Conway notebook | Graffiti artist may become cleaning lady

sjones@thesunnews.comDecember 16, 2012 

— It’s hard to say who is more offended by graffiti along Conway’s Riverwalk, photographer Kelly Fentress or Foster Hughes, the city’s director of parks, recreation and tourism.

“I don’t usually get on my soapbox on my business page,” Fentress wrote when she posted her photos of the graffiti early Thursday afternoon, “however, this time I need help from locals.”

When Hughes learned about the graffiti Friday morning, he immediately dispatched crews to the scene to clean up the walk. He said that “Merry Christmas” had been written on the walk in chalk and it was washed off. Some graffiti on one of the columns supporting the bridge over the Waccamaw River has been painted over.

Fentress said the Riverwalk’s Lower River Warehouse – where the Conway Kayak Company has taken up residence – has been defaced on its river side with a number of names and phrases Fentress believes were done by other photographers. They would use the graffiti in photographs they took of people, Fentress said.

She said she contacted one photographer after she discovered some of the graffiti in photographs on the photographer’s website. Fentress said the photographer became very defensive and shut down her Facebook page for a couple of days. When it came back online, the photos were gone, Fentress said.

Fentress said she plans to share her evidence with Larry Biddle, president of the Jerry Cox Co., which owns the company.

The warehouse and other buildings along the Riverwalk and under the bridge are what remains of an important part of Conway’s history. They were built in the latter part of the 19th century to service paddlewheelers that would transport lumber and other things downriver from Conway.

They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Biddle said he was aware of the graffiti and had planned to pay someone to clean it up.

But there’s another possibility, he said.

“Maybe we can get whoever did it to clean it off,” Biddle said.

Downtown goes to the dogs

Entrants in this year’s Canine Christmas Costume Contest in downtown Conway will have more motivation than trying, once again, to upset Dixie – the pooch that has won the title both years the contest has been held.

This year the Travel Channel will film the goings-on and plans to air it during next year’s holiday season as one of the top 25 Christmas traditions in the U.S.

Conway Downtown Alive has developed and overseen the events that take place every Thursday during December. But there are more holiday events than that, which annually turn the River City into the Christmas City.

There is also the St. Nicholas Winterfest sponsored by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to raise money that it distributes among local nonprofits.

But back to Dixie, an 8-year-old brown boxer owned by Kelli Howell.

In the past, Dixie has been costumed as Santa pulling a sleigh and as a living display of everything Christmas, according to Downtown Alive Executive Director Hillary Howard.

Howell said this year will be Dixie’s third straight victory, and she’s so confident of winning that she’s not shy to say how her dog will be costumed.

“Dixie’s going to be a reindeer this year,” Howell said.

And she will have a stuffed Santa riding on her back.

Howell said she has no plans to retire Dixie, gracefully bowing out and giving other canines a chance at the spotlight, if she completes a trifecta in Thursday’s competition..

But she fears that Downtown Alive may try to outflank her.

“Maybe next year they’ll make me a judge,” Howell said.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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