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Pickens County Performing Arts Center in Liberty Holds Grand Opening
'Dream Big' Showcase Raises nearly $23,000 for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
By Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine


"Be a Dreamer" and "Dream Big" were the themes for the August 17, 2017 grand opening of the Pickens County Performing Arts Center, featuring Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields, Miss South Carolina 2017 Suzi Roberts, Miss South Carolina 2015 Daja Dial, Miss South Carolina 1986 Dawn Smith Jordan, Miss South Carolina 1985 Sherry Thrift Bradshaw, 12-year-old Luke Brazinski, and eight-year-old Riley Fincher-Foster.

The event was held in the former Liberty Civic Auditorium, recently further renovated and renamed the Pickens County Performing Arts Center. The building had been the auditorium for Liberty High School until 1985, when a new Liberty High School was built and the school became the location for Liberty Middle School. (Liberty Middle School is now housed in the 1985 Liberty High School facilities, as a newer Liberty High School has been built.)

The evening began with a video showing film clips of those well known in the performing arts as well as in the political realm, with the message “Be a dreamer.”

Dial, who reigned as Miss South Carolina 2015 and graduated from Clemson University on August 11, 2017, served as host for the evening and welcomed the crowd and called the Performing Arts Center’s grand opening “just an example of the amazing things that are happening in South Carolina but specifically in Pickens County.

“This new administration is going to take this county to new places,” she said, “and this is just an example of what they’re going to do in this amazing county.”

By way of a recorded statement on video, Pickens County Marketing and Tourism Director Jay Pitts, who was in attendance for the event, welcomed everyone. “Back in May, I came on board as part of Pickens County government,” he said. “An exciting time for me. And I saw what previous County Councils had done, a couple of years back, here in the Liberty Civic Auditorium. They took a middle school auditorium and turned it into a place called Liberty Civic Auditorium, where you can come and perform.

"The building is beautiful. It’s amazing. But I quickly realized that we didn’t have a lot of high tech theatrical equipment in the auditorium. I put a budget together, went before County Council, and they approved the budget, and the next thing I knew, we were going to take what the previous County Council has done and follow the vision of Roy Costner and the new Council by outfitting this auditorium with state-of-the-art lighting, using LED fixtures, with an upgraded sound system, hanging microphones from the ceiling, and hanging microphones and sound systems out front. We’re bringing in all brand new audio-visual equipment, so that you can enjoy all facets of this auditorium. That’s been done over the last 30 days. We’ve cut holes in the back wall. We’ve opened up spaces in the back. We’ve cut curtains and made a wrap-a-round stage into a wing space by having legs. The big movement that we did was to take our back curtain and move it four feet, so that we can create a bigger stage. All of that is going to enhance everything that we do. So, we’re looking forward to a brand new auditorium, so much so that we began talking about it and we realized that it was really a performing arts center. And so, we decided it was going to be called The Pickens County Performing Arts Center, and that’s where we are tonight.

“I’m over-the-top excited about the opportunities we have here in Pickens County with our Performing Arts Center,” he continued. “I’m committed to bringing in the very best talent we have, not only in our community but across the state, and keeping the ticket price at no more than $10 a person. I want to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to come, see a great show, and enjoy themselves. In addition, we’re going to partner with the McKissick Center right next door, and with some of the local restaurants in downtown Liberty, and we’re going to host events prior to and during intermissions, so that we can help the local community, as well. So, with all of that said, come join us and be a part of The Pickens County Performing Arts Center, better known as PC PAC.”


Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Miss South Carolina 1985 (and Miss Liberty 1985) Sherry Thrift Bradshaw with Miss South Carolina 2015 Daja Dial at the Pickens County Performing Arts Center's grand opening the evening of Thursday, August 17, 2017.



“Are y’all excited about the things that are coming to Pickens County?” Dial asked the audience. “Me, too. I think that is going to be fantastic, and it’s going to bring so many wonderful things to the county.”

Dial then welcomed to the stage Miss South Carolina 1985 Sherry Thrift Bradshaw (who had been crowned Miss Liberty on the very same stage), as a video clip was shown of her being crowned Miss South Carolina.

“I’m really glad to be here,” said Bradshaw. “I was born and raised in Oconee County, but it was actually Pickens County that gave me the opportunity to be Miss South Carolina, because there was no pageant anywhere in Oconee County for me to compete. I wanted to compete close to home where I felt at home, and Liberty provided that opportunity for me, so my heart has been here for a very long time. I’m so excited. I’ve always said this, ‘Good things come from small towns.’ And I’m so glad to see this county and this town open up a performing arts center that gives the kids and the people of this area an opportunity to come together and enjoy entertainment and the arts. I appreciate you coming, and I appreciate you supporting the efforts and anything that goes on here. Please, bring people. Please, spread the word.

“It’s just near and dear to my heart. I told Jay I’m going on the Board. I want to give back in this area, specifically to Pickens County, and I want to help bring whatever your vision is to this area, and I appreciate Miss America coming and the Miss South Carolina pageant staff that traveled from Greenville and Columbia to be here.


Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Miss South Carolina 1985 Sherry Thrift Bradshaw with George Jackson, who was Mayor of Liberty when Bradshaw was crowned Miss Liberty 1985.





But I got my start here in the Miss South Carolina Pageant, or the title of Miss Liberty that led to Miss South Carolina for me.

“I’m 55. I have three kids that are grown. For those of you that don’t know, our son had a stroke in January and almost died. He went to Clemson, and I’m still going through mail and messages, and there were so many people from this area, from Liberty, that said, ‘We were part of the team when you were Miss Liberty’, and I appreciate that. I mean, you 'dig deep roots', and, by the time you’re 55, you have really deep roots. And they’re right here, and I love being here.”

“You talked about the support that Pickens County showed you right now in everything that happened with Brewer,” said Dial, “but, when you were preparing for Miss America, when you went to Miss America, and you came back from Miss America as first runner up, what kind of support did you receive then? We want to know a little bit about your talent, as well, because you had a little something different for Miss America back then. So we want to know all about that.”

“I was the first clogger ever in Miss America,” said Bradshaw. “When you grow up in a small town, I just did what everybody else was doing, and the only thing there was to do was to clog. And so I really loved taking that all of the way through Liberty to Miss South Carolina to Miss America. And, when I got home from the Miss America pageant, there were so many people, and there was a parade and a welcome home, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t bring home the crown to Liberty and the state of South Carolina. But it was very exciting for me to be the first clogger in Miss America. It really was.”
 
“Can you still clog?” Dial asked her.

“Yeah, are you kidding me?” said Bradshaw, as she clogged a little on stage.

Bradshaw was then greeted by George Jackson, whom she welcomed up to the stage. “He was the Mayor of Liberty when I was crowned Miss South Carolina,” she said. “He was so good to me as Miss South Carolina and Miss Liberty.”

Jackson noted that she had lost Miss America by only a fraction of a point. “But, to me,” he said, “she won it all.”


Slideshow photographs below by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine
Dial then welcomed to the stage 12-year-old Luke Brazinski, who played fiddle and guitar and sang three songs, including “Folsom Prison Blues” and “My Sally.”

“Let’s give another round of applause for Luke and his family,” said Dial. “Twelve years old. What an amazing, God-given talent.”


Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Luke Brazinski, age 12, plays the fiddle at the grand opening of the Pickens County Performing Arts Center.



                                   Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

                  Luke Brazinski sings and plays guitar at the Performing Arts Center's grand opening.


Slideshow photographs below by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

The audience was then shown a video clip of Dawn Smith Jordan crowned Miss South Carolina 1986, and Dial welcomed her to the stage. “You’ve got some God-given talent yourself,” Dial said, noting that Jordan, second runner-up to Miss America, sang as part of her talent competition.  Jordan then sang a song to help open the performing arts center.

“When my friend Jay Pitts asked me to come be a part of tonight, I said, ‘Of course, I will do it.’ I’m delighted to be here tonight. What a beautiful facility this is. It’s so good to come back to the community of Liberty. I was Miss Liberty in 1986. Sherry crowned me Miss Liberty, and then she crowned me Miss South Carolina.

“I was from Columbia,” Jordan continued. “And I’ll just tell y’all the scoop. I competed in Miss Columbia, and I lost. Liberty had an open pageant, and I came to this wonderful community, and this is where I lived during my reign as Miss South Carolina that year. I could not have asked for a more supportive, wonderful community than this one right here.

“And, tonight, we are celebrating dreams. We’ve heard some amazing talent. And it was good to see my former Miss South Carolina friend Sherry again. And you’ve got some more talent coming up.”

Jordan then sang a second song, which she said “is very near and dear to my heart.

“It was my Mom’s favorite song. I had dreams of being a professional Christian singer one day, and, when I lost Miss Columbia, my voice teacher said, ‘You need to try again.’ And I said, ‘I don’t really want to try again.’ She said, ‘You need to try again.’ And so, I did, and the rest is history. And so the Miss America program and the town of Liberty got me started toward that to today, to be really blessed to sing in about 75 concerts a year around the country. My Mom passed away 13 and a half years ago from ovarian cancer. But, anytime I’d be anywhere near Columbia or Lexington, where I lived, she’d call me on the phone that day, and she’d say, ‘Now, Daddy and I are coming tonight to hear you sing. Now, you’re going to sing my favorite song, right?’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, ma’am, I am.’ And she’d say, ‘What is it?’ And I’d say, ‘Mama, I know what’s your favorite.’ ‘Well, what’s the name of it?’ And so, every time I’d laugh, because my Mama always called this song “Keep On Believing.” The composers actually entitled it “Keep Believing.” But, to my Mama, it was always “Keep On Believing.” And you know, when you’ve got a dream, that’s what you do. You don’t give up. You press on. You believe in that dream until you see it fulfilled. And so, this is a dream come true for this wonderful community, and I’m so excited and honored to be a part of tonight. And I’d love to close my time with you with this song “Keep Believing”.”



Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine


Miss South Carolina 1986 (and Miss Liberty 1986) Dawn Smith Jordan sings at the grand opening of The Pickens County Performing Arts Center. Miss South Carolina 2015 Daja Dial (at left) hosted the grand opening the evening of Thursday, August 17, 2017.



Jordan then sang the song, written by Tim Pedigo, with the words as follows:

"When troubles rise and catch you unaware
The day to day of living seems unfair
So you try again your dreams and plans
But they end up in defeat
The fancy frills that once fulfilled
Now leave you incomplete
And you wonder where your life's gone wrong
And why you can't find peace
Your hope's not gone, it's been too long

Since you've had to believe

Keep believing in what you know is true
Keep believing, you know the Lord will see you through
When troubles rise in your life
And you don't know what to do,
You'll be fine if you’ll just keep believing.


You can take Him at his word
He is faithful, kind, and true
Not a prayer will go unanswered
In His time He'll see you through

Keep believing in what you know is true
Keep believing, you know the Lord will see you through
When troubles rise in your life
and you don't know what to do,
You’ll be fine if you’ll just

Keep believing in what you know is true,
Keep believing, you know the Lord will see you through.
When troubles rise in your life
and you don't know what to do,
You’ll be fine if you’ll just keep believing."

“If I was a Miss America judge, she could still win it today,” said Dial. “Absolutely. Thank you so much, Dawn.”


Slideshow photographs below by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

 

Dial then recognized the first lady crowned Miss Liberty, who was in the audience.

“The Miss Liberty legacy has so many incredible accomplishments, and so many women to hold that title, Miss South Carolina, finalist at Miss South Carolina, finalist at Miss America,” she said. “But it all began with the very first Miss Liberty. And, if you’ll let up the house lights, I think we have the very first Miss Liberty in the house. Please stand and be recognized. The very first Miss Liberty, Harriett Davis Gibson. Thank you so much for being with us tonight. This legacy began with you, and we thank you for all that you did to establish it, and these women have continued in your legacy. We thank you for being here with us tonight.

“The legacy is continuing to be built in Pickens County,” said Dial, “and, with new leadership, it is well on its way of making its own new accomplishments.” She then welcomed to the stage Roy Costner, Chair of the Pickens County Council.

Costner asked the other members of County Council who were present, Chris Bowers, Wes Hendricks, and Carl Hudson, to join him on stage.

“I’m very excited about tonight,” said Costner, who thanked the audience as well as the present and past Miss America contestants and his fellow Council members for attending.

“We have a unique situation in Pickens County. We have four new people that came on, and we are so excited to be a part of the dreams for Pickens County. We’ve looked at what’s been accomplished in the past, and now we’re going to talk about how we, as a leadership team and the staff that are a part of Pickens County, have a vision going forward. So, it’s been awesome.” He mentioned recent announcements of key businesses locating in the Pickens County Commerce Park in Liberty. “It’s exciting,” he said, “because we believe in communication, collaboration, and working with our state delegation, and a lot of those guys are here tonight. And we’ve been talking about how we’re going to continue to bring those companies in, and we’re going to bring those jobs in.

 “But we’re also thinking about this. We’ve all said the same thing. Pickens County’s got an even bigger opportunity. I want you to just imagine. There was a guy back in the late ‘50s, and he decided that he was going to go and buy some swamp land in Florida. And I’m sure that the guys that sold him the swamp land in Florida were thrilled to do it. And he wound up with his dream of the Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney. This man had a vision for that, but he had to pour an awful lot into it. Well, guess what. God has given Pickens County the greatest lakes, and the greatest mountains, and the greatest streams, and the greatest trails, and the greatest opportunities of the outdoors. We want you to join with us and dream big and begin to imagine what it would be like to have a gateway to the Appalachians, a resort of sorts that’s not built on top of, but built into the natural beauty that we have right here in Pickens County. What if we could become a drive-to destination rather than a drive-through destination? And The Performing Arts Center is just a small part of that, and that’s why we’re so excited to be here tonight. But, if you could go to a resort that had cabins (or glamping, which I’ve learned about, thanks to Councilman Bowers), or if you wanted to go camping outdoors, and let’s say you show up at the resort and there’s a van that leaves out to go hiking or go kayaking with Councilman Hendricks over here or head out to the Doodle Trail or to come to The Performing Arts Center or to go to a Clemson game and make that a part of that package. That’s what we want to dream big about. That’s what our vision is. There are millions of dollars spent in this state in tourism, and most of that money goes down to the lower part of the state. No offense, guys in the lower part of the state, but we want to bring those tourism dollars here, and bring that money back up into Pickens County and let us be the jewel that shines.

 “We want to show you a little video of how we’re dreaming big,” he said, and then a tourism video spotlighting Pickens County was then shown to the audience
.


Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Pickens County Council members Wes Hendricks, Chris Bowers, Chair Roy Costner, and Carl Hudson.


Slideshow photographs below by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine


A video clip of when Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields was crowned Miss America 2017 was shown to the audience.

“I am thrilled and can’t be more excited,” said Costner, who introduced Shields to the stage.

“Hello, everyone,” said Shields. “I am so excited to be here. I am in a different state every 48 hours. This year, as Miss America, I’ve lived out of my two very overweight suitcases, but I have been counting down the days to be with you all in Pickens County. The very nice man in the very first video you saw, Mr. Jay Pitts, is actually the sole reason that I am Miss America. A little known fact, he was my judge at Miss Arkansas last July. Now, we’re great friends. I am forever grateful, and thank you so much to Jay Pitts for showing the legacy of passion and inspiring people.

“I was Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen in 2009, when I was 13 years old, and that kind of knocked me out of the pageant system for a very long time. But I saw the impact of what this organization does. And I watched my role models influence and impact an entire state with just one voice, and I wanted to do the same thing. But I also realized that it took a lot of hard work, and that I needed to be mentally and emotionally and spiritually mature enough to have that type of job. At the same time, I was painfully insecure. And I found pageants, and I ran to pageants, to kind of fill that void, fill that void of ‘See, you’re in pageants, you are pretty,’ or ‘See, you’re in pageants, you are successful,’ ‘See, you are in pageants, fill in the blank.’ I filled in that void having a crown on my head. And it took me a very long time to find confidence in myself and say yes this is a dream that I want and insecurities that I have are not going to be guidelines, as barriers. They are not going to map out my capabilities. The insecurities that I have, I will not allow them to kind of map out how far my brain thinks that I can go. So, after years of not competing in pageants but training for pageants, and finding out who I was, and finding my worth in just being, and finding my confidence, and finding my role models in people like we’ve gotten to meet tonight, I finally gained that confidence. Then, around a year ago, I competed for Miss Arkansas, thanks to Mr. Jay Pitts, and, a month later, became your Miss America. And it has been the most wild, most crazy, most insane, wonderful, hardest, most beautiful year of my entire life.

“And I want to tell you a story. I’m a part of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I’m the National Goodwill Ambassador for this year. And what that means is, I get to go directly into hospitals and hang out with the most courageous and wise and loving human beings. And I also get to go to events that raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“One time, I was in Denver, Colorado, and it was the very last room for the day that I was going to walk into. And I walked into this room, and there was this little boy with blond hair. He was eight years old, and his name was Chase, and he was sitting in his wheelchair, and he talked to me for roughly 15 minutes through his I-Pad, for he couldn’t talk. And so, he told me about his dog’s name, what his favorite color was, what his hobbies were, what he ate that morning. We talked for awhile, and he continued to tell me that he was going to try to take his first steps that day. So, I asked Chase, and I asked his father, who was there as well, if they wouldn’t mind if I stayed. And his Dad said yes and Chase said yes, as well. And Dad pulled out his phone to film for Mom. And they put Chase in this almost harness on this treadmill. And it faced the back wall, so we couldn’t see Chase’s face, but, as they put him in this harness, these nurses on either side of him guided him, as he took his first steps as an eight year old. And we couldn’t see his face, but we just heard him laughing. And, then as he turned around, it was the most joy I’ve seen radiate from a human being in my entire life. And it reminded me of two things -- of how important it is and how blessed we are to walk, but also how crucial and how important it is to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

 “And that’s exactly what you all are doing here tonight. And that’s exactly what this facility here is doing in your community. It’s being a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s influencing the people around you. It’s impacting the culture of your community, inspiring others to be a part of something, to dream big, to dare greatly, and to dream and be excited about it. Yes, we’re going to have those insecurities, and yes we’re going to have those fears. But it’s so important and it’s crucial to be a part of something bigger.

“I’m a really firm believer that we’re all given gifts, and it’s our duty to find what those gifts are, find what sets our soul on fire, and love people with it. That is one of the things that I have learned most this year, when I’ve been across the country, and I’ve seen people like Jay Pitts, and I’ve seen places like this, and I’ve seen audiences like this, when you are recognizing how great of a facility like this is and how important it is to be a part of facilities and part of organizations like this in your community, to be a part of something bigger and to be a part of something greater than yourself, and giving back is beyond important.

“I hope and I pray that I have represented you all well this year, and I hope and I pray that I represent you all well in the next 24 days of being Miss America. Thank you all so much.”

“Miss America Savvy Shields," said Costner. "Absolutely. Please stand and give her a round of applause. She is absolutely incredible. Thank you so much, Savvy. for all that you’ve done and all that you’re going to."


Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields of Arkansas with Pickens County Council Chair Roy Costner at the grand opening of The Pickens County Performing Arts Center
.



Slideshow photographs below by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine
Dial then spoke to the audience about the Children’s Miracle Network and its partnership with the Miss America organization. South Carolina, she said, has ranked number one as the top CMN fundraiser in Miss America for the past five years. “Absolutely deserves a round of applause,” she said. “The leadership of the Miss South Carolina organization -- they are here tonight, and we thank them for leading us and helping us be that number one in raising those funds for the children in Greenville Children’s Hospital and all across this state.

“We have a little bit of a video to show you just how important this partnership is.”

In the video were words of welcome from Miss South Carolina 2017 Suzi Roberts. “What a privilege it is to be here at the opening of the Pickens County Performing Arts Center. Tonight’s showcase is Dream Big. It’s more than just about having dreams. It’s about giving dreams. As a part of the Miss America organization, I have been able to work with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and see firsthand how they create opportunities for children’s dreams to come true. Tonight is an opportunity for all of us to give back and be a part of dreaming big. I hope that you will consider making a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Greenville Children’s Hospital. Together, we can make a difference.”

“She was crowned Miss South Carolina just a few months ago,” said Dial. “She was the overall talent award winner, and she’s going to go to Miss America. She was also the number one raiser of funds for Children Miracle Network in the nation on a local level, and we are so excited to have her here tonight. Please help me welcome to the stage, Miss South Carolina 2017 Suzi Roberts.”

Dial asked Roberts to explain to the audience about preparation for the Miss America pageant and what it has meant to her.

“We’re really lucky in South Carolina,” said Roberts, “because the competition is so strong, that we’re expected to show up ready to compete on the Miss America stage when we show up for Miss South Carolina. And that can be credited to all of the other women who competed in the state. I truly do believe that they have pushed me. And that’s why I wanted to compete in the first place. So, I felt ready the minute that crown was placed on my head, and I was able to start working and pursuing my goals with my platform right away. Also, getting an entirely new wardrobe --- that’s been fun. But I feel relaxed going into Miss America, because I truly do believe that I have the best leadership, and I have loved getting to know them. I’ve loved getting to work with every single volunteer within this organization. And I just feel so much love and support, and I can’t wait to represent this state.”

“We know that the partnership between Children’s Miracle Network and Miss America is so important,” said Dial, “and part of that is why we’re here tonight. Of course, we’re here to present the brand new Pickens County Performing Arts Center, but also to help raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network as well as the Miss America Scholarship Fund and the Miss South Carolina Scholarship Fund. Those funds allow women like you and me to go and compete at Miss America, to help save lives at our local children’s hospital, but also I think you, like me, will get to graduate from college 100 percent debt free because of the money that this organization provides. Tell us a little about what you’re going to do post Miss America and all of those dreams.”

“I have deferred from the University of South Carolina School of Law for a year,” said Roberts, who was celebrating her 24th birthday that evening. “And now that I do have this extra year, to kind of figure out exactly what I’m going to do, I’m going to apply to get my Master’s in social work with a focus on socioeconomic development at the same time.”

“Thank you so much, Suzi. We have a little bit of a treat for the audience. Suzi is going to show us her dance that she has prepared for Miss America, the dance that she will take to the Miss America stage and wow the judges, and we just can’t wait to see all that you do on the Miss America stage to represent the Miss South Carolina
legacy and all that you are as a person. So here she is, Miss South Carolina 2017 Suzi Roberts.”
 
After Roberts’ dance, Dial, said, “I think that she is going to do so well at Miss America. We can’t wait to see what you do at Miss America. We’re so proud of you. Thank you for your beautiful dance. We can’t wait to see that on live television from Atlantic City.

We also have another special guest,” said Dial. “We have another teeny tiny princess to welcome to the stage. So let’s take a look.”

A video was shown of eight-year-old Riley Fincher-Foster at the time she was five years of age and explaining what it was like to live with Type 1 diabetes.

“Help me welcome to the stage the cutest princess I’ve ever seen in my life, Miss Riley Fincher-Foster,” said Dial.

 “Tell them what your dream is,” Dial said, after Foster had come upon stage.

“My dream is to share all the gifts that God has given me and to be on Broadway,” said the eight year old.

“Tell them what it’s like to live with Type 1 diabetes,” said Dial.

“Well, I love to act and to sing, and I love to play soccer, but it’s really hard to do all those things with Type 1. Sometimes, when I’m on the soccer field, I come off, and my Dad’s on the sideline, and he has my meter all ready for me to check.”

“A lot of people may not know this, but, when I was Miss South Carolina, my platform was Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, because my older brother is a Type 1 diabetic, and he wasn’t diagnosed until he was 19. You were how old when you were diagnosed?”

“I was four years old when I was diagnosed,” said Fincher-Foster.

“She’s going to sing for us,” said Dial. “Here she is, future Broadway star, Riley Fincher-Foster.”

 After Fincher-Foster’s first song, Dial told her, “Thank you for sharing that beautiful gift with us. I’m going to get your autograph. One more round of applause.”

              Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine                       

Riley Fincher-Foster, age 8, with Miss South Carolina 2015 Daja Dial



Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Riley Fincher-Foster, age 8, sings at the grand opening of The Pickens County Performing Arts Center.


Slideshow photographs below by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine


 Dial then asked Pickens County Council Chair Roy Costner, Miss South Carolina Suzi Roberts, and Miss America Savvy Shields to again come upon stage, and Costner asked Ashley Byrd, President of the Miss South Carolina Scholarship Organization to join them.

“We wanted to present this new Performing Arts Center to this county,” Dial said to Roberts, “but we also were raising funds for Children’s Miracle Network. And I know that’s so important for you, because you’ve done an amazing job on the local level. South Carolina has done an amazing job on the state level. And we want to continue that legacy with you.”

“We’re excited,” said Costner. “We’re so proud to have all of you here, and, Suzi, to send you off on your way, the community really came together. The manufacturers, the people who live here, they love the Miss South Carolina pageant, and they love you, and they wanted to give you a check for the Children’s Miracle Network, $21,880.”

Prizes, including jewelry, were given to winners of drawn raffle tickets.

“I want to say how thankful I am for County Council and for all of you that put your trust in us to create something extraordinary,” Costner told the audience. “I think we’re on our way. We’re dreaming big. These guys are helping us kick this thing off right.”



Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

South Carolina Scholarship Organization President Ashley Byrd, Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields, Pickens County Council Chair Roy Costner, Miss South Carolina 2017 Suzi Roberts, and Miss South Carolina 2015 Daja Dial.



Riley Fincher-Foster returned to the stage to sing “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” written by Mack David, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston.

"A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep
In dreams you will lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling through
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true "


“You are absolutely phenomenal,” Costner told her. 

“She is wonderful. You talk about the dreams and the wishes. I can’t tell you how much I thank you. And I want to thank Daja Dial. She’s working on her dream, too. She’s got a new business she’s opening up in Clemson.”

He then thanked all of the audience for attending and invited everyone to the adjoining McKissick Center.

It was later announced that the grand total raised was $22,830.



Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Riley Fincher-Foster sings at the grand opening of The Pickens County Performing Arts Center.



Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Riley Fincher-Foster sings at the grand opening of The Pickens County Performing Arts Center.


Slideshow photographs below by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine