10th annual Follypalooza will benefit five Folly locals battling cancer
By Miranda Steadman | Contributing Writer
Since Follypalooza was founded in 2007 it has been a fun way to enjoy some live music, visit with neighbors, and give back to the community. Follypalooza returns Saturday, Oct. 21, marking the end of tourist season on the beach and the official beginning of the Folly festival season. In it’s first decade, the annual festival has raised more than $67,000 to help a total of 35 Folly Beach locals battling cancer. This year there are five confirmed cancer survivors who will benefit from funds raised at this year’s Follypalooza.
“We help locals, those who live and work here, with their bills, meals, gas, whatever they need to give them some piece of mind so they can focus on beating cancer,” explains Follypalooza President Kelly Russ. “We have been able to help everyone who has come to us or been brought to us so far. And this goes beyond cancer, if we have the money we will help those with other medical ailments. We paid rent for a local who shattered both his ankles,” Russ said.
A group of selfless local ladies called The Folly Angels help identify beneficiaries of Follypalooza as well as provide volunteers for the event. Local cancer survivors Nathan Calhoun and Michelle Neunsinger were the catalytic beneficiaries of the event, followed by fellow survivor Sharon Geiger. Past beneficiaries include Jerry Pierce, Dominic D’Amato, and Ozzy Garcia, who all sadly lost their battles with cancer in recent years.
Money raised from the event is not given directly to beneficiaries, but is used to pay their bills, whether it is for rent, utilities, or medical expenses. Funds have also been put towards the purchase of gas cards to help those who travel for treatment to Duke or other institutions specializing in cancer treatment.
This year Megan McCartney is one of the five beneficiaries of the event. McCartney, who works in the tourism industry of Folly Beach in addition to teaching, has been diagnosed with Epithelial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Despite this, she continues to spread positivity and kindness to everyone surrounding her.
“Community is everything. These are our neighbors, our friends, our family,” says Russ. “Folly has an especially unique sense of community, in my opinion. This is Folly-friending Folly. Through one event, we are able to give back to our community, providing the peace of mind that bills are being paid so our locals don’t have to worry about late fees, utilities being shut off, or even losing their home while they fight what is likely the biggest fight of their life.”
The event starts at 10 a.m. and Center Street will be closed to traffic from Huron to Ashley avenues. Local bluegrass band Dallas Baker & Friends will take the Ashley Avenue stage at 11:30 a.m., followed by local reggae group The Dubplates at 2 p.m. Plane Jane play The Washout Stage from 12-2 p.m., followed by Dave Landeo & The Sol Beats at 2:30 p.m. Festivities conclude at 5 p.m. and Center Street will reopen to traffic.
Admission for the festival is free for Folly residents and children under 12. For non-residents, the cost is $5 in advance and $10 at the gate, with all admission proceeds benefitting local cancer fighters. Kids. Admission includes a complementary cup and festival koozie. Wristbands will be given to attendees 21 and older who want to enjoy a beverage in the street during the course of the festival. Spirit sponsor for the event is Deep Eddy’s and a free shuttle will run from Chico Feo to Loggerhead’s and Pier 101 to ensure a safe ride to businesses off Center Street.
The event prides itself on being a family friendly festival, with a Kid Zone comprised of jump castles, carnival games and face painting. Local musician Sweet T will perform at the Kid Zone at 11, followed by Dave Grunstra at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Title sponsor of the event, local real estate company Luxury Simplified, donated $17,500 to the event back in June. Additional funds are raised from sponsorships, vendors, admission, game tickets, shirt sales, prize auctions, and a date auction. Dates auctioned range from firemen, nurses, bartenders, lawyers, and doctors. The date auction is the single, highest revenue-generating component of the event itself.
This year there will be also be a beer garden at The Washout Beach Eats this year. Presented by Bear Island Distributors, the beer garden will feature local craft beer, ciders, and wine. Attendees can buy a wristband for sampling various libations or purchase full drinks.
Vendors include Drifter Merch, SnoBar, Metal Art Signs, Sea Island Apothecary, Mission Essentials, LaSirena, Local Dog, King of Pops, Good Juju Charleston, Sacred Body Massage, LulaRoe by Rachel Jones, KLM Jewelry, Silly Monkey Toy Shop, Cotton & Pearls and Peachy Keen. Participating nonprofits include The Boon Project, Surfer’s Healing, Folly Beach Exchange Club, Folly Association of Busines, and the Folly Beach Public Library.