A Plethora of Arts, Crafts, Exhibits, Food, Fun & Drink Surround Annual Festival
By Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
There are the high profile events during the Southeastern Wildlife Expo (SEWE) that usually catch everyone's fancy. Outdoor types, hunters, and families with kids seem to gravitate to the Dock Dogs competition, the Birds of Prey and reptile demonstrations as well as Chef's Demo's taking place in in Marion Square. Still others enjoy Fly Fishing Demo's, the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, and the always entertaining wildlife guru Jack Hanna.
Aside from smaller private events, a lot of the focus year in and year out seems to be on Brittlebank Park, Gaillard, and Marion Square which just happens to be situated in the center of downtown Charleston. There are a few events that happen outside the confines of downtown Charleston but primarily the central point to SEWE centers on the demos and shopping that happens at Marion Square, Gaillard & Brittlebank.
But in case you didn't know there is a whole lot more taking place if you only care to stray a little off the beaten path. You'll discover interesting exhibits at several Charleston County libraries, art & fashion shows at locals hotels. The Omar Shrine Temple over on Patriots Point and the Charleston Visitor's Center on Meeting Street provide the backdrop for several parties and soirees.
Perhaps the most often overlooked venue is the Belmond Hotel at Charleston Place. One of the premier destinations on the peninsula, Charleston Place is one of the premier locations for SEWE. The entire second floor of the renowned hotel is over-run with a plethora of SEWE exhibits pertaining to wildlife art, hunting, fishing, and unique shopping opportunities. Among the vendors are Grady Ervin & Co. gentlemen clothiers, Smithey Ironware, and Custom Finger Print jewelry from Christina Jervey.
Inside their main ball room and the accompanying atrium you'll discover dozens and dozens of artisans offering up everything from wildlife paintings created from oils, chalk, and a variety of natural substances. From outdoor landscapes to vivid animal imagery, there is something for everyone while strolling the indoor aisles. Over 90 artists on display.
By far the core of all the activities centers around Marion Square. It is the epi-center for die hard nature lovers, pet friendly families, and the those who just love to enjoy a great social atmosphere. A good mix of food & drink, shopping, exhibits, seminars, and live music. When mother nature cooperates like she is this weekend its just fun to be at Marion Square.
At the Square you'll love the Taste where you'll find ElJay Pretzels out of Pawley's Island, where they give careful attention to their signature hand twisted pretzels and bites. Ideal for snacks, dipping or as many restaurants do, a base for a burger or sandwich. McCall Farms out of Ellingham SC, is one of the souths premier canners of fruits and vegetables. Visit them inside the Taste.
Be sure to drop by Burnt & Salty by Bob Cook and Cris Miller. Their table will wake up your taste buds, as you'll sample a medley of spicy mustards and glazes ideal as condiments or layered on chicken wings. So many possibilities.
If you have a sweet tooth I recommend visiting Edisto Gold Honey where you can enjoy all natural honey and bee pollen, as well as pick up several aromatic soaps. Right across the way there is Caroline's Cakes out of Spartanburg, famous for their 7 layer cake and their one of a kind caramel cake. Their bites are sinfully delicious.
Drop by the Hooch It Up and sample some of their signature mixers that apparently do well in rum, vodka, tequila, champagne, and energy drinks. Born out of the Chattanooga River, Hooch is an ideal blend of real limes, real sugar and natural flavors. Another wake up the palate destination location.
Seaside Grown harvests some of God's greatest tomato crops on St. Helena Island. They have a booth inside the Taste where they have prepared some awesome sauces, but near the square entrance at Meeting & Calhoun they have their own tent where they are crafting Bloody Mary's made from vine ripe tomatoes and their own bloody mary mix. Freakin' awesome.
Covered In Cotton is a textile business with a cause. Birthed out of Woodland Farms in Darlington SC, Covered In Cotton is a proud manufacturer of fine cotton products. Purchase their well crafted throws and they will donate a portion back to local children's hospitals. Talk about covering with care.
If you've got a real hunger at Marion Square there's a variety of food trucks backed up to King Street. Have an awesome burger at Rolling South, or find an eclectic menu from Camby Catering. Greek and Mediterranean food lovers will enjoy Zeus Grill & Seafood. If Bloody Mary's aren't your drink of choice, don't worry there is a ice cold beer station centered on the square.
Top it all off at The Holy City Cupcakes, where they well known for cheesecake, gourmet cupcakes, cake pops, and assorted specialty beverages. Do yourself a favor and get the Caramel Salted Mocha or the Tiramisu. Hell yeah they have gluten free options.
While there are many vendors selling hand crafted furniture, clothing, and other unique items, be sure to visit the Conservation Village where you'll learn more about eco-friendly organizations, including U.S. Fish & Wildlife, the Friends of Coastal South Carolina, Southern Conservation Trust, and Charleston Waterkeeper celebrating 10 years of cleaning South Carolina's waterways.
The Southeastern Wildlife Expo is the first weekend festival kicking off the festival season in the low country. With ten of thousands of people coming to Charleston, it sets the tone for those coming soon after, and there are many. For nature and outdoor lovers, or those who just love to get out and support our great community, SEWE is just a fun expo. For more visit https://sewe.com/