“Best of the best” kick off weekend for 44th Atalaya Festival

News13 Digital First

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW) – The 44th Annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival kicked off Friday afternoon at Huntington Beach State Park to begin celebrating a weekend full of talented artists, tasty local food vendors, live music and much more.

The Atalaya festival is the largest event The South Carolina Park Service puts on annually, requiring months of preparation and set up for park managers, employees, vendors, and artists.

Beginning in February, applications open for artists to apply to showcase their work in the festival. Each application goes through an extensive jury process and given a score based on quality by a group of judges.

“We get about 200 artists that apply to this show and we have right around 100 spaces for those artists,” Sales and Marketing Manager for South Carolina State Park Service Gwen Davenport said.

Basketry, photography, jewelry, and woodwork are a few of the 20+ categories of art showcased.

Artists come from local areas and travel from out of state to participate in this weekend’s festival.

Participants who spoke with News13 on Friday shared their humility in being selected and acknowledged the competitive process each artist’s work goes through in order to be selected to participate in this weekend’s event.

Park Manager Brenda Magers has been involved in the festival for over a decade. She says this year will be different from recent years as it’s the first year decent weather has made way for a clear forecast.

Over the past five years, nearly every festival has taken place during a major weather event or significant flooding.

Magers also said a heavy number of staff and volunteers of 30-40 people will cover the park grounds this weekend to ensure a safe event as they are expecting large crowds.

Heat-related illness is one of the top concerns for families and visitors attending the festival and officials remind attendees to stay hydrated and cool.

This year’s event will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday Sept. 27-29. Admissions is $10 for adults and children ages 15 and under are free. Saturday festival hours will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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