Hampton County

Watermelon Capital

Once mapped as “Indian Lands,” this county of deep forests, swamps, and ponds is today famous to many sportsmen, hunters and fishermen for its exceptional hunting grounds and excellent river and creek fishing.

Not only does the Lowcountry offer one of the longest hunting seasons in the country, it also contains the largest whitetailed deer populations in the state.

Evidence of this area’s first residents, the native Indians can still be seen through such fascinating river names as the Salkehatchie, the Combahee and the Coosawhatchie. Hunting for Indian artifacts is a popular pastime, especially over a freshly plowed field after a good rain where many an arrowhead or pottery shard can be discovered.

The town of Hampton is the county seat, named after General Wade Hampton, an important Civil War military leader and former state governor. Hampton, along with its sister town of Varnville are the hosts of the annual Hampton County Watermelon Festival, South Carolina’s oldest continuing festival dating back to 1939. Hampton County is a major producer of watermelons in the state and each June over 60,000 visitors come to help celebrate and enjoy this delicious summertime crop.

Yemassee, just one mile off Interstate 95, hosts an annual Shrimp Festival in September, celebrating the abundance of shrimp caught locally each year and featuring a boat parade, kiddie rides and unique shrimp cuisine. Furman, Estill and Gifford are hosts to spring, summer and fall festivals. Brunson is host to a “Fun Day” for you and Varnville celebrates with a “Day in the Park.”

Recreation abounds at Lake Warren State Park, a 1,390 acre fishing, boating and picnic area. Nature lovers can view alligators and water birds from the pier or along the lake’s edge.

Other attractions throughout this county of friendly rural towns are farms and numerous antebellum plantation homes, historic churches and cemeteries.

Unique sights to see include the Webb Wildlife Center, Hampton’s town and county museums (both in historic buildings), and the town of Varnville which was the setting for 1930s scenes from the movie “Forrest Gump.” The Hampton Museum & Visitors Center is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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