There are a multitude of options for outdoors enthusiasts along the Grand Strand and South Carolina coast, from boating, fishing, hunting and camping in environments from saltwater to freshwater to the backwoods.
With all those possibilities in mind, the Grand Strand Boat & Sportsman Expo is in the second year of a state of transition.
Elizabeth Cooper of Cooper Communications, the event’s promoter, says it’s full-steam ahead into other areas of the Great Outdoors, not just boating and fishing.
“The Lowcountry and coastal region of the Carolinas lends itself to all sorts of outdoor life and activities,” Cooper said. “Instead of just focusing on the boats, we thought it would be a great idea to talk about all the outdoor life we are blessed with here promote the beautiful resources we have here and let people know what all is accessible right in their own backyards.”
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Relatively new to South Carolina is a public alligator hunt, which was implemented in the Palmetto State by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources in 2008. New to the expo is the appearance of the Swampmaster Alligator Show, featuring Jeff Quattrocchi, who has 14 years experience at handling gators.
“Jeff puts on a very entertaining show but also is around his display in between shows to take photos with the small alligators, answer questions and educate [about alligators],” Cooper said.
Quattrocchi will have proof of how tricky the business of gator handling is – in the form of a large scar on his right arm from a 2010 show that went wrong in New Port Richey, Fla.
For the second straight year, vendors at the 29th annual expo will be more varied and attractive to a wider range of attendees.
“We have everything from the Coleman Factory Stores with outdoor supplies to a kayak dealer to local fishing supply stores, hunting experts, Coastal Conservation Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, S.C. Department of Natural Resources – education as well as entertainment,” Cooper said. “We are excited about the variety of vendors this year and think we have things to interest all ages, male and female.”
A superb line-up of seminars is on tap all three days, headlined by eight appearances by The Swampmaster.
Other seminar subjects will cover numerous aspects of saltwater fishing by local captains, kayak fishing, duck calling and cast nets.
The 29th annual event is setup Friday through Sunday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for children ages 3-18 and free for children under three.
Cooper also noted that parking at the convention center will be free this year.
Free classes will be held on Saturdays at the Orvis Store in The Market Common in Myrtle Beach later this month and in February. Dates are Jan. 19 and 26 and Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23 with all classes held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Space is limited. Call (843) 839-6900 for more information.
The Seacoast Anglers Association will meet Jan. 21, 6:30 p.m. at the VFW Post 10804, located at the intersection of Hwy. 57 and Hwy. 9 in Little River. The guest speaker is Richard Neal, of the Frying Pan Tower. Neal will give a presentation on the history and the future of the renowned offshore structure.