Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The Wooden Boat Show, celebrating its 25th anniversary in Georgetown this year, has received The Charles A. Bundy Award, which recognizes contributions to rural tourism in South Carolina.
The award was presented at a recent Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel, an annual event that honors the best of the best in hospitality, marketing and rural tourism.
One of the main organizers of the event, Sally Swineford, said she and others who have made the event a success are excited.
“We are over the top,” Swineford said.
“It is a great honor for the Boat Show and for the City of Georgetown and Georgetown County as well. This will bring a lot of publicity for our show and for our area.”
She credits all of the board members and volunteers who work each year to make the event a success.
“It takes a lot of work,” Swineford said.
She added that this past year, the fire on Front Street on Sept. 25 was just three-and-a-half weeks before the Wooden Boat Show.
“There was no doubt that we would go forward with our plans,” Swineford said.
“We saw a lot of support for Georgetown and we had a number of new exhibitors and sponsors this year.”
She was very thankful that the South Carolina Maritime Museum, which the Wooden Boat Show helped create, was spared by the fire.
“The building has an 18-inch fire wall,” Swineford said. “The fire tried to get in the upstairs back window, but the firemen put it out before that could happen.”
Johnny Weaver, another original organizer of the event, agreed that the event could not continue without the 200-plus volunteers.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers, the great community support and the sponsor support,” Weaver said. “They all help make it a wonderful event.”
He said for last year’s event the number of vendors increased from 125 to 180.
“There was so much emphasis put on the buildings being burned down that people thought Georgetown was dead,” Weaver said.
“People came out for the boat show and it became a kind of rallying point to let people know downtown Georgetown is alive and moving forward.”
Weaver said Swineford was the main person pushing the board to apply for the state hospitality and marketing award, and the Chamber of Commerce was very helpful with determining the financial impact of the event.
Tee Miller, economic development director with the City of Georgetown, who is also involved with planning the event, agreed.
“It was really hard to come up with the impact since we don’t sell tickets,” Miller said.
“We asked all the merchants to make a statement about what the event did for them to let people know the impact.”
The Wooden Boat Show is, by far, the stellar tourist event for Georgetown. The event attracts participants and event-goers from all over the country. These lovely folks visit our shop, which makes for quite a successful day for us. We’ve found that they also come back to visit long after the event is over. Needless to say, we simply love the WBS!
— Linda L. Abate
The Sly Fox
The Wooden Boat Show” has always been successful for the merchants on Front Street and surrounding areas! Although eight of us merchants lost a business in the September 25th fire, The Wooden Boat Show was proof that we will prevail. I personally am excited to have Wooden Boat Show present for 2014 as it brings a wealth of visitors, both old and new to our historic Georgetown!
— Susan Lumpkin
Wooden Boat Show day for us is a blast! We start the day with complimentary bloody marys and breakfast bites, spend it seeing friends from all over and making new ones that continue to come to Georgetown even after boat show day! This year we not only did breakfast, but went thru 6 punch bowls of sangria to keep the storefront festive! Sales were wonderful, and we had a ball sharin our town!
— Geraldine Jayroe and Kevin Jayroe
Swamp Fox Tours and Bienvenue Home
About the event
The show began in 1993 by a group of local business people who wanted to improve business in downtown Georgetown. For the past two decades, this event has continued to build its economic impact on the community.
Local hotels, for example, experienced a 50 percent increase in accommodations revenues during the boat show weekend, and restaurants along Front Street have seen a 45 percent spike in revenue.
The real impact, however, has gone far beyond business.
The festival has helped revitalize two historic buildings, and continues to play a pivotal role in the development of the South Carolina Maritime Museum.