Vendors, concerts part of Bassmaster event
Some of the best anglers in the country are headed to South Carolina’s Hammock Coast for a chance to reel in a trophy in the 2022 Strike King Bassmaster College Series National Championship, and the community is pulling out all the stops to showcase the area with two free concerts in historic Georgetown.
The Bassmaster tournament, set for Sept. 2-4, will host nearly 250 college athletes from universities across the United States. The Hammock Coast has hosted a series of Bassmaster events since 2005, and this is the second time the college series has fished Winyah Bay.
As part of the community celebrations, Georgetown County is hosting two free concerts on Front Street in Georgetown. A variety of vendors will be open for the public to enjoy.
On Friday, Sept. 2, at 8 p.m., Too Much Sylvia will perform in a concert sponsored by the Georgetown Business Association. The concert doubles as part of the GBA’s monthly Music In the Park series. The band, a Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame inductee, is made up of lead vocalist and guitarist Steve Long, who was named the Male Vocalist of the Year by Carolina Beach Music Association in 2020; bass guitarist and vocalist Eddy Howie; drummer Don Leonard; and keyboardist Rick Lee, who is also CBMA Hall of Fame inductee.
Too Much Sylvia, founded in 1991, has performed more than 3,500 shows from Washington, D.C., to the Caribbean.
And on Sept. 3, at 8 p.m., the event’s signature concert will welcome Charleston, S.C.-based Blue Dogs to the Bassmaster Stage. The concert is sponsored by the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast.
The Blue Dogs band was formed in 1987 and is still fronted by songwriters Hank Futch, bassist, and Bobby Houck, lead singer and acoustic guitarist. They are joined by guitarist Dan Hood, steel guitarist Charlie Thompson, and longtime drummer Greg Walker.
The band has released a string of successful albums over the years, including 2022’s “Big Dreamers.” The Blue Dogs’ sound conveys the vivid imagery of coastal life that echoes the sound of classic beach music through the band’s original compositions that also evoke a variety of musical styles, including Americana and Blues.
“The Chamber and the Hammock Coast are thrilled to welcome the Blue Dogs for this signature concert,” said Beth Stedman, president and CEO of the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce. “The band is legendary in South Carolina, and we are so pleased to be able to host this free concert for the community and all the Bassmaster participants and their families.”
Both concerts will be held on Front Street in historic Georgetown directly across from Francis Marion Park. In case of rain, the concerts will be held at the historic Winyah Auditorium, 1200 Highmarket St. Various vendors with Bassmaster will be set up in the area. The River Room Restaurant is located next to the park and other Georgetown eateries are within easy walking distance. Concertgoers should bring their own chairs.
REEL IN THE FUN THROUGHOUT THE EVENT
Other events will be held in conjunction with the tournament.
The New South/Pepsi Beverage Garden, offering a variety of non-alcoholic and adult beverages, will be located at Maritime Park (next to the South Carolina Maritime Museum). It will be open beginning at 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3 and 4. There is no admission, as it’s pay as you go.
Fish weigh-ins are at 2:30 p.m. each day (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) at Francis Marion Park, and the public is invited to each. Bassmaster-sponsored vendors at the park will be open at 11 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The public is also invited to each daily launch at 6:30 a.m. at Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex, 101 River Walk Drive in Georgetown.
The Bassmaster collegiate tournament is another signature event on the Hammock Coast, signifying the importance of nature-centric activities that spotlight the area’s water-based tourism. From the beach communities along the Waccamaw Neck and the Atlantic Ocean — southern Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island — to the rivers that flow into the Winyah Bay, water defines the historic coastal region.
Winyah is a coastal estuary that is the confluence of the Waccamaw River, the Pee Dee River, the Black River, and the Sampit River. Winyah Bay is the fourth-largest estuary on the U.S. East Coast and home to many aquatic and terrestrial species – and, clearly, a favorite for anglers. The historic port city of Georgetown is located on the bay.
The Bassmaster College Series Championship will field as many as 130 teams of anglers representing universities across the nation.
“We’re excited to offer college anglers an incredible championship tournament experience,” said Glenn Cale, B.A.S.S. Nation tournament manager — College, High School and Junior. “I am thrilled that we are able to get these young anglers onto this extraordinary tidal fishery as they compete for a national title and a chance to fish the Classic.”
Winyah Bay has hosted two major B.A.S.S. events — Elite derbies in 2016 and 2019 — along with several B.A.S.S. Nation regional championships.
“These are college anglers, and this is their national championship,” said Beth Goodale, Georgetown County director of recreation and community services. “Teams from 24 states have battled across the nation. Four top teams will fish in a shoot-out to fish in the Classic next year. Their pro careers can be launched from this. We hope people will come out and support Bassmasters and show these college anglers and families how special and unique Georgetown is.
“Come out and help us welcome them here so we can get folks back here over and over again.”
COLLEGE TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO GEORGETOWN
For the college tournament, competitors will not only be fighting for a national championship, presented by Bass Pro Shops, but also a berth in the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk on the Tennessee River via the College Classic Bracket tournament.
The leading anglers in the Bassmaster College Series Team of the Year points standings will be determined after the four regular-season events. The Team of the Year will punch their ticket to the College Classic Bracket event, which will be held later this year. The College Classic Bracket takes the Top 3 teams from the National Championship plus the Team of the Year and places the individual anglers in head-to-head bracket-style competition for a berth in the Classic, where they will compete for a prize purse of over $1 million.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series presented by Mossy Oak Fishing, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.
Winyah Bay’s importance as a waterway goes back centuries as fishery and locations for myriad wildlife. The entrance to the bay is flanked by North Island, South Island and Cat Island. Today, the first two islands and most of the third comprise the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center, as the islands were willed to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources by Tom Yawkey, former owner of the Boston Red Sox.
Georgetown County’s casual charm and Southern hospitality earned it the nickname of the Hammock Coast. Adventure and relaxation blend together in perfect harmony, like the flowing and ebbing of waves on the county’s famed beaches. With six communities – Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach, Pawleys Island, Georgetown and Andrews – comprising the pristine coastal area between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, visitors can experience South Carolina’s Hammock Coast like never before.
Georgetown offers an abundance of accommodations for guests, including hotels and cozy bed and breakfasts. Georgetown marinas welcome boaters from around the globe. The beach communities of the Hammock Coast — only minutes from historic Georgetown — offer beachfront homes, condos and more for those who want to expand their stay beyond the tournament.
— By Mark A. Stevens, director of tourism development for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast