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Southeastern Wildlife Exposition moves forward with 2021 event

Staff Report //December 3, 2020//

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition moves forward with 2021 event

Staff Report //December 3, 2020//

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Artists from across the U.S. attend and exhibit at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. The next SEWE gallery will be on display at the Marriott Hotel across from other expo venues at Brittlebank Park. (Photo/SEWE)The 39th annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is moving forward — albeit with attendance caps, a smaller footprint and no shuttle system.

Organizers of the exhibition of wildlife art, conservation and lifestyle have been working closely with the city and local and state public agencies to create a modified version that will be safe but still engaging in the midst of the pandemic, a news release said.

The event will be held Feb. 12-14 in two major exhibit sites in downtown Charleston, Brittlebank Park and the Charleston Marriott.

Dogs and dog events are always a popular draw at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. (Photo/SEWE)John Powell, executive director of SEWE, said that even during such challenging times, he and his team are committed to continuing decades of tradition. Last year’s festival was one of the few major annual events that was able to take place in Charleston since it occurred right before the city’s coronavirus shutdown.

“Planning during these uncertain times in our world has not been without its challenges, but the SEWE team is optimistic about our event’s future,” Powell said. “As we earnestly move forward with preparations for next year, we also recognize the possibility that we may be facing different circumstances in 2021. We will continue on with our plans for February, but want to assure you that public health and safety will take precedence.”

Daily attendance limits will be implemented for the first time ever in 2021 with 25% of the typical capacity for general admission tickets and VIP packages. SEWE also will suspend its transportation and shuttle system for the event given the attendance reductions and proximity of Brittlebank Park to the Charleston Marriot.

At Brittlebank Park, attendees can enjoy sporting guides and outfitters, DockDogs competitions, canine demonstrations from herding and retrieving breeds, conservation organizations, the S.C. Department of Agriculture tent and more. Across the street, the Charleston Marriott will host the Fine Art Gallery and its artists, as well as a curated exhibit of artisans and craftsmen that embody the SEWE lifestyle. 

Since 1983, the festival has served as a celebration of Charleston during the off-season and contributed to the city’s economy through increased tourism, which has taken a hard hit throughout the pandemic.

 “The Charleston area, like all destinations, has faced incredible challenges this year, and we are excited to safely and responsibly host an event for our community that will support local hotels, attractions, restaurants and retailers,” Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Helen Hill said. She is also a member of the SEWE board of directors.

This year, Charleston artist Mark Kelvin Horton is the featured artist and his selected painting is the subject of the official 2021 SEWE poster.

“Our support for wildlife artists, Charleston and our loyal attendees will not waiver, despite the obstacles we are currently facing. We are all looking forward to what can be and are ready to reconnect at the upcoming show in February,” Powell said.