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Socks, dogs & rock 'n' roll

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Over the last few weeks, Sally Swineford and Susan Sanders have spent a lot of time explaining the details of the S.C. Maritime Museum’s newest fundraiser.

It’s called the Burning of the Socks and, while it’s popular in other areas of the country, it’s a first in Georgetown County and has raised more than a few eyebrows.

“Everybody wants to know ‘why are you burning your socks?’ So we have to keep going through that story,” said Swineford, a museum board member and volunteer.

Sanders is the museum’s director.

Luckily for them, there is a good story behind the Burning of the Socks, a celebration of the spring equinox, which in the case of the museum event, will also feature an oyster roast and live music by John Lammonds.

The event is Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. on the waterfront behind the museum. Advance tickets are $35 ($30 for museum members). The price goes up to $40 on the day of the event.

The Burning of the Socks is a coastal tradition that has its roots in Annapolis, Md., with a boat yard manager named Bob Turner.

“He had been working on other people’s boats all winter long,” said Swineford. “Well, boaters and sailers don’t really like to wear socks, but when it gets cold enough they’ll give in and put them on.”

As the story goes, Turner’s socks got covered in sawdust, bottom paint, caulk, fiberglass resins and other unpleasant materials throughout that winter about 30 years ago. By March, he was sick of winter and definitely sick of those socks.

“So, on the first day of spring, he doffed his socks, put them in a paint tray, sprinkled some lighter fluid, set them on fire and had a beer to celebrate,” Swineford recounted.

Thus began a celebration that seems to spread to more coastal towns every year. It’s summed up in an “Ode to the Sock Burners,” penned by Jefferson Holland in Annapolis in 1995, and read every year when the socks are lit at various parties.

“Them Eastport boys got an odd tradition/ When the sun sinks to its equinox position/ They build a little fire down along the docks/ They doff their shoes, and they burn their winter socks,” the poem begins.

For all the tradition seems a little strange to those who haven’t heard of it before, people in Georgetown County are plenty willing to give it a shot. There are about 250 tickets available and Swineford said she’s expecting they’ll sell out.

“Everybody thinks it’s just a really fun idea,” she said. “And of course we’re telling everybody it’s BYOS.”

That’s Bring Your Own Socks, by the way.

The Burning of the Socks found its way to Georgetown thanks to Johnny Weaver, another museum board member. He’d heard of the celebration before and suggested it when the museum was looking for a spring fundraiser.

“We were thinking about fun events we could do and we knew we wanted to do an oyster roast,” Swineford said. “But everybody does an oyster roast. We wanted to do something really special and relevant.”

The spring equinox is March 20, “but you can’t do a throw down on a Tuesday,” Swineford said, so ticket holders will ignite their socks and break out their flip-flops a couple of days early.

The ceremony will follow a loose format as there are posted rules for sock burning that were forwarded on to the museum by other groups that practice the tradition. Among them, the celebration has to start while it’s light outside and end just before dark and socks have to be burned in a small, modest fire made from driftwood.

The ceremony in Georgetown will start with a speech about the tradition of the Burning of the Socks and then a few people at a time will approach the fire and throw their socks into the flames until everyone has had a chance.

The Burning of the Socks isn’t the only new event coming up in Georgetown County. Mark your calendars for these other inaugural happenings that organizers hope will become annual traditions.

Surfrider Foundation: All the right moves

Vendors of surf and skateboard equipment will show off their wares, and local restaurants will go head to head at the inaugural Surf-Skate Expo and Fish Taco Cook-off in Murrells Inlet.

The event, from 1 to 8 p.m. on March 25, is a fundraiser for the Atlantic Surfing Federation’s surf program, which helps teach competition, discipline and sportsmanship to kids.

The event is held in conjunction with the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and was inspired in part by Surfrider’s annual Lip’ Rippin’ Chililympics Chili Cook-off. After seeing the success of that event and needing a fundraiser for the ASF, a group that has only been in the area for about a year, Denny Green, a founding member and chapter director, decided to give it a surfer twist.

Surfers love fish tacos, he said, and a fish taco cook-off would be a great draw for an event that would be a good time for surfers and skaters, but could also introduce surfing and skating to the uninitiated, he proposed.

“A lot of people have misconceptions about surfers and skaters. They think they’re lazy and don’t want to work, and that kind of stuff. But most aren’t. We’ve got doctors and lawyers and business owners,” Green said.

At the expo, folks can meet the owners of surf and skate shops, see demonstrations of how surfboards are made and watch skaters show off their moves. There will also be live music throughout the day and local artists selling surf- and nautical-themed artwork.

Activities will be set up between Creek Ratz and Capt. Dave’s Dockside restaurant.

Surf and skate shops from Pawleys Island to North Myrtle Beach will be represented.

Interest in the expo was so high, “I had 36 spots for tents and I finally had to cut it off at 40,” Green said. “I think all the local, homegrown shops are going to be there.”

For information, call Green, 997-9184.

Chamber of Commerce: Here we go

The details are set for Coastal BrewFest, the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce’s brand new beer festival.

The event has been in the works for several months, but organizers just pinned down the location. It will be April 27 from 4 to 10 p.m. at Litchfield Exchange.

Beer vendors and live music will set up in the grassy areas outside and food will be available inside Applewood restaurant.

“I really wanted it to be on [Highway] 17 so we had that drive-by exposure,” said Annette Fisher, Chamber president. And she knew from the start she wanted the festival to be on the Waccamaw Neck.

Coastal BrewFest is modeled after an event in Pinehurst, N.C., Fisher said.

Festival-goers will get a souvenir pilsner glass with the cost of admission that they can use to sample offerings from vendors. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and can be purchased at the Chamber in Georgetown or Applewood. There will be an additional cost for food and non-alcoholic beverages at the event.

Fisher doesn’t have a count yet on how many vendors will be on hand, but brewers from throughout North and South Carolina have been invited. The festival will showcase unusual varieties of beer, so even if someone is familiar with a particular brand, they’re likely to find a brew from that company at the festival that they haven’t been exposed to before.

There will also be a home brew contest for amateurs. Contact the Chamber, 546-8436, to sign up.

St. Frances Animal Center: Party like it’s 1969

You know Woodstock, that famed 1969 festival of music and peace. Now, St. Frances Animal Center wants to introduce you to Woofstock.

“It’s going to be a low-key, relaxed music festival, where people can just sit back and enjoy the day, hear some good music and help animals in the process,” said Wendy Goude, the center’s executive director and creator of the new event. “They have stuff like this in Myrtle Beach and Charleston, but this is one of a kind for Georgetown County.”

A fundraiser for the animal center, Woof-stock is April 28, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds of the Y in Georgetown. Tickets are $25 per person or $40 per couple. Beverages are included with the ticket price. Beer will be donated by Better Brands, a distributor of Budweiser products, and soda and bottled water will be donated by Pepsi.

Food will be available for an additional charge.

Local bands will perform throughout the day and people are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy the music in comfort. Bands confirmed so far include the Highliners of Pawleys Island, Shaywise of Georgetown and Satellite Rodeo of Charleston.

There will also be a dog agility demonstration, adoptable animals from St. Frances will be on site and Jerry Walls, a naturalist and educator, will show off some of his animals, which range from reptiles to opossums.

Goude said the reaction to Woofstock so far has been outstanding and she’s expecting anywhere from 750 to 1,000 people to attend.

“People love the name of it. They think it’s precious,” she said. And she guarantees it’s going to be a great time.

For information about the festival, call 546-0780.

Friends of the Library: A global menu

After the success of the Friends of the Waccamaw Library’s inaugural Mardi Gras dinner fundraiser, more of its kind are on the way this year.

The Friends have scheduled three more themed dinners with chef Jeff Tuttle of Carefree Catering, who prepared the Mardi Gras meal. He wowed a sold-out crowd with a New Orleans style dinner and cooking demonstration beginning with his signature crab cakes and ending with bourbon bread pudding.

He’ll pull out a Spanish flavor on May 1 for a Primero de Mayo dinner. On July 10, an early Bastille Day celebration will have a French flair. And on Sept. 25, Tuttle will prepare a Mediterranean dinner, organizers said.

Reservations for the May event are being accepted now. Tickets will be $35. Call Kathy Gramet, 237-9208, or e-mail kgramet@aol.com.

Information and menus for subsequent dinners will be posted online at [E-Mail Article To a Friend]

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