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History of the Okra Strut

Thanks to Lexington Medical Center and our other sponsors, the Irmo Okra Strut Festival is a free festival open to the community. We are celebrating our 50th year of operation in 2024.

Check out the full story of the Okra Strut!


The Lake Murray-Irmo Woman's Club

Since forming in 1961, the Lake Murray-Irmo Woman's Club has been dedicated to improving the local community. Their outreach became the foundation of the annual Okra Strut. In the early 1970’s, the Woman’s Club set out to raise funds for building a library in Irmo. The large amount of funds required for a new library made it a daunting task for the Lake Murray-Irmo Woman's Club.

Inspiration from Gene McKay

The Woman's Club found fundraising inspiration in an unexpected source: the radio. One day, some of the Woman’s Club members heard a broadcast by Gene McKay, a local commentator and WIS radio personality. McKay mentioned that he had seen a downtown Irmo hardware and general store named the Ancient Irmese General Store on the corner of Fork Avenue and Woodrow Street, where Little Caesars Pizza is today on St. Andrews Road.

”What were these Ancient Irmese like?”, McKay wondered in his broadcast. “Probably short people — a farming tribe who lived off okra!” 


The First Okra Strut

McKay’s on-air musings gave the Woman’s Club the solution they needed for their fundraising program. Later that same year in October, the Woman’s Club held a small arts and crafts fair at Seven Oaks Park that they dubbed, “The Okra Strut”. The Club began the long-standing tradition of frying up okra for the fundraiser to benefit the library fund. Seven years and thousands of servings of fried okra later, the Woman’s Club had finally raised enough money to fund Irmo’s first library, located on St. Andrews Road.

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