Thousands of people are expected to attend the Carolina Country Music Fest – which many have called the kickoff to the summer – and with the increase of visitors in town, officials have put traffic plans in place to help people move around.
Myrtle Beach police spokesman Lt. Joey Crosby said the goal is for those attending the three-day music festival and those who are just in town to visit for the weekend to have a safe, enjoyable experience.
The festival, which will take place on the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion property, will be fenced in within the area from the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade to Kings Highway and from Eighth Avenue North to Ninth Avenue North – including Ocean Boulevard.
A portion of traffic plans, such as road closures, go into effect at 9:30 a.m. Friday and will be in place until sometime Monday after organizers have removed all of the festival equipment.
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Bob Durkin, president of Full House Productions, encourages those coming to the festival to use taxis and Uber services as much as possible to help with what is expected to be a difficult weekend to find parking.
Durkin said he is looking forward to a great weekend, adding that the forecast for rain is not dampening his outlook.
“What I’ve heard about the beach is that if it rains at all, it’s only for a short period,” he said. “I don’t think it will deter people from coming. People are used to it. Plus, sometimes the forecast calls for scattered storms and you don’t get a drop of rain. I’m not worried.”
Here’s a list of things to know if trying to get to the Carolina Country Music Fest or just move around downtown this weekend:
▪ Gates open at 6 p.m. Thursday for the kickoff concert featuring Sam Hunt. Gates open at noon on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
▪ Road closures begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday. Closed roads include Ocean Boulevard between Eighth and Ninth avenues North; Eighth Avenue North from Ocean Boulevard to Kings Highway; and the eastbound lane of Ninth Avenue North from Ocean Boulevard to Kings Highway.
▪ There will be no road closures Thursday.
▪ Traffic traveling north on Ocean Boulevard will be turned onto Seventh Avenue North. All traffic heading west on Seventh Avenue North will have to turn right at Kings Highway.
▪ Kings Highway traffic headed north will go to one lane, the left lane, starting around Sixth Avenue North. That will allow traffic leaving Seventh Avenue North to continuously turn onto Kings Highway. There will be arrow signs to make motorists aware of the lane shift.
▪ Crosby expects traffic changes on Kings Highway to be in place from about 11 a.m. to about midnight on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but adding that timing will depend on when the traffic becomes heavy.
▪ Southbound Ocean Boulevard traffic will be turned west at Ninth Avenue North.
▪ There will be two officers on Kings Highway at Eighth and Ninth avenues North controlling the traffic lights to help traffic flow.
▪ There will be no changes to traffic on U.S. Highway 501, though there will be message boards in place to encourage drivers to use Grissom Parkway, U.S. Highway 17 Bypass, and S.C. Highway 31 if they don’t have to go downtown.
▪ There will be event staff along Seventh Avenue North at Flagg Street, York Street and Chester Street to help visitors get access to hotels and businesses between Seventh and Eighth avenues North.
▪ There will be a taxi and Uber stand at 10th Avenue North and Chester Street behind the Pavilion Parking Garage.
▪ Carolina Country Music Fest is offering parking Friday to Sunday at the former Myrtle Square Mall site between 23rd and 27th avenues North between Oak Street and Kings Highway and shuttle service to the festival. Cost for shuttle service is $50 per person and good for all three days (price goes up to $60 per person day of the concert) and will be charged whether or not drivers park on the mall site. More information on CCMF’s parking is available at www.carolinacountrymusicfest.com/shuttle-pass.
▪ Myrtle Beach City Council is allowing businesses and churches to charge people to park on their property in the area near the festival.
▪ Entry wristbands can be picked up at Ground Zero, 904 Chester St. The festival is a cash-free event, with entry to the concerts and all purchases made by swiping the wristband at the kiosks. Entry gates are on Ninth Avenue North at Chester Street.
▪ Those walking along Ocean Boulevard will be directed around the festival site at Eighth and Ninth avenues North. They can walk on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade or, if they choose, walk along Kings Highway.
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.