The Pageland Chamber of Commerce began in the 1970s, but its roots can be traced back to several earlier organizations. The organizations from which it evolved include primarily the Pageland Merchants Association, which coordinated the Watermelon Festival in the 1950s. The town also had a Junior Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees Chapter, during the 1960s and 1970s.
Seeking to promote business interests in the community, a group of merchants and businessmen formed the Pageland Chamber of Commerce on October 24, 1977.Those in attendance elected R.C. Campbell as chamber president. A steering committee was chosen to draft by-laws and nominate other officers and directors. Members of the steering committee were Bill Funderburke, Mrs. Eugene Jordan, John Nichols, Wayne Haas, Ogden Sutton, Farris Pigg, Brian Hough, Jerry Teal, and Ben Outen.
At a meeting on November 17, 1977, the following officers and directors were elected: President, R.C Campbell; 1st Vice-President, John Nichols; 2nd Vice-President, Wayne Haas; Secretary-Treasurer, Herb Leaird; and Directors, Lee Youngblood, Bill Gibson, Farris Pigg, David Pigg, Bob Nussman, and Robbie Robertson. The president stated that the primary duty of the chamber is “to sound a positive note about the town of Pageland”. He also said the chamber should remain nonprofit and nonpartisan.
One of the projects undertaken by the new Pageland Chamber of Commerce was to have Pageland certified as a GREAT town. GREAT stands for Governor’s Rural Economic Achievement Trophy. This state program was designed to help towns promote themselves to industry prospects. Pageland achieved GREAT Town status in 1981. Road signs still proclaim Pageland as a “GREAT Town” and the GREAT Town trophy is on display at the Pageland Community Library.
Indeed, the Chamber of Commerce has remained active in community life. In the 1990s, the Chamber sponsored a downtown renovation project under the S.C. Downtown Development Association. Although the Watermelon Festival itself was coordinated by a special committee for a period of years, the Chamber continued to support events held in connection with the jamboree. The Chamber sponsored the Melon Mile relay race, in which running teams race through downtown Pageland along the parade route carrying watermelons. The Watermelon Festival itself, although a Chamber event, is coordinated now by the Pageland Watermelon Festival Committee.