Archive for the ‘festival’ Category

As we took in the exhibits and demonstrations for the SEWE Saturday at Marion Square, I couldn’t help but continuously think of a solitary phrase: “What a difference a year makes.”

A year ago from Saturday, Suzanne and I were standing at the bottom of her entry staircase on Wentworth Street, the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics paused on DVR, as we marveled at a winter wonderland developing outside.  Downtown Charleston was blanketed in 1-2 inches of snowfall in one of those strange scenes you sometimes see at local restaurants that depict such an event occurring in like 1935.  The organizers of SEWE had a little bit of reorganization to contend with, not to mention a few jittery hours of attempting to project how much the cold temperatures would affect attendance.

This Saturday, the sun shone brightly, creating a near-80 degree picture of perfection for throngs of wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts to absorb the products and messages of vendors, interest groups, and magazines enveloped in what basically constituted a zoo considering how many different types of animals were gracing the square.

Speaking of animals, a year ago we stood over a pen at the Grateful Golden’s post, gazing happily and, truth be told, warily, over the…lab…puppies that were crawling around therein.  For some reason, the volunteer organization didn’t have golden retrievers the day we went but the effect was still the same, as we were a mere two weeks from adopting Finley.  I remember feeling particularly antsy that day, carefully observing the behaviors of all the dogs and their owner men/women as they traversed the crowds amidst the intense amount of stimuli that threatened to wrest the dogs from their grasp at any moment.  I was doing my homework.

This Sunday, we took our own wresting dog on an exhibition for attendees to do their homework on how NOT to control your dog in a crazy situation.  To her credit, she’s been worse–way worse.  To our credit, well, we get no credit, besides maybe sympathy points for putting on a free clinic/comedy hour.  She wasn’t the worst behaved hound in the place by a long shot though and even if she was exuberant, it was only in the name of getting an up-close and personal look at the golden/lab mix puppies gracing the large enclosed tent.

She was doing her own mentoring.



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If I had a choice on where to spend our nation’s birthday, this would be the place. To hazard a guess, sitting in one of these blue adirondack chairs on the water in Rockville enjoying good weather, good food, a bucket of brews, and great times with great friends must be akin to a heavenly experience.  Luckily for us, we have something just as good lined up for the holiday, as later today we’ll be joining the I-95 traffic nightmare to meet up with Suzanne’s family at their lake house in southern Virginia, where lots of boating awaits.  Lots of heaving a scoundrel mutt into the briny deep also awaits.

Here’s to hoping everyone has a safe and fun Independence Day and if you do happen to stay in Charleston for the holiday, here is a pretty good rundown of fireworks displays in the area.

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Saturdays during Spoleto means Marion Square becomes a confluence of omelets, eggplant, bluegrass, herbs, and art, with a side of barbeque sandwiches.  The Square is bustling on a normal summer Saturday due to the Farmers Market but with the presence of scores of local artists in for the festival, the atmosphere is beefed up considerably.  I never get tired of watching that lone individual, without fail, attempt to carry 3 or 4 different herbs, a couple of whitewashed wooden coasters, and a 9 x 14 print of a marsh, all while devouring a shrimp creole crepe.  I can’t really blame the person, though.  It’s easy to want to gorge yourself on both food and crafts.

Also, it seems Suzanne has a sudden affinity for bird art, which I find ironic considering anytime I try to take a picture of a feathered fellow, she borderline berates me with how ‘lame’ the practice is, stating “I’m not a huge fan of birds”. Uh huh.

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This has been a pretty busy weekend full of a variety of different events.  We’ve been trying to get out and take in more of what the city has to offer this spring and summer, since last summer’s weekends were marred by the specter of a “case of the Mondays” which manifested itself basically at 10 PM Saturday evening and half-ruined our Sundays.  Wow, I hated that job.

Friday, we took in some music by the Dave Matthews Tribute Band at Rockin’ on the Point, a series of concerts held on Fridays during the summer months on the man-made beach at the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina.  The event is actually a pretty good deal.  For a cheap cover charge of $5, you can enjoy a (hopefully, depending on the weekend) talented band amidst the beautiful Charleston Harbor setting.  Friday’s weather was fantastic and the band played some faithful renditions of DMB staples.  The audience was further entertained by the provocative dancing of two Taco Bell mascots, a taco and a hot sauce packet, which I assure you was not nearly as sexy as you would like to believe.  The series culminates on July 30th with a performance by my favorite local band, Crowfield.  Obviously, we will be out for that and possibly dancing with fast food mascots.

Saturday was a busy day.  We spent the majority of the afternoon at the Beer-B-Que Bash at Smoky Oak Taproom on James Island.  The event consisted of numerous representatives from breweries across the country hyping up their personal brew masterpieces outside in the restaurant’s parking lot.

No pretension here, as the vendors literally just threw up tents and a few tables and got to work serving their 6 oz. samples to the throngs of curious attendees.  It seemed like the event went over very well for both the brewers and the restaurant, which was churning out pork sandwiches and fried okra at an exceptional pace.  The trip over to JI was well worth it, as I discovered two new favorite beers that I will certainly be searching the city for in short order:  Full Sail Session Lager, a pre-Prohibition style lager, and New Holland Golden Cap Saison, a pale ale that truly tastes like summer.

Today, we’ll be taking the quick walk to King Street for the “Do the Charleston” street festival.  Portions of the street will be closed to traffic and although I am still unsure what exactly is going to be occurring, I would assume a safe bet would be ‘street vendor-y stuff’.

We also took a trip to the truly amazing river town of Rockville on Saturday, but a description of that outing will be saved for another day.  Too much to do to be sitting indoors typing about all of this fun!

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As you probably have seen, Chris is out of town leaving me with no choice but to post without him. Hope this will suffice!

Growing up, whenever my dad would head to the lake to go fishing, mom would barely let his car crank before saying “when the cat’s away the mice will play.”  It was nice to have another one of those special weekends. Despite what Chris thinks we didn’t talk about stickers, unicorns, or braiding hair at all; however we did some serious shopping.

Our strolls up King Street often end at Urban Outfitters, a family favorite due to the amazing architecture inside and out. It is now housed in what used to be the Garden Theater which opened in 1918. The Garden Theater housed a actual garden of hanging baskets and singing canaries in the entry. The store has maintained the original theater structure with balconies full of sale items and dressing rooms located on the stage. Even if you aren’t a serious shopper it is a must see next time you are in town.  Don’t forget to look up! The store has beautiful intricate molding and still maintains its lighting grid system.

Even the most girly of girls need a break occasionally, for us it was a jaunt to the Dragon Boat Festival.

We arrived with no expectations but quickly realized we had joined in on Charleston’s biggest tailgate. Teams of fans were sporting decorated tents, matching shirts, and were cheering on their teams rowing along the Ashley River while chowing down on an array of delicious smelling food.

We were lucky enough to witness one of the boats capsize, dumping its team into the river. It was quickly apparent that these boats were not made to take on water.  Once the team was rescued and the half flooded dragon boat was returned to shore the cheering and back to back races continued.  This exciting event supporting Cancer survivors will definitely make my 2011 calendar!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a guest post by my one and only sister! Caroline found a new Charleston favorite and decided she wanted to chip in and support our blog. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Because our dog is completely neglected by us, our friends, our neighbors, the mailman, the bed and breakfast owner next door, longtime residents, tourists, online news outlets, and, well, literally everyone she has ever come in contact with, we decided it would be quite a treat for her to have some social interaction and experience the wonder that is the Charleston Dog Show.  The event, held at Marion Square, is probably best described as “the happiest ~10 acres on the planet”.  Every living creature on the grounds, from dogs to dog owners and dog-fearing squirrels to I-have-no-idea-what-is-going-on earthworms, were all smiles, besides the few unfortunate souls who managed to careen their way straight into a solitary robust pile of digested Iams dogfood that was the size of a shipwrecking maelstrom.

The function was headlined by a very amateur (but fun) dog show showcasing Charleston’s best aspiring AKC contenders.  In addition, pretty much every local business having anything to do with canines was represented.  Need a dog walker?  Check.  Need a dog made out of knots from an old sailing vessel? Check (but why would you want that again?)  Finley had an absolute blast and made quite a few new friends.  For any dog lover, owner or not, I would highly recommend checking out the 2011 show.

Following the dog show, we made our way up St. Phillip Street to the Affordabike Summer Blowout only to discover that the organizers were definitely operating on “Charleston time”, which means they were very late in getting started but probably didn’t care, and, of course, we didn’t either (and had no choice in the matter regardless).  I have been in the market for a new bike for a little while now, and despite rushing to get things in order for the block party, one of the partners graciously allowed us to survey his inventory in his then-closed store and took quite a bit of time to answer my numerous questions, which guaranteed a visit from me in the near future for a purchase.

The slight change in plans had a silver lining, as we were able to check out a new coffee shop we have been hearing good things about recently, Hope and Union Coffee Co. I wouldn’t consider myself a huge coffee guy, only occasionally feeling the urge for a cup, but Suzanne absolutely loves a good coffee amidst a good coffee-drinking atmosphere.  This place practically blew her away.  It was a nicely done representation of the typical coffeehouse fare of different pressed brews, teas, high-end sodas, and local bakery productions, but we were both very impressed with the interior construction details, emphasis on treated wood, and overall feel of the place.  I can’t really explain the latter.  It wasn’t one of those places that felt “too big for its britches”, wasn’t insanely bustling, and wasn’t some place I would label with the dreaded tag of disgust:  “too emo”.  It was just relaxing.  Even Finley enjoyed this last bit, probably because we subjected her to 4 hours outdoors in the first real 80+ degrees and humid weather of the season.

Basically, we’ll go back again.  That’s probably all I needed to say.

As it turns out, Finley may not have truly been enjoying the atmosphere at Hope and Union Coffee Co.  In fact, we found out later that her slumber on the shop’s porch was indeed part of a diabolical plot for revenge against us for allowing her languish in the heat for a few hours.  This tale of vengeance, which took place during a cookout at her best friend Aspen’s house in West Ashley, will be expounded upon in the near future, after we have received the incriminating photographs from Adam and Ashley.  Until then, this foreshadowing, willow-draped photograph of a koi pond and a mongrel will have to suffice.

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After over a month and a half of non-stop weekend visits from friends, Suzanne’s sister Caroline had the honor of being our final guest for the foreseeable future, a fact that is both exciting and somewhat lamentable.  This weekend was a busy one.  It started off gloriously on Saturday morning with a bit of hilarity.  A man was attempting to ride a bike down Ashley Avenue in front of MUSC while carrying a 12-foot ladder.  What possessed him to even attempt this feat no one can be for certain.  We waited with bated breath for the inevitable tumble, which occurred probably 10 seconds after we first spotted the guy.  After falling face-first into asphalt and monkey-rolling a couple of times as the ladder bounced erratically on the ground next to him, the man ripped off his shirt and flexed his muscles in some sort of weird ‘I’m ok, but I want you to know I’m enraged’ way.  Convinced he wasn’t seriously injured, we sputtered down the road in hyperventilation.

We spent Saturday afternoon at James Island County Park, first attending a cookout and then making our way over to the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival.  I spent most of our time at the festival in a state of near salivation, as it was definitely a water-enthusiast’s dream.  Practically any form of water recreation not involving mechanical motion was on display and for a small price, you could try out the myriad of products all afternoon.  If it wasn’t for Finley’s frequent attempts to scream “Help! I’m hot!” by diving underneath the miniscule shade created by beached canoes, we might still be out there paddling away.

Following our return to the peninsula, we fought the crowds to take in the Blue Angels show over the harbor.  I actually wasn’t aware that the show was taking place this weekend until Friday, when three of the jets streaked over Cannon Park at an altitude of 100 feet, leaving me standing completely upright, gawking mouth agape while trembling.  The show was pretty spectacular, and the day as a whole would have been perfect had it not been for the sorry display of a lack of emotional fortitude by the host at Blind Tiger Pub.  After a whopping total of 3 parties of 3 people each converged on the restaurant at the same time, the host threw a conniption fit even though the situation was completely free of anything resembling stress, ordering everyone to ‘return to the front and start over one by one’.  This sadly wasn’t the first instance of this guy failing that we have witnessed.  Needless to say, we left and will probably not be patronizing the place for a while, which is a shame since we are frequent customers.

Our Sunday was spent in a fashion that is becoming a tradition when guests are in town:  lunch at Poe’s Tavern, a simple burger/chicken restaurant located on Sullivan’s Island themed after the famous author and poet who spent time serving his country at nearby Fort Moultrie, followed by an afternoon on the top deck at Red’s at Shem Creek.  From the deck, we were able to see Sunday’s Blue Angels show, a flock of pelicans emulating the jets (poorly), a performance by a family of dolphins, and a beast fight between Finley and a 7 week old Labrador retriever puppy that was observed by a woman in biker chaps who looked horrifyingly similar to the Cryptkeeper from Tales from the Crypt.  It was the first time Finley had employed her new fighting technique of ‘ram my butt into you until you just submit’ and probably the first time I looked at her as being ‘big’.  She’s growing so quickly.

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