Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Coastal Carolina Fair 2014-A 58 Year Old Tradition

Some notable events of 1957:
- Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and the 1st to fly in a helicopter.
- The Frisbee is renamed and nationally marketed.
- Velcro was patented by George de Mestral of Switzerland.
- 61st Boston Marathon won by John J Kelley of Connecticut in 2:20:05
- Music Man, starring Robert Preston, opens on Broadway.
- Elvis Presley emerges as one of the world's first rock star.
- Leave it to Beaver premiers on CBS.
- Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story debuts on Broadway.
- "I Love Lucy," last airs on CBS-TV.
- "American Bandstand" premieres.
- Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti comes to Charleston at the instigation of Countess Alicia Paolozzi who owns a home in the city, and begins negotiations to make Charleston the American site of Menotti's Festival of Two Worlds, later called the Spoleto Festival.
- the first Coastal Carolina Fair.

This years Coastal Carolina Fair starts October 30, 2014 and runs to November 9, 2014. Here are some photos and highlights from the 2013 fair:

I made the mistake of going to the Coastal Carolina Fair on my sandals. It was somewhat nippy on the toes after the sun made its exit, but despite my imprudent choice, I muddled through the evening warmed up by the colorful display of fair lights reflecting off the lake and the soulful country ballads of Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan.

I wouldn't of had it any other way. Sundown is when the fair takes on a personality of its own. The shadows are darker, the lights more dazzling, the sounds more raucous, and the smells more decadent. And, it was surprisingly crowded for a Monday night, at least from my perspective.

There was the usual plenty of the three reasons why people go to the fair - food, rides, and entertainment. Sorry beer lovers, one thing there won't be plenty of is beer. It is a nonalcoholic fair, but you don't need beer to have fun. This is a family-oriented event.

The lines moved swiftly and I didn't have to wait too long for anything. Oh, except when I ordered my "fish" gyro for $7, which was advertised as "new", and required a wait. Apparently not a popular choice among fair enthusiasts. The vendor had to get it out of the freezer and cook it up.

After it was sizzled in boiling oil, the vendor informed me, "It's good fish," which caused me to reflect on his words. Was he honestly convinced it was good fish or was he convincingly setting me up for disappointment? I have to say it was surprisingly not-fishy and paired with lettuce and tomato smothered in the house sauce wrapped in pita. Believe it or not, I have never eaten a regular gyro. When it comes to food, I do not venture into the unknown like an Anthony Bordain and eating fair food to me is like competing in a Survivor food challenge.

Here are just a few of the depraved oddities: fried bacon-wrapped pickles, Krispy Kreme sloppy Joes, deep-fried bubble gum, fried shrimp and grits, chicken-fried meatloaf, grilled doughnuts-on-a-stick, corn dogs, kebabs, elephant ears and the most popular food item at the Coastal Carolina Fair, turkey legs, but I am not revealing any new revelations here and the reoccurring word in this assortment is fried, fried, fried. I did see one vendor that sold vegetable dishes. There are three new fried delicacies. I will let you discover what they are for yourself- happy hunting.


Confession - before heading over to the Lakefront Stage to see Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan, I wickedly indulged in a dish of pumpkin-spice funnel cakes - $7. Enjoy the pictures, they speak a thousand words. Photos by Keri Whitaker.

You can expect much of the same and more at the 2014 Coastal Carolina Fair. This years entertainment list for the week is as follows:

Thursday October 30th - Eddie Money - 7:30 pm
Friday October 31st - Danielle Bradbery - 8:00 pm
Saturday November 1st - Big SMO - 8:00 pm
Sunday November 2nd - Swon Brothers - 5:00 pm
Monday November 3rd - The McClain Sisters - 7:30 pm
Tuesday November 4th - Hotel California, A tribute to the Eagles - 7:30 pm
Wednesday November 5th - The Willis Clan - 7:30 pm
Thursday November 6th - Colt Ford - 7:30 pm
Friday November 7th - Big Daddy Weave - 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm
Saturday November 8th - The Embers and Band of Oz 7:30 pm
Sunday November 9th - The Guess Who 5:00 pm

For the complete list of entertainment go to Coastal Carolina Fair.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Lengendary "Brick House" on Edisto Island--A Love Story With A Regrettable Twist

"I know not how it was--but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit...I looked upon the scene before me--upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain--upon the bleak walls--upon the vacant eye-like windows--with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream...Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream, I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building. Its principle feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity...Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn."

Drayton Hall 
The Lowcountry is rife with aged and ruined plantation homes that fit the portraiture of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." Once sprawling estates of opulence, now pillaged realms of providence--some by Federal troops in the Civil War--some by the all-consuming fires of unintentional carelessness--some by creeping disrepair. What Edgar Allen Poe described with trepidation, we idealize and romanticize. For us, they are living remnants of a glamorous and sometime savage by-gone time called the Old South. Their storied and ghostly pasts color our dreams and shade our nightmares--part of the wonder that lures people from all over the country and the world each year by the millions to their caretaker and master, Charleston and its Sea Islands.

Brick House before 1929
The "Brick House" on Edisto Island is one of those houses. Believed to have been built in 1725, Paul Hamilton used bricks imported from Boston and wood aged a minimum of seven years in its construction--Boston bricks were more denser than local bricks. It was architecturally designed in American colonial architecture, but flavored with a French Huguenot influence. The Jenkins family acquired the estate in 1798, which included the 300 acre plantation. It was in the late 1700's and early 1800's Sea Island plantations grew in wealth and prosperity due to its highly-prized Sea Island Cotton. It was around this time an Edgar Allen Poe type story became a part of its history.

Shortly after the Jenkins took ownership, a relative of Mrs. Jenkins visited Brick House from James Island. Amelia was very beautiful, popular, and recently engaged to the prodigy of a prominent Charleston family. She was accompanied by her young mistress. Not long after, a complication arose when Amelia fell in love with a wealthy Edisto planter. She attempted to break off the engagement by letter, but the gentleman came to Brick House to confront her, demanding an explanation. Amelia's answer, "I fell in love with someone else." The jilted suitor pleaded for her to reconsider, but failed. "You will never marry him, I would rather see you dead," he threatened and walked away.

Time passed and the threat was forgotten--everyone was preoccupied with the wedding plans. The wedding day arrived. Nearby, Mr. Jenkins private steamboat awaited at the wharf. The newly weds would leave for Charleston after the festivities were completed. Brick House was filled with family and guests. Early in the evening, Amelia retired to the upstairs to put on her dress. With the assistance of her mistress, she readied herself. The veil was placed on her head and the mistress left the room. From the open window in the room, Amelia faintly heard her name called out. She approached the window and peered out into the darkness. Then, there was the deafening sound of a gun shot and a second.

Downstairs, the relatives and guests stunned by the echoing gunfire looked at one another in disbelief. They took immediate inventory. Everyone downstairs was alright. Then, a cold chill fell upon the celebrants. They all rushed up the stairs. The bridegroom was the first to reach the bloody and lifeless body of Amelia. Beside the window, a bloody-red handprint marked the place where she placed her hand before collapsing to the floor.

The jilted lover from Charleston made good on his threat. Outside the window stood a stately old oak. He had climbed into its broad branches, fired the fatal shot, and then turned the gun on himself. His body was found beneath the tree. The pistol's sulfuric exhalation lingering among the leaves overhead.

It is said, the bloody handprint left by Amelia remained on the beautiful, scenic-painted wall until a hundred years later, when it was covered by a heavy, green paint. In 1929, a fire gutted the interior, thus forever erasing the paint-covered manifestation. The brick shell survived. Over the years since, Brick House has suffered instability and extraordinary dilapidation, but Amelia's tragic story lives on. Each year on August the 13th, screams can be heard coming from within its crumbling walls. Some people say Amelia is often seen standing in the bedroom window--wedding dress shimmering in the moonlight.

After 1929

This is just one of the many houses and legends you will encounter as you navigate the historic Lowcountry from Bulls Island to Edisto Island, from the Battery in Charleston to Hutchinson Square in Summerville. They are as nurturing as the coastal tides and as murky as pluff mud. Bring your camera and broaden your mind for these words will reverberate in your ears, "Houses are alive...If we're quiet, if we listen, we can hear houses breath. Sometimes, in the depth of the night, you can even hear them groan. It's as if they were having bad dreams. A good house cradles and comforts, a based one fills us with instinctive unease."--Steven King in "Rose Red"

Ghost or Civil War Walking Tour of Charleston
Chilling Charleston Macabre Ghost Tour
Ghost and Haunted Tours in Charleston
Bulldog Ghost Tours
Tours of Edisto
Botany Bay Eco Tours

Friday, October 10, 2014

Now Barely A Whisper In The Wind With A Ghost Of A Story, Edingsville Beach Was A Haven Of Grandeur And Extravagance

As the legend tells, in the hazy cast of a summer's blood moon, when the ocean air is heavy with a salty mist, you just may see the glazed shadow of the moon's dim light dance its somber dance on the window panes of the once upon a time planter's homes an oyster toss from Botany Bay along a stretch of beach once called Edingsville. And if you carefully listen to the tempestuous breeze passing over the sand and through the scattered relics washed ashore by the agitated surf, you just may hear the faint laughter and decadent chatter of the souls who past the time here during the burdensome heat of the malarial months of mosquito infested inland Edisto. But do not linger, for out of the translucent shadows, unexpectedly you may be enlisted by an illusory woman walking the beach mournfully in search of her husband long past due from a distant land.

Today, this hauntingly seductive shoreline is a windswept, sea-shelled stretch of solitary sand located between Edisto and Botany Bay Beach(see map). You would be looking from Botany Bay for a glimpse because there is no access to the beach other than by way of a causeway used exclusively by the residents of Jeremy Cay--a gated community separated from the beach by a salt marsh. You arrive at the gates of Jeremy Cay by way of a moss covered, oak lined road called Edingsville Beach Road. The very same road that led the families of the aristocratic Sea Island planters of Edisto to their beachside, summer resort once called Edingsville and the beginning of the story.

With the 18th century closing out and the 19th beginning, Edisto planters were fast becoming the wealthiest plantation owners in the South due to Sea Island cotton. Silky and highly prized, Sea Island cotton boasted extra long fibers making it a variety avidly sought after by mill owners of the world. Their unbelievable wealth empowered the planters to establish an aristocracy reinforced in blood and marriage. They built beautiful mansions, bought townhouses in Charleston and entertained lavishly, but in the summer months their plantation paradises languished in summer's oppressive heat besieged by swarms of mosquito and the dreaded "country fever," also known as malaria. While seeking relief on the barrier island beaches of the Atlantic, they discovered the cooling ocean breezes kept the scourge at bay. With this realization, the idea of Edingsville Beach was born.

Sea Island plantation
By 1820, the beachside resort of Edingsville had grown to include sixty stately two-story, brick houses wrapped in terraces with sweeping views, adorned with gardens and serviced by carriage houses and slave quarters. Two churches praised their good fortunes and resolved their sins while an academy kept the boys educated. In 1852, the Atlantic Hotel was built by the Eding's family to accommodate the growing list of vacationers. The beach retreat was dubbed "Riviera of the Low Country."

Every May, the planters would gather up their servants and furnishings, load them onto wagons and carts followed by horse drawn carriages filled with their progeny, and make the trek over Edisto's hot, sandy roads to their magical haven by the ocean to spend the long summer days partaking in elegant parties, boat races, horse races, elaborate banquets and splashing around in the soothing, salty waters of the Atlantic. They would stay until the first frost of autumn. It was a leisurely, carefree life, but destiny had other plans for Edisto's planters and Edingsville Beach.

Between the devastation of the Civil War in the 1860's and the boll weevil infestations of 1917, the Sea Island Cotton industry in the Lowcountry became decimated. In almost a single season, the royal crop of the sea islands was wiped out, never to return. After escaping the insanity of the Civil War, Edingsville Beach's benefactor became its malefactor. The very same ocean that brought jubilant relief eventually brought absolute devastation.

A series of hurricanes beginning in 1874 relentlessly eroded away the golden era existence of Edingsville Beach. Finally, the hurricane of 1893 washed away all affirmation of its splendor and extravagance leaving only a tabby brick fireplace and broken trinkets. Over the years since, the occasional piece of china or brick appears on the beach delivered by a passing wave as a reminder of the once flourishing aristocracy.

As for the illusory woman, her name is Mary Clark. She was the daughter of one of the wealthy planters who spent the hot summer months with the family at their waterfront home on Edingsville Beach. She recently married her childhood sweetheart, a ship's captain, who also was a descendant of island planters. Four weeks after their wedding, the groom set sail for the West Indies. It was October and most of the planter families were still in residence at their beach homes.

Each evening, just before sunset, Mary walked down to the water's edge, stared out over the steadily building surf and longed for the return of her husband. Two weeks had passed. The captain's ship was overdue. The smell of an approaching hurricane was in the air, but it was too late to leave the island. The causeway was already flooded. Mary knew in her heart the captain's ship may be involved.

The hurricane hit and the house trembled and swayed. The structure started to buckle and sea water washed into the house. It was a long night of terror for Mary and the others as they struggled to stay alive. The morning brought an eerie calm and a scene that would never be forgotten. Trees were lying everywhere. Some beach houses were moved off their foundations with porches, chimneys or windows washed away.

Through it all, Mary's concern for her husband never wavered. Looking in disbelief at the heavy pieces of furniture, chairs, and sofas strewn along the beach, she spotted a dark, lumpy form floating on the ocean's horizon. She watched as the form washed closer toward the shore and become more recognizable. It was the form of a man. A numbing chill ran down her spine. She ran into the water, and as the form got closer to her, she recognized the body of her husband. With a shuddering cry, she plunged her trembling arms into the salty water and with tears streaming from her eyes, drew his lifeless body to her heartbroken chest and then, it disappeared. Later, the heart-wrenching news arrived. Her husband's ship went down in the hurricane and all on board were lost.

Now it is said, on moonlit nights, a young woman can be seen desperately searching the beach and running into the waves to pull the form of a man onto the shore.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

An Emerging Watersport Comes To Tidal Wave Watersports Near Morgan Creek On The IOP--Available This Spring

Over the past five years, stand up paddleboarding has mushroomed from the handful of surfers who were doing it in Hawaii. Since hitting California beaches, it has spread across the country to the east coast like a tidal wave. From Edisto Island to the IOP, Charleston's coastal beaches and tidal creeks have been besieged. A sport that now includes everyone from whitewater enthusiasts to people who like to practice yoga. There are an estimated 1.2 million SUPers. To those who do it, it is like walking on water. But how would you like to soar over water?

A new kind of watersport is emerging in Charleston. It is called flyboarding. A flyboard is a device that is attached to your feet via boots containing two high volume nozzles connected to a jet ski by a 50 foot hose. Water from the jet ski is forced up the hose to the board where it is ejected from the nozzles out of the bottom of the board at a high speed creating a thrust that sends you an estimated 20 feet into the air. By controlling the direction of the nozzles through which the water is ejected with your legs and arms, you can control the thrust and control the direction in which you move.

Besides flying over the water, once you have mastered the board anything is possible, which for most people generally takes about 15 minutes. Try a pelican high dive into the water and swim like a dolphin. You are only limited by your own imagination. As long as the jet ski is providing power, the rider can hover in the air for as long as they want. A certified instructor is on the jet ski the entire time controlling power and giving instructions.

Tidal Wave Watersports on the IOP is in the process of training and certifying its guides on the intricacies of flyboarding and plans on offering it to the public in the spring of 2015. One beautiful Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to watch and take video as each took their turn on the flyboard. I would have loved to have strapped on the board and flown like an osprey or swam like a dolphin over and under the waters near Morgan Creek, but there is the thing about having the necessary insurance and license. I will have to patiently wait until next spring.

The Lowcountry is richly blessed with beautiful estuaries, tidal creeks, and barrier islands accented with shell-covered sandy beaches--a paradise for the watersport enthusiasts. Kayaking and paddleboarding for those who seek to enjoy the wild life and surround themselves in the beauty of Charleston's estuaries and tidal creeks. Boat Charters and Waverunner Safari Tours for those who crave the unspoiled splendor of the uninhabited barrier islands of Capers and Bulls Island. Jet skiing, parasailing, skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and banana boat rides for those who are in pursuit of fun and thrills, and next spring, the challenge of soaring on a flyboard by way of Tidal Wave Watersports.