Winyah Bay Heritage Festival, Bassmasters Elite Series draw big crowds to Georgetown Saturday

Melanie Pipkens and Kellye Duvilla, wives of Bassmaster fishermen, take time to show their adoration for a puppy from St. Frances Animal Center of Georgetown. (Photo by Clayton Stairs)

Duck calling, sheep herding and retriever demonstrations.

A magic show.

Thirty-five arts-and-crafts vendors.

All of the above were among the highlights as the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival kicked off Saturday in Georgetown.

Many Georgetown County residents who love the outdoors, as well as people from out of the area, descended upon Georgetown for the event on Saturday.

It is being held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Elite Fishing Tournament, also being held at the marine complex, and a country music concert with Jason Michael Carroll, held Saturday on Front Street and sponsored by the Georgetown Business Association.

Another day of fun is slated for Sunday, with a South Carolina Duck Calling Championship and the Bassmasters Championship as the main events.

Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach said the events have already drawn a record turnout.

“This is predicted to have an economic impact of over $1 million for the county,” Broach said. “It draws a lot of visitors, and there is a lot to see and do. It is a wonderful thing for our county on so many levels.”

Kayla Palaniuk of Idaho, Melanie Pipkens of Michigan and Kellye Duvilla of New Jersey were giving love to a black Labrador puppy from St. Frances Animal Center during the event. They were in town to support their husbands who were fishing in the tournament, but the men were cut before Saturday when the top 35 were named.

“We have enjoyed the whole event, especially all of the great vendors,”  Palaniuk said. “It is good to see the town come together to put on a show for everyone.”

Stephanie Cissa of Georgetown, who was with her 11-year-old daughter, Ella, agreed. “My favorite thing is that it brings the community together,” Cissa said. “It spotlights our town and our county.”

Michael Sprouse and his son Will, 5, from Gaffney, take a look at one of the boats on display during the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival. (Photo by Clayton Stairs)

Shannon Thompson of Tega Cay was visiting her mother, Tammy Morales, who lives in Georgetown. The wide variety of activities drew Thompson and her family to the festival. Morales said she enjoys the event every year.

“It promotes a lot for Georgetown,” she said. “I love all the vendors and booths.”

Andrews resident Gracyn Reeves, who was one of the local vendors at the event, was showcasing her wooden bead necklaces. Her mother, Christy Reeves, was there with her for support.

Gracyn said she started making the necklaces for fun and posted photos of some on her Facebook page. Soon, though, it had turned into something bigger.

“Everyone went crazy over them, and I said, ‘Hey, I can make a job out of this’,” Gracyn said. The festival and Bassmasters tournament conclude Sunday.

— Story by Clayton Stairs