By Jamie Preston
On a summer afternoon in 1981, several rednecks were draped across the bar at the local watering hole, The Esso Club. This was a gas station in town that also happened to sell beer...in fact, the beer sales soon outgrew the gas sales. The Standard Oil Company had long since changed the name of their flagship gasoline brand to Exxon, but I don't think any one at the Esso Club noticed. Or maybe they didn't care. OOPS! Sorry! I'm digressing...
Anyway, this bunch of Good Ole Boys was hanging out at the Esso Club and the discussion wound its way around to Spoleto, the Festival of the Performing Arts that is held annually in Charleston, SC. We allowed as how this might be fine for some folks, but we didn't much care to see a bunch of guys prancing around on stage wearing tights or singing in Italian. You can't even CLOG to that kinda music! We figured that what we needed was a festival of the REDNECK performing arts, with music performed on electric guitars and banjos and other REAL instruments. And we needed to show that bunch what a REAL performance was like. Spitting tobacco juice out past the 20-foot mark ain't as easy as it sounds. I'll bet not one of those guys in the tights could beat FOUR feet!
Out of that slightly alcohol-clouded session, an idea was born. One of the participants lived within crawling distance of the Esso Club, so we stumbled off to his house to make our plans. We decided that this was gonna cost some cash, so we figured we'd sell some t-shirts. We found someone who would provide the shirts for $4 apiece, and we were gonna sell them for $5 apiece. We were gonna buy 300 of them. One of the group jumped up and announced that he was gonna figure out how much we were going to make. We tried to tell him that we already had it figured, but Earl was on a mission, and there was no stopping him. He grabbed a calculator and a pencil and a piece of paper and went off in search of a table. Earl punched some stuff into the calculator. Then he wrote something on the paper. Then back to the calculator. Then back to the paper. He sharpened his pencil. Back to the calculator. After around 45 minutes of this, we had just about forgotten what Earl was doing. Finally, he jumped to his feet and proudly announced that we were gonna make $714.32! He's been "Algebra Earl" ever since.
In spite of Algebra Earl, we got the first SPITOONO off the ground. Bands came and played for free, and people showed up. All the t-shirts were sold. When all was said and done, we had some money left over, so we picked a local charity to give it to. And it's been going that way ever since.
SPITOONO was once held in the parking lot of the Esso Club, and the dancers would do-si-do around the gas pumps. It has since outgrown that splendid facility and is now held at the Clemson, SC, National Guard Armory ball field. ALL proceeds go to charity. There is NO ADMISSION! If you want to come down and listen to the free music all evening and not buy a thing, that's fine with us. We don't allow coolers on the festival grounds, however, so you might wanna buy a coke or beer or something. Blankets, lawn chairs, Harleys, children and dogs are welcome. The T-shirts are FABULOUS if you want to buy one (again, all the proceeds go to charity).
If ya don't know where Clemson, SC is, I'll include a link to some maps,in case you want to find your way here.
Oh yeah...there's PLENTY of PICKUP TRUCK PARKING!