The Grand Strand is more commonly associated with beach blankets and towels than traditional Southern quilts. But, perfect for the winter season, the Myrtle Beach area becomes home of the popular Quilt Gala on the last weekend of February.
Held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26-27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this event attracts a large crowd of quilt-makers and enthusiasts to see these homemade and handmade blankets on display. Much like the Horry County Museum that hosts the 22nd annual event, the Quilt Gala also has a new location and an expanded lineup to bring more folks into the historic fold.
Beginning in 1994, the inaugural Quilt Gala was held on the lawn of the Horry County courthouse with a small crowd that came to see about 40 quilts blowing in the winter wind. This year, the event has been relocated indoors to the 17,000 square foot Ocean Lakes Family Campground Recreation Center, which will feature more than 200 quilted items on display.
Located just steps away from the beautiful Atlantic Ocean on the south side of Myrtle Beach, Ocean Lakes Family Campground opens its gates to the general public to see this amazing collection of antique quilts and other quilted items. There will be several vendors on hand offering fabrics, patterns, threads and baskets, as well as unique quilted clothing items.
Visitors will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite items in the Peoples’ Choice Awards as quilters compete for the "Best In Show" title and other awards. Categories include large, medium and small quilts, wearable quilted items, and theme pieces. The winning quilts will be put on display for the general public at the new Horry County Museum in March.
So what's new at the Horry County Museum, besides a lot of old artifacts? Well, for starters, the Horry County Museum itself, which moved to its new location in Conway’s century-old Burroughs School building in 2014. After undergoing major renovations to host the existing exhibits and displays at the old location, the new venue features a mix of old and new.
The most striking display is the new aquarium that was featured on the Animal Planet's hit series "Tanked." The 4,400-gallon freshwater aquarium was built to blend in with the winding staircase and features dozens of local species of fish from the nearby Waccamaw River and Intracoastal Waterway. Guests can spot and identify the occupants as they make their way upstairs to a number of exhibits that highlight the history, culture and people who settled this area during the 1700s.
Popular displays include Horry County's natural history, with a collection of animals that call the area their home, including black bears, alligators and various birds of prey. Exhibits from the area's earliest settlers, including Native American tribes like the Pee Dee and Waccamaw Indians, are on full display, including teepees, pottery, tools and clothing.
A military exhibit focuses on Horry County's role in the Revolutionary War, with old weapons, uniforms and maps available for public perusal. There are displays highlighting local agricultural and manufacturing products, as well as a section dedicated to the areas beaches. A photography display reveals how Horry County has grown and changed over the years.