From meeting the mayor to great food and friends, the “Travels with Darley” viewing party in Five Points in Columbia, SC.

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Check out that marquee! Celebrating Travels with Darley in Columbia, SC.

From meeting the mayor to great food and friends… the “Travels with Darley” viewing party at The Cotton Gin in the Five Points neighborhood of Columbia, South Carolina showcased the the best of locals on the big screen and in real life!

One of the perks of my job as a travel TV host and entrepreneur is traveling to meet wonderful locals not only in the USA but all around the world. Our Emmy Award-winning production team puts a lot of hard work into each segment that we produce of Travels with Darley and also Equitrekking, but it’s through the locals that each destination’s story truly shines through. They take the time to share their passion for their area and small businesses with us and our viewers, truly personalizing the travel experience and making for authentic, memorable stories.

While we are often on the road filming and then back in a dark edit room putting it all together, it’s not so often that we get to take a step back and return to a destination we’ve filmed. It’s even rarer that we get to do it by attending a cool viewing party with the locals who helped make our episode happen! I was more than excited when the Columbia CVB and Five Points, a historic Columbia neighborhood where we filmed, reached out to invite me to a special viewing party to celebrate the Columbia feature in our new TV series, broadcasting across the nation on PBS stations. The viewing party took place last night at The Cotton Gin, which was a movie theatre in the 1950’s.

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The 5 Points Theatre on Harden Street showed foreign films during the ’50s, charging just nine cents for admission. Photo from the collection of Malcolm Samuel Suggs, City Manager of the seven Columbia Theatres in the Wilby-Kincey Theatre Chain.

Check out these photos from the event.

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What an honor! Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, who has actively worked on community initiatives dating back to his time at USC, the University of South Carolina, and whose accomplishments have drawn national attention and accolades, attended the viewing party.

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With Tom Lockart and Mark Woodham of One Eared Cow Glass, artists featured in our “Road Trip: Maryland,

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Virginia, South Carolina” episode.

With Amy Beth Franks, Executive Director of the Five Points Association, and the crew from The Cotton Gin, who helped to host the event in Five Points.

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Southern Belly BBQ, The Gourmet Shop and Sweet Cream Company, all featured in our episode, catered the event with tasty BBQ, mac and cheese,  baked beans, Prosecco, and artisanal ice cream. KW Beverage donated Stella Artois and, of course, the fresh popcorn was a hit.

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Watching the show! I think Ray-Ban may need to be a future sponsor.

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Guests from many Columbia neighborhoods and the South Carolina Department of Parks and Tourism, whose work with Travel South USA helped to make our first season of Travels with Darley possible, turned out to watch the segment that featured Five Points, Southern Belly BBQ, Sweet Cream ice cream on Main Street, the historic Woodrow Wilson Family Home and the Vista.

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All in all it was a wonderful event and a great way to celebrate Columbia’s community, entrepreneurs and the places that inspire us all to travel and make new friends!

Watch the “Travels with Darley: Road Trip” episode featuring Columbia on Friday night at 7pm on SC-ETV and look for it on your local PBS TV station. Check out our itinerary from filming in Columbia.