’re entering storm season so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

What’s Next for Staff?

“Booking, booking, booking. We’ll be focused on new business development. There will be an emphasis on booking the new space, but we’ll also continue to utilize the existing space and contract repeat business.”

What’s Next for the Venue?

“We already have a good grasp on the potential Phase 2 and Phase 3 of construction which could be feasible in a few years. Phase 2 would incorporate a very large expo hall, additional ballrooms, and possible hotel extension. Phase 3 would introduce a remodel and expansion to the current arena plus complement with new built-in arena bistros and bars. Of course these plans are not set and won't be happening anytime soon, but maybe one day down the road...”



CONSTRUCTION QUICK FACTS: As of June 1, 2017

Average Workers Per Day: 33

Number of Specialty Trades: 11

175 Safe Days to Date

3 First Aids to Date

1 Incident Report to Date

282 Days Remaining until Completion

25,000 sq. ft. new construction

28,000 sq. ft. renovated space

12,000 sq. ft. new lobby

6 New Meeting Rooms

1 New Kitchen

GM Kendall Wall Accepts New Position at SMG Mobile Alabama

After more than 15 successful years as Executive Director and General Manager for the SMG-managed Florence Center, Kendall Wall says farewell and accepts new position with affiliate venues.

Kendall Wall has announced his acceptance as the new General Manager for the Mobile Convention Center, Mobile Florence Center and Saenger Theater in Mobile, Alabama. The transition should be smooth for Wall as these three venues are also SMG-managed properties similar to Florence. Wall will continue working for SMG, the worldwide leader in entertainment and convention venue management, just in another zip code.

Florence venue board members emphasize the departure is on good terms and a positive move forward for all parties. Florence Mayor Pro Tempore Buddy Brand, who also serves on the Florence Center board of directors, said Wall has done an excellent job in reviving the facility and will do well at the larger convention center in Mobile. “Kendall really has brought back the activity and put it in the forefront of our community again,” Brand said. “Sixteen years is a long time and he’s done a lot for the Florence Center. He’s put together a great team and we’ll continue to move it forward.”

Over his career in Florence, Wall has increased venue revenue, directed a staff of over 25 full-time and 250 part-time or temporary employees, led a green initiative to reduce venue waste/electricity/costs, formed numerous community committees, spearheaded many community activities, coordinated a building expansion, and hosted thousands of events and many sold-out performances.

In a message from staff members, Nick Hooker, Director of Marketing for SMG-Florence said, “For the past 15 years you have been an incredible leader, exceptional motivator, and dear friend to us all. Most of us here would not be in the positions we are today without your guidance, aid and wisdom. We send you our greatest gratitude and appreciation.” Hooker later added, “We trust Mobile, Alabama understands and can appreciate the exceptional caliber man, leader, and professional they will inherit. We wish you the best of luck on your move, career, and new venue. We’ll keep an eye on the Mobile headlines for all the new success which is sure to come.”

Paul Beard, Jr., Assistant General Manager and Director of Sales for the Florence Center, will act as interim director.

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About SMG
SMG turns 40 in 2017! Celebrating its 40th anniversary and founded in 1977, SMG provides management services to 233 public assembly facilities including convention and exhibition centers, arenas, stadiums, theaters, performing arts centers, amphitheaters, equestrian facilities, science centers and a variety of other venues. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 15 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 1.5 million sports and entertainment seats. As the recognized global industry leader, SMG provides venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming, construction and design consulting, and pre-opening services for such landmark facilities as McCormick Place & Soldier Field in Chicago, Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Houston’s NRG Park and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. SMG also offers food and beverage operations through its concessions and catering companies, currently serving more than 140 accounts worldwide. For more information visit www.smgworld.com.

Da Make Me Dance Tour

Press Release
The Taylor Girlz, alongside 5 time platinum international recording artist Silento announced today, their summer 2017 tour entitled “Da Make Me Dance Tour” in support of promoting the tobacco free living and “ Get Off The Couch Challenge”. The 2017 tour kicks off on June 10th in Florence, South Carolina at The Florence Center. The tour will make its way throughout the United States during the summer and will be making a special stop in California for the BET® Awards. The Taylor Girlz ( Steal Her Man), Silento (Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae), Dlow ( Do it Like Me), iHeartMemphis ( Hit the Quan) and Zay Hilfigerrr ( JuJu on The Beat) will be the main support acts for the tour run.

Click HERE for the Florence SC lineup

The purpose of “Da Make Me Dance Tour: Summer Jam” is to engage this age group while also educating them on wellness, health and the importance of education. Our goal is for students to gain greater self-esteem, improved self-confidence and independence, new skills, socialization opportunities, new friendships, encourage them to get active and stay physically fit and just have plain fun.

Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased at the venue box office, Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Press Release Contributed by: P.L. Group and The Opulence Firm

Click HERE to visit the Florence SC Concert Page

Welcome Horseshoe Competitors, Family & Fans!

2017 & 2018 Horseshoe Tournaments
All of us here in Florence are looking forward to hosting the competitors and families for the 2017 Horseshoe Tour National Championship and the 2018 NHPA World Tour. We are excited to welcome each of you to our beloved city. We are here to make your stay enjoyable and the tournaments successful. Florence has a lot to offer and a lot to see. Come enjoy all the activities, attractions, shopping, dining, outdoor adventures, family activities and much more! Check out the links below to see what Florence has to offer!

On behalf of Florence, South Carolina and the Florence Center, we welcome you to our wonderful community overflowing with beauty, charm, and the finest southern hospitality. Our seasoned professionals take tremendous pride in making sure every event exceeds service and quality expectations. We look forward to introducing all competitors and families to our beautiful city, exciting attractions, and world-class venue. Thank you for considering Florence for your tournament destinations. -General Manager of the Florence Center

2017 Tournament Dates:
November 18 - 19
2017 Horseshoe Tour National Championship
Click here to register
Host Hotel: Courtyard Marriott

2018 Tournament Dates:
July 9 – 21
2018 NHPA World Tournament
Host Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn



Quick Links:

Directions
2017 Tournament Info Page
2017 Tournament Registration Form
2018 World Tournament Info Page
Contact the Venue
Plan Your Stay in Florence:

Area Hotels
Dinning Options
Outdoor Activities
Visitors Guide
Shopping
More Things To Do
Getting Here:

Venue Address & Directions
By Bus, Car, Plane, Train
Florence Regional Airport FLO (6 miles)
Myrtle Beach International Airport MYR (70 miles)
Columbia Metropolitan Airport CAE (85 miles)

Florence SC to Host 2017 National Horseshoe Tour AND 2018 World Tour

Venue expansion construction is now underway at the Florence Center and management continues to attract new bookings. Soon after announcing the expansion progress, venue officials recruited the 2018 NHPA (National Horseshoe Pitchers Association) World Tournament, sometimes referred to as the “Super Bowl of Horseshoes”. And the ringers don’t stop there; the venue has recently confirmed that Florence will now also host the 2017 Horseshoe Tour National Championship, another NHPA sanctioned tournament, this coming November.

The Horseshoe Tour National Championships scheduled for November 18-19, 2017 will be a full facility operation, with tournament play, concessions, player reception, welcome ceremony and meetings all being held on-site at the Florence Center. “This will not only be a ‘test run’ for our building and staff but for the Pee Dee area as we all get ready for the 2018 NHPA World Tournament” says Paul Beard, Assistant General Manager at the SMG-managed Florence Center. “Both of these events will help put Florence in the national spotlight for sports” continues Beard. Prior to this event the Florence Center staff will be constructing 16 NHPA sanctioned portable clay horseshoe courts inside the facility.

In a national announcement earlier this year, Bobby White, Horseshoe Tour President stated, “We’ve been patiently waiting for the last five years and it seems the heavens are finally lining up for us, as we’ve found a truly marvelous event that we can proudly call the ‘2017 Horseshoe Tour National Championships.’ The venue is the Florence Center in Florence, South Carolina, better known to us in the horseshoe world as the site of the upcoming 2018 NHPA World Horseshoe Championships.”

The 2017 championship tournament already has teams and individuals ready to register from all across the USA and Canada. In recent years, this sport has become a full-fledged family friendly event with competitors of all ages and skill levels. The many family friendly activities and accommodations in and around the Florence area is one of the many reasons why Florence was chosen as the site for both of these events. “There are endless hotels and restaurants in close proximity to the tournament site and that doesn’t even begin to describe the beauty of Florence and surrounding areas. There just couldn’t be a better host site than Florence. Not only is the facility as good as it gets, but the prize fund they’ve offered for this event is completely over the top. When you combine that with the huge entry we’re expecting, it should pay completely off the charts at all levels,” said the Horseshoe Tour President.

Nick Hooker, Director of Marketing for SMG Florence Center said, “Now we’ve just broken ground on the expansion and we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg…there’s so much potential here to attract regional and national events, we’re anxious to keep Florence growing.”

Florence - Full Life. Full Forward

The city of Florence has introduced its new brand "Florence — Full Life. Full Forward."

A beacon of progress, Florence is one of South Carolina’s most futureoriented communities. We are focused on being a model for growth and prosperity while ensuring a quality of life that is supported by exceptional education opportunities, superior healthcare services, and an enjoyable social environment. Progress, investment, and a strong sense of community define Florence—a place full of life.

Avant Marketing Group and MPA Strategies both aided the city with the rebranding. The groups formed a branding committee and met with council members, city staff, community leaders and hundreds of Florence residents to determine the perception of Florence and after much consideration a new brand was created.

The new logo will be featured throughout the city as the branding committee plans to introduce new directional and venue signs, lamp post and display banners, city vehicle decals, among others.

Class of 2017 Graduations Schedule

The Florence Center is delighted to acknowledge all graduates and we extend our hearty congratulations. We know you will take your work ethic into your career and future education plans and have great success. We send you each our best wishes.

Graduation Dates, Times, & Important Arrival Info

**Dear guests, please see arrival instructions & parking map prior to your visit. The venue is currently under construction; please pardon our mess as we improve for you. Thank you.


Florence-Darlington Technical College
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Rehearsal at 10:30am
Doors will open at 5pm
Graduation Ceremony at 6:30pm
Click HERE for important information & parking map


Florence School District One (Rehearsal Date Only)
Friday, June 2, 2017
Wilson High School – 8:30am
South Florence – 11am
West Florence – 2pm


Darlington High School
Friday, June 2, 2017
Rehearsal at 5pm
Doors will open at 7pm
Graduation Ceremony at 8pm
Click HERE for important information & parking map


Florence School District One
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Doors open 1 hour prior to Graduation Ceremony Times below:
Wilson High School – 8am
South Florence – 12pm
West Florence – 4pm
Click HERE for important information & parking map


Please Note: No backpacks or large purses will be permitted; only small handbags, clutch size preferred. For your safety, all guests are subject to pre-screening via walk-thru and/or hand-held metal detectors. No signs, noise makers, confetti, balloons, etc. are permitted inside. These measures help ensure all graduates and families are able to view and enjoy the ceremonies.

Florence goes full forward into 'Living the Brand'

STORY BY SCNOW.COM - The Avant Marketing Group conducted “Living the Brand” workshops Monday and Tuesday to drive home the message of the city of Florence’s new brand, "Full Life. Full Forward."

The two-hour workshops were held at the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Florence. During the workshops, Florence residents and business owners learned more about the city’s new branding and how to build brand awareness through community collaboration.

Mark Vogel, a senior partner with the Avant Marketing Group in St. Louis, led the “Living the Brand” workshops. He introduced the city’s brand platform and identity and explained the significance behind it all.

“’Full Life. Full Forward.’ That can mean a lot of things to a lot of people,” Vogel said. “We really define exactly what the purpose of those words are and why it should be promoted in the community.”

Vogel said another objective of the workshops is to get people not only to understand the brand but help promote it in the community and their respective businesses. Workshop attendees participated in various activities and group discussions to boost their relationship with the brand and ultimately become enthusiasts of the “Full Life. Full Forward.” motto.

“If you can get fanatics in your community, it’s the lowest cost in marketing and also supports the spirit as the essence of the brand,” Vogel said. “It will be totally unsuccessful and die if you don’t have the community that keeps it thriving and provides the energy behind it to promote it.”

Vogel said he was impressed with both the turnout and the excitement in the room during the two workshops. Not only were people relating themselves and their values to the brand, but they also were excited about incorporating Florence’s new identity into their own businesses.

Jennifer King, a marketing specialist with ArborOne Farm Credit, attended the workshop on Tuesday morning and said the presentation yielded a lot of valuable information about Florence’s new brand platform. She sees this change as yet another step in the right direction for the city.

“There’s no question that Florence is moving in the right direction,” King said. “As someone who is not a native and has lived here for almost 10 years, I’ve seen the city go nowhere but up.”

King recognized the power of community involvement when it comes to promoting the city’s new brand and said if the “Full Life. Full Forward.” message is going to be successful, the city and its residents have to work together to endorse it.

“It’s important that we literally sell ourselves,” King said. “If we don’t believe in the city, then, as the presenter said, why would anyone else want to come here?”

City of Florence unveils new brand, logo to the public

STORY BY SCNOW.COM - The city of Florence introduced its new brand "Florence — Full Life. Full Forward." to the public during a press conference Friday morning at the Waters Building downtown.

Council members, community leaders and others attended the brand launch event, which featured a performance by the Wilson High School marching band and the cheerleaders from Wilson, West Florence and South Florence high schools.

Tim Norwood, chairman of the Downtown Development Corporation, said the last time Florence created a new brand was 10 years ago. At that time, the branding wasn't readily publicized but Norwood said he wants this rebranding to be different.

"We're taking this into the community," Norwood said. "This is a cultural difference we're making."

Mayor Stephen Wukela described the brand as a "distillation of the spirit, the strength, the essence of this community."

"It's altogether an appropriate time for us to do this," Wukela said. "We have made incredible progress over just a few years and we want to celebrate those accomplishments and look into the future. Our brand speaks to that progress."

Not only does the brand speak to the vast strides the city has made in recent past, but Wukela said it also captures the nature of the Florence population as kind, hardworking people who live enriched lives in the Florence area.

"There is a richness of life in this community that I think rivals any other," Wukela said. "The progress and success that we are having and that we continue to have and the richness and fullness of life that is experienced here. 'Full Life. Full Forward.' encapsulates that."

Avant Marketing Group and MPA Strategies both aided the city with the rebranding. The groups formed a branding committee and met with council members, city staff, community leaders and hundreds of Florence residents to determine the perception of Florence and after much consideration a new brand was created.

The new logo will be featured throughout the city as the branding committee plans to introduce new directional and venue signs, lamp post and display banners, city vehicle decals, among others.

To further introduce the new brand to local residents, the city of Florence organized a brand launch block party held at 6 p.m. in downtown Florence. The street festival included performances by The Holiday Band, which played a mix of old and new hits plus a special song written specifically for the city of Florence and its new brand.

Food and drink vendors lined South Dargan Street as hundreds of Florence residents came to enjoy the street festival. White T-shirts printed with the new logo and tag line were distributed during the block party so the community could get its first look at the brand.

Florence resident Joan Billheimer was among the first to get her T-shirt and she said she is both happy and excited about Florence’s rebranding.

“I love it,” Billheimer said. “It’s simple. Downtown is coming to life and we’re moving forward.”

Paul MacDonald, another longtime Florence resident, said this rebranding comes at an appropriate time for the city as downtown Florence has seen many improvements in recent years and is moving Florence in a positive direction.

“I like what they’re doing with the new logo. It’s a fresh look on what we hope to be a great future for the city,” MacDonald said. “We’re pretty excited about the future and it’s nice to see considering how far we’ve had to come.”

“If enough people see it, they’ll see what a great job we’re doing and where we’re going.”

State of the city and county address held in Florence

STORY BY WMBF NEWS - The city and county of Florence are working together to make sure the community knows where its future lies.

A State of the City and County Address was held at the Florence Center on Thursday. The annual outlook luncheon is hosted by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

The featured speaker for the city was Mayor Stephen Wukela, while Kent Caudle, chairman of Florence County Council, represented the county.

Both men spoke on the public and private partnerships the city and the county have.

Hundreds of the major business leaders and elected officials listened as Wukela and Caudle talked about the past of the city and county and where both are heading.

“In the last 10 years, two 1-cent sales tax that run concurrently has pumped over $600 million in our local economy, and we did it all without raising property tax a dime, not one penny," Caudle said.

Wukela believes Florence is in a true renaissance. Since the mayor's declaration in 2013, he said over $150 million in public, private, and non-profit investment has been poured into the city.

"We have a new sense of self, and rightly so, and of self-respect, as we should,” Wukela said. “Our renaissance folks was not by accident, it was not by chance or luck. It wasn’t a gift from outside, it is man-made. We just decided to do it."

Kyle Baxter, chief operating officer for Carolinas Hospital System said local and state officials are working together to promote the development of infrastructure around the region.

“I have never seen it before coming from another state,” Baxter said.

Baxter said the Carolinas Hospital System is a top 10 employer for healthcare alone in the region and that it’s important to see the county and city officials educate the workforce.

"We have a relationship with Mayo Clinic and were one of 40 in the nation to have that relationship and the only (one) in South Carolina," Baxter said.

Carolinas Hospital System wants to support business growth and see Florence continue to be a regional draw. Baxter said he’s seen investment spiraling all over and he heard the commitment to continue from both Wukela and Caudle.

Wukela wanted everyone in the room to know it was finally time for people to start noticing change in the city. According to Caudle, it’s the county’s goal to stay progressive. He noted that anywhere people look, they will see construction on a new project happening.

Both Wukela and Caudle said they don’t plan on stopping the renaissance and the flourishment going on right now.

Council chairman says Florence County ‘flourishing in every aspect’

STORY BY SCNOW.COM – “Florence County: your county, my county, our county is in wonderful shape, physically and financially.”

County Council Chairman Kent Caudle told hundreds of Florence business leaders and government officials gathered for the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce’s annual outlook luncheon on Thursday that this county is seeing more progress now than ever.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never been more excited about what’s going on than I am now,” Caudle said. “Our economic development, our transportation and infrastructure improvements, and our quality of life and safety investments are all heading the right direction.”

Caudle homed in on multimillion-dollar projects in the county, such as the $16 million spent by the city and county to expand the Florence center and the $32 million judicial center near downtown, which are under construction.

He coupled that with the major infrastructure projects realized under both penny sales taxes, including hundreds of miles of local road repairs and a six-acre lake finally being dug in Lake City.

The county’s unified fire district expanded even more in 2016, reaching its goal of having a fire station or substation within five miles of every home in Florence County and upgrading outdated equipment.

“We have over 400 volunteer firefighters in our county and this gives them the proper tools they need to safely perform their task to save lives and property,” he said. “It has also led to lower insurance rates in some area and will lead to more savings in others.”

Caudle also praised the public-private partnership that drives economic and social growth.

“We’ve gone through some rough times lately but we’re on the cusp of unheralded success,” Caudle said. “Florence is sounding its trumpet as a business and community mecca, not only in South Carolina but in the entire Southeast region,” he said.

Caudle said the momentum here is unparalleled and he doesn’t foresee an end anytime soon.

“I always say we don’t want to give any person or business any reason to turn down Florence,” he said.

SMG Turns 40!

SMG, the worldwide leader in entertainment and convention management, who manages our very own Florence Center along with more than 230 other facilities in 5 countries, celebrates its 40th anniversary!

Congratulations SMG to 40 incredible years! -Florence Center

West Conshohocken, PA (March 30, 2017) - 2017 marks the 40th Anniversary for facility management leader, SMG. What began in 1977 with their first account, The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, an account that is still proudly managed by SMG today, has grown to more than 230 facilities in 5 countries.

Kyle France, Chairman of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, SMG’s longest standing client had this to say about SMG, “SMG has been an outstanding partner to the LSED since the inception of our relationship. SMG has delivered on its value promise to the State of Louisiana and is a big reason the Mercedes-Benz Superdome has been so successful in generating such an impact for New Orleans and the surrounding region. On behalf of the LSED, we congratulate SMG on 40 great years of service and this significant point in its history.”

“Long standing partnerships such as the one SMG enjoys with the Mercedes-Benz Superdome are the result of the dedicated work and stewardship provided by our employees to our clients. Throughout this year SMG will be marking this milestone. SMG has enjoyed a remarkable client retention rate of 93% by focusing our passion and energy into getting the best results for our clients. We’re extraordinarily proud of the company’s growth and success and look forward to an exciting future,” said SMG President and CEO, Wes Westley.

Pace to quicken on Florence Center expansion

FLORENCE, S.C. – Officials involved with planning of the $16 million expansion of the Florence Center took a look at nearly finished design plans of the project on Friday afternoon.

Ground preparation is almost complete, and foundation and concrete pouring isn’t far off.

Click HERE to view full photo gallery

John Miller, construction manager for Thompson-Turner, the group heading construction of the expansion project, said construction will begin to move at a more rapid pace in the coming month.

“We’re working to get basically all of the structural materials of the building here between the second week of March and first week of April,” he said. “We’ll, hopefully, get that erected by the third week of April. Then we’re looking at roofing and shooting for dry-ins by the end of May or first of June to start interior work.”

Miller said it’s an optimistic plan that’s subject to delay, but Florence Center officials are excited about the prospect of quick construction.

“It is a very aggressive schedule but we feel good about it,” said C.B. Askins Jr., chairman of the Florence Center Commission. “If you don’t push it on the front end, you won’t have it completed on the back end like you want. The changes are good and we know it’s going to look good. We’re excited about it.”

The expansion will add 28,000 square feet to the Florence center—which includes 8,000 square feet of subdividable space, 5,000 square feet of new kitchen space and 12,000 square feet of lobby and meeting room space.

A new paint job and color scheme are on the way as well.

Florence Center General Manager Kendall Wall said that with plans nearly final, the public can expect to see real progress soon.

“We’ve gone through several revisions with the architect and the construction manager, both, and I think we’ve found a look that’s professional but fits in with our community as well,” he said. “We’re happy with the color scheme and the layout. Now we’ll start to see more of the physical aspects of construction.”

Officials said the tentative open date for the expansion is January 2018.

The Circus is Coming to Town! Mar.12

GARDEN BROTHERS CIRCUS celebrates 100 years entertaining families throughout North America and “we are bringing an all new, fast paced; totally exciting show to town!” See Elephants live! ‘Motorcycle Madness’ has motorcycle daredevils somersaulting and spinning in a big Globe of Doom; Chinese Acrobats, the Human Slingshot, Camels-Llamas-Horses-Buffalo performing together for the first time, crazy comedy with Circus Clowns, daring aerialists; cirque artists. Its 1½ hours of excitement and fun at GARDEN BROTHERS CIRCUS.

GARDEN BROTHERS CIRCUS gives their audience the best circus at the best prices.

Free children’s tickets have been distributed at all elementary schools, pre-schools, day care centers and churches. The Free Tickets are also available at sponsoring businesses in the area.

First one hundred adult tickets sold online are only $9.95 at www.GardenBrosCircus.com

GARDEN BROTHERS CIRCUS is a production of ICE CAPADES producers and plays mostly 1 or 2 days in each city and travels throughout North America.

Watch for a new twist with the old time Circus posters when our Circus Street Team Parade comes to town prior to the circus.

Show Date: March 12, 2017
Show Times: 1:00pm, 3:30pm, & 6:00pm

Florence Center will Implement Additional Security Enhancements

Beginning February 1, 2017, Florence Center will implement additional security measures at all ticketed events. These new enhancements will include walk-through metal detectors and/or hand-held security wands at every arena entrance and size restrictions on all bags brought into the building by patrons. To accommodate the additional time needed for the new security procedures, doors will be opened 90 minutes prior to most events and fans are encouraged to arrive early to allow extra time for entry.

Bags no larger than 13” x 15” x 6’’ will be permitted inside the venue. Guests who have bags larger than this size will be asked to return them to their vehicles or discard them. This is in addition to the existing policy that all bags, purses or personal items of any size are subject to search. An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection. Florence Center is unable to store over-sized or prohibited items.

These enhanced security procedures are becoming commonplace in the arena and live events industry. Besides Florence Center, concert goers and live event attendees nationwide can expect to see additional security measures in the near future.

“The safety of each guest who enters the Florence Center is our top priority,” said the venue’s Assistant General Manager and Director of Events, Paul Beard. “These procedures are just one part of our larger security planning efforts that we’re undertaking for the new year to enhance the safety of our fans and our employees.”

Florence Center respects the privacy of its guests and the enhanced security measures will only be used to prevent hazardous and prohibited items from entering the venue.

For more information, please visit our Visitors Guide A-Z or contact info@florencecenter.com

Event Announcement: The Comedy Get Down

Just Announced: The Comedy Get Down featuring Cedric The Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, George Lopez, Eddie Griffin & Charlie Murphy - coming to Florence Center on Saturday, March 25th at 8:00pm.

Numerous motion picture appearances, countless television shows, sitcoms and standup specials, a talk show, three radio shows, and two books. Cedric ‘The Entertainer’, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley, George Lopez and Charlie Murphy have been breaking ground in the comedy business and bringing the laughs for decades. This is a once in a lifetime chance to see five members of comedy royalty come together for the comedy event of the year ‘The Comedy Get Down’ is on Saturday, March 25 at Florence Center at 8:00pm. Tickets on sale Friday, February 3 at 10am.

Cedric "The Entertainer" is best known for crowd-pleasing performances in hit films such as Barbershop, Be Cool, The Original Kings of Comedy, and the top-ranking Madagascar animated franchise, just to name a few. He is executive producer and stars in the current hit comedy series THE SOUL MAN on TV Land. Cedric also stars in the buzzed about new reality series, CEDRIC'S BARBER BATTLE, which debuted on THE CW on June 29th.

Eddie Griffin has received worldwide recognition through his numerous stand-up comedy specials, movies, television appearances, music and comedy albums for not only acting, but writing and producing as well. Most notably, Def Comedy Jam, HBO One Night Stand, Malcolm & Eddie for which he won the NAACP Image Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series award, Undercover Brother, My Baby's Daddy, Dysfunktional Family, Norbit, Freedom Of Speech, A Fool And His Money play, You Can Tell Em' I Said It and soon to be released Mucho Dinero and An American Hero. Comedy Central also honored Eddie as one of the Top 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of all time.

D.L. Hughley, star of his namesake TV show that ran on ABC The Hughleys, is also well known as one of the standout comedians on the hit comedy tour and docu-film The Original Kings of Comedy. DL can currently be heard nationwide as host of his own nationally syndicated afternoon radio show “The DL Hughley Show”. Known for being astute and politically savvy in true comedian style, Hughley is a published author; and was honored with a prestigious Peabody Award for his satirical documentary special DL Hughley: The Endangered List. He appeared in the TV drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and was recently cast in the upcoming NBC drama Heart Matters. He is currently starring in his ninth stand-up comedy special Clear.

George Lopez is a multi-talented entertainer whose career encompasses television, film, standup comedy and late-night television. For two seasons, Lopez hosted Lopez Tonight, a late-night television talk show on TBS, Television’s groundbreaking hit sitcom George Lopez, which ran for six seasons on ABC. Lopez has risen to become one of the premier comedic talents in the entertainment industry and known for his extensive charity work with various foundations.

Charlie Murphy became a household name as a cast member of "Chappelles Show" when he recanted his True Hollywood Stories of celebrity and excess, however he has spent the past two decades solidifying his position in Hollywood as a true acting and writing talent. He’s appeared in Lottery Ticket with Bow Wow and Ice Cube, Our Family Wedding with Forrest Whitaker and The Perfect Holiday w/ Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard. Charlie wrote cult classics like Vampire In Brooklyn and Norbit, and stars as ‘Vic’ in Adult Swim’s “Black Jesus”, currently in production on Season 2.

Ice Skating Season A Success & Proceeds Help Local Kids

Although Pee Dee winter weather has been mild, ice still made a huge impact in Florence. The SMG-managed Florence Center had a tremendous turnout for the 2016-2017 ice skating season. Expecting a high demand, the venue increased to more than 70 two-hour sessions for public ice skating, and it’s a good thing they did.

The ice rink at the Florence Center hosted nearly 12,000 skaters over the season, which ended on January 2nd to prepare for various arena events. “We had sold-out every session but two in 2015, so we had a feeling the public would respond well. And wow they certainly did, 2016 was a major success,” said Nick Hooker, Director of Marketing for SMG Florence Center. “We had guests from Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Pageland, and all over. I chatted with a couple who drove from Wilmington, NC to ice skate for the first time,” Hooker continues. The attendance is not only beneficial for the venue itself, but large numbers of outside visitors crowding into Florence help generate an economic boost for the area and local businesses.

As part of an ongoing community support initiative, the venue announced a portion of proceeds from public skate admissions would go towards assisting the SNAC program. SNAC, short for Shelter and Nutrition for All Children, is a non-profit organization working to decrease the number of homeless, indigent and hungry children in Florence. This year the venue was able to raise and donate over $11,800 to aid the program. “Our community and its residents are vital to our success. It’s critical to us that the venue works closely with organizations throughout the Pee Dee and assists whenever feasible,” said Nick Hooker.

The Florence Center has confirmed the ice rink will be back in 2017 for another year. Public ice skating sessions are slated to open in December 2017 with sessions throughout the month and into January 2018. Ice skate dates are expected to be announced later this fall.

Florence Center begins expansion construction

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Construction at the Florence Center began earlier this week. Saturday, News13 got an inside look at why the center needs to expand. The entertainment arena will add six meeting rooms, a lobby and kitchen. Right now the building does not have enough conference rooms to accommodate multiple conferences.

Florence Center General Manager Kendall Wall says the center will extend the back of the building. Extending the building will take away 200 parking spots but serve more associations or conventions when they need conference space.

More conference rooms will bring more stability and greater economic impact.

“These types of events are usually two to four days. As people are coming into town, they are staying in hotel rooms, eating in restaurants, going to the mall, etc. The economic impacts of these rooms are tremendous on the community,” Wall explained.

The expansion project will cost 16 million dollars, split by Florence County and the City of Florence. The Manager says they hope to have the project complete by early 2018.

DNT TXT N DRV

Stay Alive! Initiative & Pledge
South Carolina Highway Patrol has partnered with Monster Jam and the Florence Center in efforts to help keep teens safe while on the road. The DNT TXT N DRV initiative is designed to help educate drivers on the real hazards of texting while driving and aims to save lives right here in the Florence area through a text-free driving pledge.

Did you know that if you text and drive, you’re 23 times more likely to have a car crash? Or that cell phones are involved in 1.6 million auto crashes each year that cause a half million injuries and take 6,000 lives? These real statistics are real scary.

So take the pledge declaring that YOU will not text and drive ….and maybe save a life.

Officers from the SC Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol will be visiting various high school campuses in the Pee Dee next week to discuss today’s issues related to cell phone use and vehicle accidents. “The average text message takes approximately five seconds from start to send. If you are driving at highway speeds this translates to traveling the entire length of a football field without looking at the road,” states Corporal Sonny Collins of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. “The truth is a lot of error and devastation can happen in this short time and unfortunately we’ve seen the results firsthand,” continues Collins.

Students will have the opportunity to take the safety pledge and sign their name on the giant Monster Jam pledge banner. The banner is scheduled to be hung on display at the Florence Center following the pledge week.

Monster Jam will be offering a $5.00-off coupon to all students making the pledge and signing the banner. Highway Patrol Officers will be handing out coupons during the school visit. This pledge is not just for students however; all adults, teens, and children are invited to receive a $5.00-off Monster Jam event coupon by visiting the Florence Center Box Office and signing a pledge form. Simply stop by the box office during business hours the week of January 23-27 to sign the text-free driving pledge.

All participants will receive a $5.00-off coupon to attend the Monster Jam performances at the Florence Center coming February 3-4, 2017. The discount is valid on all 3 performance times: Friday, February 3rd at 7pm or Saturday, February 4th at 1pm and 7pm.

This initiative is brought to you by South Carolina Highway Patrol, the Florence Center, and Monster Jam. Find out more about the DNT TXT N DRV pledge and the Monster Jam event at florencecenter.com.



DNT TXT N DRV
Public Pledge Location: Florence Center Box Office, 3300 West Radio Drive, Florence SC 29501
Public Pledge Times: Monday January 23rd through Friday, January 27th during box office hours 10am-5:30pm

Coupon redeemable at the box office. Valid on all Monster Jam performance times; valid on select seating, see box office for details.

Taste of Florence 2017 Cancels

For Immediate Release: 1/10/17

It is with mixed emotions that I regret to inform you that we have made the decision to cancel the Taste of Florence.

This decision was not made without much prayer, discussion and deliberation among myself, the Board and the Administration. It was a hard one and an emotional one. This event has always depended upon the support of the restaurants, and we just have too few commitments to move forward. Some owners shared that they were too short staffed, in the middle of renovation projects, and some have simply moved on with new and fresh ideas. This is all positive for our community but not necessarily for the future of the TOF. Nevertheless their reasons are not due to any dissatisfaction with regards to the event, so please continue to support these great establishments!

The past five years have produced over $160,000 in profits, which were donated to The King's Academy's Annual Fund, a 4K-12th grade non-profit Christian school. The TOF founding members are passionate about this ministry and the planning committees that have served since continue to support it.

It has given us opportunities to cultivate friendships with local and area business owners and given us a platform to share the mission of TKA. Thank you for being part of this movement!! We are humbled by your support of this event and your willingness to Savor Tuesday's Flavor with us. We live in a great community!

Blessings in the New Year,
The Taste of Florence Planning Committee

(Press Release Submitted By: Taste of Florence Planning Committee)

Box Office Closed Saturday (1/7/16) Due to Icy Conditions

The Florence Center Box Office will be closed Saturday (1-7-16) due to potential icy conditions and the current winter weather advisory. We will reopen on Monday for normal operating hours - Administrative Office 8:30am-5:30pm & Box Office 10:00am-5:30pm.

See additional area closings, cancellations and reschedulings at scnow.com

Florence Center Honored with 2 National Awards for 2016

The SMG-managed Florence Center ends 2016 with two major awards. The Florence Center has again been awarded the prestigious Prime Site Award by Facilities Media Group of New York and also ConventionSouth Magazine’s 2016 Annual Readers’ Choice Award.

The Facilities Prime Site Award is given to the top entertainment, sports and special event venues including Arenas, Florence Centers, Coliseums, Auditoriums, Stadiums, Theaters, PACs, Amphitheaters, University Venues, Fairgrounds and Special Event Venues. The honor is voted on by booking agents, promoters, talent buyers and key industry members. A message from Facilities Media Group states “Florence has won every year since this award’s inception for a record-breaking 20 consecutive years.”

The venue has achieved additional acclaimed industry credit by receiving the 2016 ConventionSouth Readers’ Choice Award. ConventionSouth, a national meeting planner’s resource publication and website, recently released their list of preferred venues and awarded Florence Center as a top stop. “ConventionSouth readers and fans have voted to decide the best meeting sites in the South, and it is no surprise to us that Florence Center has been selected to receive our annual Readers’ Choice Award,” said Publisher J. Talty O’Connor. “The value in receiving this prestigious recognition is that it comes from the United States’ top meeting professionals who hold events in the South. These planners demand the highest level of customer service and quality facilities, and they have contributed in determining that Florence Center indeed displays the commitment to professionalism, creativity and service that they require.”

“We have all worked hard this year and it’s a great feeling to see that hard work paying off. We would like to thank the meeting planners, promoters and our fans for voting for us,” says Kendall Wall, General Manager of the Florence Center. “That doesn’t mean that the Florence Center will slow down in 2017, with the upcoming expansion scheduled to break ground in early January, things will only get busier and we will continue to look for new ways to attract people to Florence,” continues Wall.

2017 S.C. AgriBiz & Farm Expo hopes to draw thousands to Florence center

SCNOW.COM - Jody Martin is getting excited about the fifth annual S.C. AgriBiz & Farm Expo.

Scheduled for Jan. 11-12 at the Florence Center, this year’s expo brings back some favorites and adds a few new items. Last year’s expo attracted about 2,000 people, said Jody Martin, the event’s executive director. This year he’d like to double the number of attendees. Title sponsors are ArborOne Farm Credit, John Deere, The Scoular Company and the S.C. Farm Bureau. Also heavily involved in the expo are Clemson University’s Extension Service and the S.C. Department of Agriculture. Daily admission is $5.

“We just want folks to know there’s something for everyone,” said Martin, who is also the executive director of the Pee Dee Food Hub. “We’re bringing back the Food Truck Rodeo so folks on their lunch break can come out and don’t even have to go inside to enjoy some of the best food trucks available. And Wednesday night will be the ever popular Taste of South Carolina, which is the inaugural event for the recently selected Chef Ambassadors. It’s the first time they’ll be all together.”

Once the expo gets underway at 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11, a Future Farmers of America Farm Safety and Tractor contest will take place in the parking lot and last until 5 p.m.

“This event usually happens at the fair but we’ll have an area of the parking lot set up and they’ll get judged on safety and accuracy,” Martin said.

There are three main components to the expo – education, connections and innovation. Wednesday’s schedule is full of programs aimed at providing information to small farmers as well as those in the commercial realm. The small-farmer symposium goes from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. Topics of the day will include “Organic Production and Soil Health,” presented by Dr. Brian Ward of Clemson, as well as several small-farming success stories addressing farm operations, marketing and selling to hubs and restaurants, agritourism and more. There will also be sessions devoted to the basics of small farming’s business aspects, attracting and maintaining long-term customers and more. Commercial agricultural sessions on Wednesday will look at several areas such as marketing crops and cattle in current economic conditions, spray technologies to save money and increase efficiency and soil health and cover crops.

Wednesday night’s Taste of South Carolina event is $25 and brings together William Cribbs of Cribbs Kitchen in Spartanburg, Amy Fortes of Flipside Café in Fort Mill, Adam Kirby of Bistro 217 in Pawleys Island and Sean Mendes of Roadside Seafood in Charleston.

Thursday events will start at 8 a.m. with the Commissioner’s Breakfast, a fundraiser to benefit the S.C. Commissioner’s School for Agriculture. The small-farmer symposium will focus on vegetable production on Thursday, and the day’s big draw is an hour-long presentation on “Understanding Food Safety Modernization Act on all farms.” Presenters are Drs. Julie Northcutt and Scott Whiteside of Clemson University and Derek Underwood from the S.C. Department of Agriculture.

Commercial ag sessions on the second day will look at rethinking in-season fertilizer recommendations for hay production and using cost effective development and utilization of management zones, among others. Martin said all told, about 130 vendors have signed up for the expo.

“What farmers get if they come to the expo is education, connections with the who’s who of agribusiness and the latest and greatest updates as they relate to the innovation component,” he said. “It’s all of the new technology that’s on the cutting edge in agriculture.”

For more information, visit SCAgriBizExpo.com.

STORY BY: JOE PERRY Morning News
PHOTO BY: JOE PERRY Morning News "Thomas Jeffords of Florence drives his 1936 John Deere tractor into the Florence Center as the 2016 AgriBiz & Farm Expo was getting started"

Visit scnow.com for original story and source

Music And Ice And Everything Nice

A Children's Charity Event
December 21 & 22

Donate & Skate For FREE!
Join us on December 21 & 22 for live music, ice skating and fundraising! Donate these select canned good items to assist HELP 4 KIDS and ice skate for free! Plus enjoy live music while you skate. Donations collected will help 'Pack A Bag' for kids and feed hungry children. Your support is needed!

December 21 & 22
6:00pm - 8:00pm
Florence Center
Wednesday: Saxophone & Santa w/ Don Colton
Thursday: Magnolia Sky Band

Only these select food items will be accepted:
Vienna Sausages 4.6 oz
Beanie Weenies 7.75 oz
Chef Boyardee (any variety) 7.5 oz

Donate goods equal to ice skate admission -or- monetary donations will be used to purchase these items. Admission: Kids 12 & under $6, Adults $8, Skate Rental $3, more info call 843.679.9417

This event is open to everyone! We need your support!

Learn more about SNAC & Help 4 Kids.

ALL Rodeo Tickets Just $10

Need a stocking stuffer? For a limited time, all tickets to the Florence Stampede & Pro Rodeo are just $10! Valid on all seats! But hurry, this holiday discount won’t last long. No code word needed, buy at the box office or online at http://bit.ly/Rodeo_Tix17 Rodeo event details at http://bit.ly/FCC_Rodeo17 -additional fees may apply

Jerry Springer to host The Price is Right Live

The Price is Right Live! is thrilled to have Jerry Springer hosting the gameshow in Florence SC on March 23rd

Throughout an illustrious career, Jerry Springer has become a cultural and Florence icon. In addition to host of The Jerry Springer Show, now in it's 26th season, he has been the mayor of Cincinnati, political pundit, lawyer, award-winning newscaster, country recording artist, and international emcee and TV personality. He has been in movies and on Broadway, he's a progressive talk-radio broadcaster and Springer also won America's heart with his ballroom dancing on Dancing With The Stars.

Breaking News: We’ve just confirmed our Guest Host for The Price Is Right Live gameshow in Florence! Get ready for the one and only…. Jerry Springer! That’s right, Jerry Springer will host The Price is Right Live right here in Florence SC on March 23rd. Our celebrity guest host Jerry Springer will be asking participants in the audience to “Come on Down” for the chance to win!

Annual Toy Run Parade Helps Pee Dee Children

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – More than 100 motorcyclists braved the rainy weather to raise money and donate toys to children in the Pee Dee.

The bikers met at the Florence Center for the 33rd Annual Toy Run Parade hosted by the Florence Lion’s Club and Black Jack Harley-Davidson.

Click HERE for Video

One cyclist drove all the way from Atlanta Georgia for the run. This makes his 31st ride for children in the Pee Dee.
Bill Frank Taker said, “I was raised in the area and a lot of people did things for me. It’s me giving back to the community.”

“You can’t put a price on a child’s smile. You can’t put a price on giving. All you can do is give from the heart,” Taker adds.

Each rider in the parade paid $20 or bought a toy to donate.
All of the proceeds and toys will go to children in the Pee Dee area.

Ice rink coming to Florence Center

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Ice skating is back for another year at the Florence Center, and the rink opens Saturday. There are more than 70 two-hour sessions to choose from.

Admission is $6 for kids and $8 for adults. Tickets are sold on a first-come-first-serve basis and people can bring their own skates, or rent skates at the Florence Center for $3. Concession food and drinks will also be sold. There are group specials you can schedule along with private skate sessions available.

This year’s theme is a Winter Wonderland. Nick Hooker, Director of Marketing at the Florence Center, said employees were nervous about how the community would respond last year, being the first year back for public skate after four years. But after seeing so much traffic, Hooker said it's well worth the return. The rink is also offering several more child-sized skate buddies this year, and also improving lines to get skaters out quicker.

“We did take a few years off before 2015, last year was our first year having ice skating back for the public and wow, tremendous support, tons of people came out. We actually sold out every session except for two, so this year we are doing more planning and we added quite a few more sessions.”

The first project though is to get the dasher boards out and build the rink. Brandon McAllister the Production and Facilities Manager for the Florence Center said he and his crews will work around the clock to build the ice rink until opening day. “So we’ll get the floor down to probably 19 degrees to create an inch and a half thick sheet of ice and using 15,000 gallons of water," McAllister said.

Their homemade ice cart used to make the ice brings a ten-man job down to one, he explained. “We used to stretch out two hundred feet of an inch and a half water hose and it had a sprayer wand at the end and we walked back and forth back and forth all the way down the ice rink, where now with the ice cart, one man drives. The tank holds 300 gallons and you just ride around until the water runs out.”

McAllsiter enjoys it because he said his crews don’t get to make the rink often, and said it's well worth the work. “When the community supports what you are doing, it makes everything better, it makes it a lot easier.”

An ice rink in Florence truly sets the city apart from others, Hooker said. “So we do get to pull quite a lot of people from the surrounding areas, even as far as Lumberton, Fayetteville places like that, they’ll sneak down here for an ice skate or two.”

The skating is for a good cause, as well. Proceeds from this year are going to the SNAC program which is Shelter and Nutrition for All Children, as well as Help for Kids in Florence. "So we’re excited to help the community raise some funds for some nonprofit organizations, and have a good time doing it," said Hooker.

Click here for the full schedule of date and times of sessions.

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

Story by Audrey Biesk, Reporter WMBF News

The Price is Right Live™ is coming to Florence

The Florence Center will play host to The Price is Right Live™ stage show on Thursday, March 23 at 7:30pm

Tickets will go on sale Friday, December, 9 at 10am at the Florence Center Box Office, online at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.*

The Price Is Right Live™ is the hit interactive stage show that gives eligible individuals the chance to "Come On Down" and play classic games from television's longest running and most popular game show. Contestants can win cash, appliances, vacations and possibly even a new car by playing favorites like Plinko™, Cliffhangers™, The Big Wheel™, and the fabulous Showcase.

Playing to near sold out audiences for more than ten years, The Price Is Right Live™ has given away over 12 million dollars in cash and prizes to lucky audience members all across North America.

The Price is Right™ is the longest running game show in television history and loved by generations of viewers This on-stage travelling version gives fans the chance to experience the same fun and winning excitement up close and in-person.

The Price Is Right is produced by FremantleMedia North America and licensed by FremantleMedia.


EVENT: The Price is Right Live!
DATE/TIME: Thursday, March 23
VENUE: Florence Center
TICKETS ON SALE: December 9th at 10am

Click HERE to visit the event page for more info & show details

*Additional purchase not required for contestant registration. Open to legal US residents, 18 years or older. Ticket purchase will not increase your chances of being selected to play. For complete rules & regulations, including eligibility requirements, visit or call the venue box office. To enter theater to watch show, a ticket purchase is required.

Ice Skating Returns for Winter 2016

When ice skating had once again returned to the Florence Center in 2015 after taking a 4-year hiatus, the venue wasn’t quite expecting the tremendous reaction it received. In less than two weeks after opening the ice to the public, staff members announced a slew of additional ice skate times to accommodate the hefty demand. After more than 35 ice skating sessions, all but 2 had sold out, completely maxing capacity for the rink.

“We weren’t exactly sure how the community would respond since several years had passed from the last time ice skating was an option for us,” states Nick Hooker, Director of Marketing at the Florence, Center. “and then bam!....we had so much traffic, we had to double the amount of ice skating sessions. People really enjoyed themselves last year and we’re hoping for another great turnout for 2016.”

The Florence Center is excited to see a similar response this winter and has released its seasonal ice skating calendar. The ice rink will open to the public on December 3rd with sessions available throughout the month and up to January 2nd. Public ice skating sessions are each 2-hours long and cost $8.00 for adults or $6.00 for children 12 years and under. You may bring your own ice skates, or rent a pair for $3.00 from the venue. Private ice sessions are available for groups, churches, schools, organizations, and birthday parties on select dates.

After such a remarkable response last year, the venue has made a few adjustments to better serve the community. “We’re taking steps to assist long lines and help get skaters on the ice quicker. We have also ordered several more child-sized ‘skate buddies’ (gliding frames which offer support on the ice) so we’ll have a few more to offer,” states Paul Beard, Director of Operations.

Ice skating can be the perfect family night, date night, or just friends twirling around for fun. Most shoe sizes for both adults and youth are available at the rink. Come hungry and stay awhile; the facility is offering concession foods such as pizza, popcorn, nachos, candies, snacks, Pepsi products, coffee and hot cocoa. Or try one of their “$5 Ice Skate Meal Deals” which includes a hot dog or chicken tenders with fries and a drink for only $5.00. Concession items are available for sale and separate from skate admission/rental.

Click HERE for a complete list of ice skate session dates and times.
To learn more about private ice skate parties and availabilities, call 843-679-9417.

Harlem Globetrotters Bring New 2017 Tour to Florence SC

HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS BRING NEW TOUR TO Florence ON Sunday, April 2 ON THE HEELS OF SETTING NINE GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ RECORDS

Tickets are on sale now to see Globetrotters at Florence Center

(ATLANTA, Nov. 17, 2016) – As the Harlem Globetrotters prepare to bring their 2017 World Tour to the Florence Center in Florence on Sunday, April 2, at 3 p.m., the iconic team took a timeout for Guinness World Records Day. Only one year after setting seven official Guinness World Records titles, the Globetrotters broke a single-day total of nine records this year, including the longest basketball hook-shot.

Tickets to the see the Globetrotters in Florence start at $18 and are officially on sale now at harlemglobetrotters.com or the Florence Center box office. (Additional fees may apply).

Click HERE to visit the Florence SC Harlem Globetrotters event page.

The records were broken at the AT&T Center, home of the San Antonio Spurs, during the 12th annual Guinness World Records Day, a global celebration of record breaking launched to celebrate the day the Guinness World Records book sold its 100 millionth copy. Since 2000, the Globetrotters now own 15 current Guinness World Records.

“We are the original trick shot artists, so it is great to reclaim our records and reestablish our dominance,” said Harlem Globetrotters star Big Easy Lofton. “We have been training hard so to have a day where we push the limits and try some fun yet challenging shots, is pretty cool. I mean, how many people can say they’re a Guinness World Records title holder? We can’t wait to put smiles on people's faces as we demonstrate our skills and talents on the upcoming world tour.”

Among the nine Guinness World Records titles which were set by the Globetrotters, four of them reclaimed records that were originally held by the team and then broken by Dude Perfect. The Globetrotters reclaimed the records of longest basketball hook shot, longest basketball shot blindfolded, most basketball 3-pointers made by a pair in one minute, and longest blindfolded basketball hook shot.

Here’s a full look at the records set by the Globetrotters:

-Longest basketball hook shot – Big Easy Lofton (72 feet, 6.25 inches)
-Longest basketball shot blindfolded – Ant Atkinson (73 feet, 10 inches)
-Most basketball 3-pointers in one minute (single ball) – Ant Atkinson and Cheese Chisholm (10 each)
-Farthest basketball shot made while sitting on the court – Thunder Law (58 feet, 9.25 inches)
-Most bounced basketball 3-pointers in one minute – Zeus McClurkin (5)
-Most basketball 3-pointers made by a pair in one minute – Ant Atkinson and Cheese Chisholm (22 each)
-Farthest basketball shot under-one-leg – Thunder Law (52 feet, 5.5 inches)
-Longest blindfolded basketball hook shot – Big Easy Lofton (58 feet, 2.5 inches)
-Most basketball slam dunks in one minute (individual) – Zeus McClurkin (16)

The Globetrotters will tip off their 2017 World Tour on Dec. 26 and will play in over 250 North American markets as well as 30 countries worldwide. Tickets are now available at harlemglobetrotters.com.

The Harlem Globetrotters® are legendary worldwide, synonymous with one-of-a-kind family entertainment and great basketball skills for the past 90 years. Throughout their history, the Original Harlem Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 122 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever basketball experience. Proud inductees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans – among them popes, kings, queens, and presidents – over nine thrilling decades. Sponsored by Baden Sports, Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Herschend Enterprises, the largest family-owned themed entertainment company in the U.S. For the latest news and information about the Harlem Globetrotters, visit the Globetrotters' official Web site: www.harlemglobetrotters.com and follow them on Twitter @Globies.

Brantley Gilbert’s Devil Don’t Sleep Tour

Saturday, Feb 18th 2017- FLORENCE CENTER - Florence, SC
TICKETS ON SALE FRIDAY NOVEMBER 18th at 10 AM

Nashville, TN: Quietly selling back-to-back platinum with Halfway To Heaven and Just As I Am, Jefferson, Georgia’s Brantley Gilbert became a different kind of heavy metal force. Not seeking attention, but going straight to the heart of his audience, he tapped into the outlier, the roughneck, the downhome and the downtrodden by rocking his country hard and writing songs torn straight from their lives – making him the word-of-mouth favorite among people who don’t care what you call it, just that you bring it every time.

“People want to rock, they want to party, but they want the songs to be about their lives, and all I’ve ever done is write my life and take it on the road,” says the CMA Song of the Year nominee. “I come from the same kind of place our fans do, and there’s a lot of people just like me and my guys out there – and they show up because they know we’re gonna put it down.”

Starting Feb 2 in Readding, PA., the man with 6 #1s including Jason Aldean’s seminal “Dirt Road Anthem” and “My Kind of Party” picks up where he left off with two sold-out months-in-advance shows at Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater with his Devil Don’t Sleep Tour. Since Last year’s Blackout arena tour played to unprecedented numbers across the heart of the rust belt, the true Midwest and across the South in the dead of winter and his summer Take It Outside amphitheater tour saw the BG Nation turn out night after night.

“We try to take all the songs even further live,” says the man whose music includes the life-affirming, dignity-driven “One Hell of an Amen,” the beneath the surface love song “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” and the hardcore rebellion “Country Must Be Country Wide” in a far-ranging repertoire. “Because those folks who love the records, we know they’re gonna want it to hit between the eyes when come out to the show, and we wanna give’em the night of the year every time we take that stage.”

That fierce need to push his songs beyond the limit is what’s made the man who’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes in a force on the touring circuit – and it’s what’s going to make Gilbert’s Devil Don’t Sleep 2017 Tour push the limits between what a country show is all about with his unique blend of hard rock, country songcraft and dashes of church music and hip-hop thrown in.

“Headlining shows in arenas gives you a lot of room to rock,” admits the man who won 2013’s Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male and 2014’s American Music Award for Favorite Album – Country for his Just As I Am. “The rooms are big enough, the energy really gets going. They push us, we feed them and the whole thing gets louder and louder til it feels like the roof’s gonna come off. But they listen, the people who come like when we strip it back, and you can hear’em sing. So after last year’s Blackout, this year’s Devil Don’t Sleep is gonna be that much better.”

Named for the album Gilbert will be dropping in early 2017, his latest tour will be an intense night of music, graphics and songs ranging Hank Junior to his own signature kind of post-Outlaw country. Joining him for the tour will be hard charging Tucker Beathard, currently closing in on #1 with his debut “Rock On,” and indie breakout Luke Combs.

Click HERE to visit the concert event page

Country Music Stars Raise Collections for Pee Dee Kids

Female recording artists Tanya Tucker, Terri Clark, and Deana Carter in conjunction with the Florence Center are helping to collect holiday gifts for Toys For Tots assisting children in the Pee Dee region. And if helping children wasn’t enough, the Florence Center has announced a $10 reward to anyone donating new toys with a total combined value of $5 or more. The reward comes in the form of a $10.00-off concert coupon valid for any seat to see these famed country musicians perform live in Florence on November 18th. Toy donations can be dropped off at the Florence Center anytime during standard business hours prior to the start of the concert.

Only new unwrapped toys may be accepted.

About Toys For Tots:
The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Drop-Off Location:
Florence Center
3300 W. Radio Dr. Florence SC 29501

Drop-Off Times:
Mon-Fri 8:30am-5:30pm
Saturday 10am-2pm
Nov. 18 Concert Day until 7:30pm

All Donations to Benefit:
Toys For Tots (Pee Dee Area)

More Info:
(843) 679-9417

I Love the 90's Tour - CANCELED

The I Love the 90's Tour featuring Vanilla Ice, Salt N Pepa, and numerous 1990’s hit artists scheduled for November 11th at the Florence Center has unfortunately been canceled. With the community and region still struggling to recover from Hurricane Mathew, the concert promoter has seen lower than expected ticket sales and opted to cancel the event. The hurricane triggered power outages, flooding, home and road damages and unexpected expenses. “We’ve been at a standstill since the hurricane. Understandably it’s a slow recovery process and the economy is very slowly getting back to normal,” states Kaylen Snapp, Marketing Coordinator at the venue.

Ticket refunds will be available at the original point of purchase. Automatic refunds will be issued to all customers that purchased via phone or internet from Ticketmaster.

Disney On Ice presents Dream Big - CANCELLED

Due to the continued effects of Hurricane Matthew, the October 13 - 16 performances of Disney On Ice presents Dream Big at the Florence Center have been cancelled.

Ticket refunds will be available at the original point of purchase. Automatic refunds will be issued to all customers that purchased via phone or internet. All cash refunds through the Florence Center Box Office must be claimed by Friday, October 28.

The Florence Center box office will open by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, October 11. For any additional questions regarding refunds please contact the Florence Center box office during business hours at (843) 679-4525.

BOX OFFICE EXTENDED HOURS:
Florence Center Box Office will be open extended hours this week (Oct. 13-16) for ticket sales and Disney On Ice refunds.
Thursday, Oct. 13 10:00am-7:00pm
Friday, Oct. 14 10:00am-7:00pm
Saturday, Oct. 15 10:00am-5:00pm
​Sunday, Oct. 16 11:00am-3:00pm

Hurricane Matthew Updates - Venue Closed Friday & Saturday

Florence Center admin offices and box office will be closed October 7th & 8th. Charlie Wilson concert moved to October 27th. See below for more Pee Dee area cancellations & updates...

SOURCE: scnow.com

Updated: 10-5-16 at 4pm Visit scnow.com for most recent updates please.

SCHOOLS

Coker College will hold classes through 3 p.m. today and then will be closed until Monday.
Darlington County schools will be closed for the remainder of the week, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 5. All Darlington County School District offices will also be closed. All extracurricular activities and athletic events are canceled from Wednesday, Oct. 5 through Sunday, Oct. 9.
Dillon County schools will be closed for the remainder of the week.
Florence County schools will be closed for the remainder of the week.
Florence Darlington Technical College will be closed for the remainder of the week.
Francis Marion University will be closed for the remainder of the week.
Georgetown County schools will be closed for the remainder of the week.
Marion County schools will be closed for the remainder of the week.
Marlboro County schools will be closed for the remainder of the week.
Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School in Darlington will be closed for the remainder of the week.
All Wilson High School Homecoming events have been postponed.
Williamsburg County schools will be closed for the remainder of the week.

EVENTS

The Charlie Wilson concert scheduled for Thursday has been postponed to Oct. 27 at the Florence Center.

The 4th Annual Downtown Florence Oktoberfest, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been rescheduled for Friday, November 18.

BUSINESSES

The Dispensary Grand Opening Celebration planned for Oct. 5 has been postponed. A new date has not yet been announced.
Florence Center admin offices and box office will be closed Friday and Saturday.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has cancelled its Oct. 6, community meeting regarding the Arvin Meritor Site located at 144 Tranquil Church Road, Marion.

OTHERS

The McLeod Total Joint Replacement Reunion at McLeod Plaza, originally scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m., has been postponed. A new date has not been announced.
The West Florence Fire Department Open House scheduled for Saturday will be postponed. A new date has not been announced.

Updated: 10-5-16 at 4pm Visit scnow.com for most recent updates please.

Charlie Wilson Concert Postponed Due to Hurricane Matthew

Due to the overwhelming concern of hurricane Matthew and in conjunction with Governor Nikki Haley's state of emergency preparations, The Wilson Alumni Association and Florence Center have mutually agreed to postpone the Charlie Wilson concert event originally scheduled for October 6 and move the concert date to October 27. All tickets previously issued will be honored for the new date. The schedule change follows many cancellations and postponements throughout the Carolinas to ensure public safety. "We need to put safety first. All Wilson homecoming events including the Charlie Wilson concert have been postponed. Once this natural disaster has passed, we will pick up where we left off and celebrate Wilson's 150th anniversary," states Joyce Black, Marketing Agent, Wilson High Alumni Association

Tanya Tucker, Terri Clark & Deana Carter bringing country to Florence Center

Three of country music’s most notable female artists will perform together Nov. 18 at the Florence Center for a hot country ticket throwback special event.

Tanya Tucker, a defining voice of country music and a modern day legend, will perform with her full concert band in addition to an acoustic sessions with both Terri Clark and Deana Carter on that Friday.

Tucker has inspired countless female artists who still top the charts today. From recording her first Top 10 hit “Delta Dawn” at age 13, through Grammy Award nominations, Country Music Awards, a Super Bowl appearance, and scores of Top 10 hits, she is sure to deliver a classic, edgy and unpredictable performance for an incredible experience any country music fan is guaranteed to love.

Hailing from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Terri Clark is a two-time JUNO Award winner and eight-time CCMA Entertainer of the Year and she has taken home the Female Vocalist of the Year award five times. She still holds the honor of being the only Canadian female artist to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Clark has sold more than four million albums worldwide and has made her mark on radio with 13 Top Ten singles – hits that include “Better Things To Do,” “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” “Girls Lie Too,” and “I Just Wanna Be Mad.” Clark recently took over as host of Country Gold, a four-hour Classic Country radio show that airs on more than 100 stations across the US.

Deana Carter, drenched in sun-kissed natural beauty both inside and out, didn’t take a seemingly easy route to stardom but instead chose to defy the conventional expectations of the typical Nashville artist blueprint and made her own mark.

Carter took the industry and fans by storm with her multi-platinum international debut “Did I Shave My Legs For This?” more than a decade ago. Anchored by the dreamy super hit "Strawberry Wine," Carter showcased her own blend of country and retro-rock sprinkled with the folksy singer/songwriter qualities that have garnered her respect and acclaim.

Tanya Tucker Live in Concert With Special Guests Terri Clark and Deana Carter will take place at the Florence Center on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m., doors will open to the general public beginning at 6:30 p.m. Reserved seats start at $30 plus applicable fees. Tickets went on sale Sept. 16 and are available at the Florence Center Box Office, at Ticketmaster.com, or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Florence's Montgomery wins via TKO in MMA 843-Showdown

Talk about a homecoming to remember.

Florence’s Steve “The Creepy Weasel” Montgomery, who went to West Florence High School, won Saturday night’s Pro Main event via a first-round technical knockout over Columbia’s Roger “The Leprechaun” Carroll at the Florence Center as part of the Mixed Martial Arts 843-Showdown.

In the Pro Co event, Tim Goodwin defeated Craig Yerkey via a first-round TKO.

Dameon Melton defeated Wesley Golden, Grant Shanaman defeated Corey Jones via a unanimous decision and Brandon Schofield won via a TKO against D’Shawn Oates.

Deandre Anderson defeated Scotty Ingram, and Quintin Thomas beat Jose Davila.

Mara Matia defeated Nohelia Guillot, Miles Belk beat Joseph Poole and Aren Besson beat Rashad Hood.

Official MMA weigh-ins set for Sept 30

ESPN Radio & Buffalo Wild Wings host the Official Weigh-Ins for MMA 843-Showdown presented by Mitchell Productions

ESPN Radio & Buffalo Wild Wings will host the Official Weigh-Ins for MMA 843-Showdown on Friday, September 30th. Weigh-ins start at 6:00pm at Buffalo Wild Wings in Florence, SC. ESPN Radio is offering BOGO tickets during the weigh-ins from 6:00pm-8:00pm only, so stop by for buy 1 get 1 free MMA event tickets. The public is invited to attend and meet the competitors plus take photo opportunities. Press and media are invited as well.

Buffalo Wild Wings is located at 2599 David H McLeod Blvd, Florence, SC 29501, aside the Magnolia Mall. Florence Center box office personnel will be on site selling BOGO tickets during the weigh-ins. Cash and most major credit cards accepted.

The official weigh-ins take place on Friday evening, September 30th, the day before MMA Fight Night on Saturday, October 1st for the 843-Showdown at Florence Center.

Toby Keith Concert Date Postponed

Due to the growing concerns of fuel shortages and gas price increases in the Southeast, the Toby Keith performance originally scheduled for September 22, 2016 at the Florence Center has been postponed and repositioned to March 9, 2017.

As North Carolina remains in a state of emergency and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley issued an executive order to assist gasoline supplies flowing, the Florence Center and tour managers collectively opted to postpone this Thursday night’s performance.

“This is a major show for the region which attracts fans within a 1 to 2 hour drive and beyond. We understand the growing concerns for Toby’s fans and our own fans as we’ve been receiving distress messages over the past couple days,” states Florence Center General Manager, Kendall Wall.

The gas shortages throughout the Southeast has effected South Carolina and been especially demanding in North Carolina. “It would be unfair for these fans and unrealistic for them to travel given the current dismal situation with gas prices and availability,” Wall continues.

All tickets previously issued will remain valid for the new date set for March 9, 2017. Ticket holders are asked to keep their tickets in a safe and dry place as they will be honored in March. Refunds will be made accessible for a limited time to ticket purchasers unavailable to attend the revised date and requiring a refund. Refunds will only be made available at the original point of sale.

Love Jones the Musical is Headed to Florence

(September 13, 2016) – Originally released as a movie in 1997, Love Jones became a cult classic that captured the imagination of an entire generation, and now its back. Love Jones – the Musical is not just a stage play… it is the MUST SEE musical event of 2016. Fusing an A-List musical lineup with a movie title that is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, Love Jones – the Musical is a brilliant idea coming along at exactly the right time. This event will bring the star-studded line up to the SMG-managed Florence Center on November 23, 2016.

Based on the award-winning Dramatic film directed and written by Theodore Witcher and Nominated for 7 Film Festival Awards, including Outstanding Motion Picture, LOVE JONES first released on January 17, 1997 at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Black Film Award for Best Soundtrack. It is the contemporary romantic love story of a professional photographer named Nina and Darius, a poetic novelist set in the world of Chicago’s middle class black artists and professionals.

Theodore Witcher (the original screenwriter and director) will respectively serve as Director and Screenplay Writer. The musical stage production will star legendary hip-hop icon, media personality and businesswoman MC Lyte. She will be joined by the star-studded roster of R&B music favorites including Musiq Soulchild, Chrisette Michelle, Marsha Ambrosius, Dave Hollister and Raheem DeVaughn.

Love Jones the Musical has been brought to life with some of the biggest names in music today. Musiq Soulchild, Chrisette Michele, Marsha Ambrosius, MC Lyte, Dave Hollister and Raheem DeVaughn have been carefully selected as they each bring a sizable audience and a recognizable catalog of hits that will make Love Jones – the Musical an event with unquestioned appeal. Produced with the size and scale of a concert, this show has been given all of the elements to make it a magical, transformative experience for the audience. Think of it like a concert, only with a theme. And that theme is the telling of a classic story that captured the hearts and minds of an entire generation of women.

Love Jones the Musical will take place at the Florence Center on Wednesday, November 23, 2016, the evening before Thanksgiving. The show will begin at 8pm, doors will open to the general public beginning at 7pm. Reserved seats start at $43.00 plus applicable fees. Tickets go on sale September 16, 2016 at 10am and will be available at the Florence Center Box Office, at Ticketmaster.com, or by phone at (800) 745-3000. The Florence Center is located at 3300 West Radio Drive, Florence, SC. For complete concert details and venue information, please visit florencecenter.com.

Win Tickets To See Toby Keith in Concert!

Mike Reichenbach Ford is giving away FREE TICKETS EVERY DAY to see Toby Keith Interstates & Tailgates Tour Presented by Ford F-Series with Special Guest Chris Janson and Waterloo Revival at Florence Center on September 22nd!

A free pair of tickets - every day!!!

Before You Buy, Give Mike A Try

Before you buy any car or truck, Give Mike A Try! at Mike Reichenbach Ford Lincoln in Florence. It’s easy to shop in person or online at GiveMikeATry.com

For your chance to WIN FREE tickets to see Toby Keith in concert, simply visit GiveMikeATry.com to register -OR- stop by the dealership and "take a selfie" with our life-size Toby Keith display for ANOTHER chance to win!

Darlington Car Hauler Parade to celebrate start of race week

Next Thursday, NASCAR fans can cheer on the Sprint Cup teams when the annual Car Hauler Parade and Festival returns to the Pee Dee for the 12th year.

The parade of NASCAR haulers will make its way from the Florence Center to the Darlington Square and ultimately finish the journey at the “Too Tough To Tame” track.

But first fans and transporters alike will celebrate with a family-friendly festival at the Florence Center, which begins at 4 p.m.

“Each year we hold the festival to welcome the racecars coming to the NASCAR track,” said Holly Beaumier, director of the Florence Convention and Vistors Bureau. “It’s the kick-off for race week, and we’re always excited to see the large transporters that carry the racecars.”

There will be entertainment galore, including live music from The Konnection Band, the Budweiser Clydesdales, a racing simulator sponsored by Pepsi and a Kids Zone with inflatable rides, games and a bungee jump. The GameTruck will bring a selection of games for Xbox360, Wii and PS3; it can accommodate up to 16 players at once.

Twenty-year-old Chase Elliott will be hosting a question-and-answer session at 4 p.m., and fans will have the chance to chat with the Sprint Cup driver.

This year’s Car Hauler Parade has a late-1970s theme to coincide with the throwback theme that the Darlington Raceway is doing, Beaumier said. A costume contest will be held at 6 p.m. on the day of the event.

“It’s following the theme of the 1970s and '80s,” Beaumier said. “They can wear vintage clothing or they could dress up as, say, Rocky or a movie star or movie character from the '70s or '80s.”

A silent auction containing a variety of NASCAR items and race memorabilia will be held. Proceeds from the silent auction benefit Darlington Shares, a charity established by the Darlington Raceway with the goal of helping those in need throughout the Pee Dee.

Fans can then make their way through a sea of NASCAR transporters, take pictures with their favorite team’s hauler and even have a chance to ride in the big rig during the parade.

Refreshments will be available for purchase at the event, with Julia Bell’s, Marco’s Pizza, Kona Ice and more on site. The proceeds from food served by Julia Belle’s will support Camp Pee Dee Pride.

The official Car Hauler parade leaves the Florence Center around 7 p.m. to make the 12-mile trip to the Darlington Square for Darlington RaceFest, where there will be entertainment, food, a car show and a fireworks display. Thursday’s fun concludes at the Darlington Raceway, where transporters will gear up for the Bojangles' Southern 500 race.

Generally, parade-goers choose one location, either the Florence Center or the Darlington Square, to enjoy the festivities.

“But the people at the Florence Center often leave about 20 minutes before the parade starts, and they choose another location to watch the haulers drive past,” Beaumier said.

Some of the best locations include Five Points, the Pee Dee State Farmers Market and anywhere along U.S. 52, she said.

Admission to next Thursday’s event is free and open to all. The fun kicks off at 4 p.m. For more information, visitwww.darlingtoncarhaulerparade.com.

Story by: Morning News, Deborah Swearingen
Photo Source: Morning News, Joe Perry - MacKenzie Perry, 18 with her mother Isabelle MacKenzie and father Butch Perry check out some big rigs early Thursday evening at the Florence Center as part of the 11th Annual Darlington Car Hauler Parade and Festival.
Photo Credit: Morning News, Joe Perry
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