BRANCHVILLE, S.C. — The town of Branchville is celebrating its 54th Railroad Daze festival this weekend. Local historians say this is how the town honors being home to the world's oldest railroad junction, according to the state's tourism agency.
According to former Railroad Daze chairman Tom Jennings, the Southern Railway cut off passenger trains in the 1960's. This caused the town of Branchville to suffer.
“Many businesses thrived here because of the railroad. The greatest economic impact for Branchville was the railroad," said Jennings.
He says the town started the Railroad Daze Festival in 1969 to revamp Branchville. Gladys Ruple and Jerry Thompson have been attending the festival every year since its inception.
“We don’t have everything that’s in the world here, but for me my world started right here at Branchville," said Thompson.
There are vendors, food trucks, concession stands, and a parade. When it first began, Jennings says up to 80,000 people would visit Branchville for the weekend.
“Our festival has always been a staple in this part of our state due to our railroad affiliation and being one of the oldest in the state," said Jennings.
This year's festival is a little extra special. They recently remodeled the train depot and this is the first time people who come to the festival will see the new improvements.
Jennings says this is a chance to show off the town and its tradition.
“ I try to tell every one of them that I purchase anything from, thank you for coming. Many of them have been here for years and that’s what keeps us going. It stabilizes this festival," said Jennings.
The festivities end on Saturday with a musical performance at 8 p.m.