Two of the best-known aspects of Coastal Carolina are the sandy beaches and scrumptious Southern dishes which make our area a perfect place to dine and a perfect place to unwind.
What's often left out however, is a key third element of local culture that will come into focus this weekend: Boogying.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the Omar Shriners will hold the 6th annual Beach, Boogie and BBQ Festival, an event which combines all three aspects to create a Labor Day Weekend celebration unlike any other on the Grand Strand.
Kicking off Friday and running through Sunday evening the three-day event will take place at Grand Park at The Market Common and will be chock-full of activities from start to finish.
“We are excited about this year’s lineup of activities and pleased to provide a free, family-friendly event for locals and visitors to celebrate Labor Day weekend again," said Amie Lee, director of festivals and special events for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. "The chamber values its partnership with the Omar Shriners and we are thrilled to extend the festival to Sunday with new activities this year!”
Kicking off the musical offerings Friday will be local party band Tru Sol playing the main stage in Grand Park from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m., followed by legendary Beach Music act The Tams from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
The biggest day of music will be Saturday, with live music from Noon to 9:30 p.m. Headlining the event this year will be country music artist Josh Gracin (read full interview here), former finalist on American Idol season two. Gracin will take the main stage Saturday at 8 p.m. for a free concert featuring tracks from two successful albums and his upcoming effort "Redemption" which will be released in September.
Other performances include variety act Liquid Platinum (noon), Gospel group Envision (1:45 p.m) and Beach-y bands Atlantic Groove (3:30 p.m.) and Jim Quick & Coastline (6 p.m.).
Sunday, the fun will continue with another afternoon of live acts from noon to 5 p.m. Blues band Cortez & The Killers will kick off the day, followed by shagger favorites Mark Robert & Breeze at 1:45 p.m and the versatile Necessary Band at 3:30 p.m.
New this year is the Wing-A-Palooza wing eating competition scheduled for Sunday at 1:15 p.m.
The festival opens Friday with an “Anything Goes” cooking competition where, you guessed it, teams are welcome to try anything. Samples are available for $1.
Of course, the main attraction is the finger-lickin, lip-smackin' good food and lots of it from food vendors and competitors. The local Shriners chapter is spearheading the barbecue part of the festival.
“It’s growing every year,” said Omar Shriners 1st vice president Kenny Craven. “The entertainment has a lot to do with it, and [the chamber has] managed to bring in some great names. People come out to hear that kind of stuff and we’ll feed them.”
Attendees can sample delicious barbecue from all competing teams on Saturday beginning at 12 p.m. by purchasing a $10 wristband. Kids 10 and under can sample for free.
The South Carolina Barbecue Association’s barbecue championship will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturday. Guests are welcome to come watch as teams from around the region prepare chicken, ribs and whole hogs for judging.
It’s organized by the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) and is considered a state championship; the winner goes on to compete for a national crown.
Craven estimates anywhere from 50-60 teams will compete for best barbecue in four separate categories: chicken, brisket, ribs and pork. Each category’s winning team will receive $1,000 and the grand champion (best overall finisher) will get an additional $1,500.
On Sunday attendees can enjoy a wide variety of wings and look on as hungry competitors challenge each other in a wing 'eat-off'. Kids will do the same in a watermelon eating contest that follows. Lots of great prizes await the winners, as well as free watermelon for all attendees at 2 p.m.
In addition to the playing and provisions provided for attendees, there will also be plenty to do in the form of activities.
The will be a Kidz Zone with inflatable and other games, beer and wine gardens for sampling, tons of arts and crafts vendors, and fireworks to close out the fun Saturday night.
A celebrity meet-and-greet with the Bravo’s Top Chef: Season 4 contestant and winner Richard Blais will be held Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.
Off the grass and into the water at nearby Grand Park lake, wakeboarding demonstrations will commence each day.
Island Adventure Watersports will put on a show for the second straight year at 7 p.m. Friday, 2, 4 and 6 p.m. Saturday and at 1 and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
“We have local wakeboarders that really enjoy doing it who come from out of town to do this,” said Charlie Mize, co-owner of the Myrtle Beach-based watersport company.
He said they had the opportunity to come put on a show at the last two Sun Fun Festivals and last year’s Beach, Boogie and BBQ.
This year they will have the “splash zone,” an area the wakeboarders will spray with a carve.
Mize said the demonstrators will execute a maneuver known as a “boat-O” where the slalom skier actually whips around the front of the boat and completes a full circle.
“It’s not everyday you get to see something like that,” Mize said. “We’re going to try some new things to really entertain the people. People seem to like that.”
Island Adventure Watersports is also bringing two pontoon boats for free boat rides on Saturday.