Thousands celebrate 10-year-milestone for Summerville Sweet Tea Festival

Published: Sep. 23, 2023 at 10:57 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2023 at 11:18 PM EDT

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - The Annual Sweet Tea Festival brings thousands of community members together every year to help the once-small-town continue to thrive.

Saturday marks a decade of celebration for the sweet treat special to the heart of Summerville.

Organizers reflected on how the event will remain a staple to the Lowcountry after its ten-year milestone.

“Not only allowing us to come here, do this right in front of their front doors, but businesses are thriving and seeing how amazing it is to have these kinds of events,” Summerville DREAM team member Stephen Slappey said.

It’s all about the food, games and fun.

And of course: the sweet tea.

“I’ve tried a lot. My favorite is the regular,” 9-year-old festivalgoer Asher said.

Lines of people crowded the streets of downtown Summerville to get a glimpse, and a sip, of the most unique sweet tea flavors the Lowcountry has to offer.

“Long lines for all the teas, so I don’t know,” Summerville DREAM Team member Jessica Schaefer said. “There’s a lot of people, we have 17 different vendors selling so. What we can say is we cannot confirm or deny a winner until it’s over.”

This year marks 10 since the festival opened its doors to the public.

Each time the event offers an open house for vendors in food and beverage, art, clothing, live music, and more.

“We started in 2013 with the Sweet Tea Festival. We found out Summerville was the birthplace of sweet tea, where it started. We were like, ‘We need to be on the map for that,’” Slappey said.

Long-time Lowcountry community members say it’s not only become a tradition to the town, but a special place for families, friends and neighbors.

“Just about every year, I come here every year because my mom is one of the vendors,” Long-time festivalgoer Brunte Austin said.

Austin adds there is always something new to see, hear or taste.

“Every year I’m here, I love it. It’s different every year.”

Members of the nonprofit Summerville DREAM team say they were impressed by the turnout.

“A lot of our contest vendors for the sweet tea contests are already out of cups because there’s so many people out here,” Schaefer said.

They add the overwhelming support from the public makes a difference.

“We are so appreciative to see this community thrive because it is willing to support itself,” Slappey said.