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2017 Southeastern Wildlife Expo

SEWE Birds of Prey Headquarters - Marion Square
SEWE Birds of Prey Headquarters - Marion Square © Audra L. Gibson

The 2017 Southeastern Wildlife Expo (SEWE) kicks off in full fashion tomorrow, February 17th. SEWE is celebrating it's 35th year in Charleston and remains the biggest art and wildlife expo of its kind in the south. The first expo, held in February of 1983, had approximately 100 exhibits including the first featured artist, Lee LeBlanc, and some 5,000 attendees. Now in it's 35th year, SEWE boasts 40,000+ guests annually. Year after year, it's easy to see why it's grown. It is, in my opinion, one of the best bang for your buck events in Charleston.

Bobcat at the Busch Wildlife Show during SEWE 2017. © 2015 Audra L. Gibson. All Rights Reserved.
Busch Wildlife Show, Gaillard Center - Bobcat on the Prowl

The expo will run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with a full itinerary of events and exhibits. Guests are welcome to come for a single day or purchase a three day pass. Tickets Friday and Saturday will run guests $25 per day, while Sunday, with a slightly sparser schedule and exhibits closing an hour earlier than days prior, is $15 for the day. A three day general admission pass will run guests $50. Kids ten and under are free of charge. Online ticket sales are closed, but guests can purchase tickets onsite at a number of SEWE venues including The Gaillard Center, Charleston Place Hotel, Marion Square, and Brittlebank Park, as well as the Charleston Visitor Center.


A full schedule of events can be found here. However, a general breakdown by interest follows. If you are attending for the wildlife, the Gaillard Center and Marion Square are your best bets. TV personality and nature conservationist, Jeff Corwin, returns to the expo this year for two shows at the Gaillard (3:00 pm on Friday and 1:00 pm on Saturday). The Gaillard also features the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary shows which give attendees an up close an personal look at animals such as foxes, bobcats, alligators, birds of prey, and others. Those shows are Friday at 11:00 am, Saturday at 3:30 pm, and Sunday at 11:00 am. Both Jeff Corwin appearances as well as the Busch Wildlife Shows are first come, first served seating. I recommend arriving early for a good seat. Marion Square will host the Birds of Prey Center's main hub where guests can see eagles, raptors, owls, and hawks as well as flight demonstrations in the middle of the square. The Orianne Society tent can also be found in Marion Square for those interested in reptiles and amphibians.


Dock Dogs Jumping Competition, Brittlebank Park - 10 points for form for this jump in pike position. © 2015 Audra L. Gibson. All Rights Reserved.
Dock Dogs Jumping Competition, Brittlebank Park - 10 points for form for this jump in pike position.


If you are interested in dogs specifically, Brittlebank Park is the place to be. SEWE offers a shuttle service out to Brittlebank Park to all SEWE badge holders at no extra cost. For those heading out to Brittlebank on Friday, the shuttle is highly recommended as parking is extremely limited tomorrow. Additional parking near Brittlebank will be open on Saturday and Sunday for a flat fee of $5 per vehicle. This is recommended for dog owners who would like to bring their furry friend along, as dogs are permitted at SEWE outdoor events, but not on the shuttles. Brittlebank hosts the very popular two tank Dock Dogs jumping competition as well as a bevy of exhibits for man's best friend.


Art Exhibits, Charleston Place Hotel - Ryan Kirby competes in the Quick Draw Competition. © 2015 Audra L. Gibson. All Rights Reserved.
Art Exhibits, Charleston Place Hotel - Ryan Kirby competes in the Quick Draw Competition.


If the arts boost your spirits, the Charleston Place Hotel is your hub. While Charleston is home to a number of fine galleries, the Ballroom and Grand Hallway at Charleston Place (205 Meeting Street) hosts a smorgasbord of artists from painters to sculptors to artists specializing in pen and ink, graphite, or even bird feather art. Ezra Tucker is this year's featured artist, but a full list of artists and examples of their work can be found here. There will be a Quick Draw and Speed Sculpting Competition Friday at 3:00 pm followed by an auction of the pieces guests have just watched the artists create. There will also be a duet and quartet performance as well as an art auction on Saturday at 2:00 pm.


As a side note, Chef Demos will be held in Marion Square at 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 1:00 pm Friday, as well as 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm on Saturday. Though all are extremely talented, I admit that John Ondo (1pm on Friday afternoon) is my favorite of the featured chefs. And those interested in some cool and unique shopping finds should check out the vendors in the Gaillard Center. I found a beautiful cutting board and handy beer/wine caddy at last year's event.


Whatever your interests, I hope you have a chance to check out this year's SEWE which does a great job of supporting the arts as well as wildlife conservation. 

Audra Gibson

Audra Gibson is a Christian, photographer, surfer, and a lover of teriyaki steak bites. She enjoys live music, doesn't like to be cold, and she's a bit of a cheese snob. Traveling Ink was her little brain child and she's very happy that you're here. She'd be oh so happy to recommend her favorite tours and attractions in town, help you with a team building event, or organize a day (or week) of fun for you and your group.


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