Southern Agenda

Palmetto State Parties

Early spring in South Carolina brings blooming dogwoods and azaleas, spring break sunshine, and events that highlight the essence of the state. Start in Charleston at the annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (February 16–18), where some of the country’s leading sporting artists, including plein air painter Kathleen Dunphy, exhibit their works, while outside in the Holy City’s parks, birds of prey flash their feathers, Orvis anglers demonstrate their casting know-how, and sporting pups take flight at the fan-favorite DockDogs Competitions. Then, March 7–9, buy tickets at the door of the Spanish Galleon in North Myrtle Beach to watch the most decorated shaggers in the world pivot, belly roll, and boogie walk across the dance floor at the fortieth annual National Shag Dance Championships. “A lot of former winners over the past forty years will be there competing,” says organizer Barry Thigpen. “And after the elimination rounds, Saturday night will be the cream of the crop.” Next, in the Midlands, the eighty-ninth Carolina Cup (March 30) attracts crowds in colorful frocks and fascinators to Camden for a day of tailgating before the horses line up in the paddock for a slate of exhilarating steeplechase races. Toby Edwards, the executive director of the Carolina Cup Racing Association, says, “I like to call it South Carolina’s largest outdoor cocktail party—that happens to have championship horse racing in the afternoon.”