FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Florence Esports festival started Friday at the Florence Center.

Schools from across the United States came to the area to compete in the Peach Belt Conference, Collegiate Open Event, and the Carolina Games Summit.

Nathan Dawsey, Florence County’s Parks and Recreation director, said that in previous years, teams have come from as far as Hawaii to compete in the tournaments. The Peach Belt alone brings more than 16 teams each year for its two tournaments.

The tournament featured food vendors, virtual reality, and even a cheering section.

Dawsey said in the past two years, the festival has raised almost a million dollars and that organizers hope to build on that this year.

“Besides coming here and watching some great gameplay from the Peach Belt Collegiate Conference,” Dawsey said. “Again, we’ll have some participants playing at ‘Stay Plugged in” for the high school recruiting showcase, but there’s also a ton of free play area for kids or anyone just to come on in and jump on a machine.”

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Aundrea Gibbons joined the News13 team in May 2023 after graduating from Clemson University with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication. Aundrea is a Marion native and graduated as salutatorian in 2019. Follow Aundrea on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here.