A review of SEWE 2014

A brave and snake enthusiast showing off his passion.

A brave snake enthusiast showing off his passion. Photo by Meredith Malphrus.

“A celebration to preserve a way of life… Ours,” the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition proudly exclaims and executes. Now, just imagine born and raised, reactionary southerners along with their deep drawls and accessorized by their pure blood, award-winning English pointers, with a bourbon in hand and that is what you would have seen at SEWE.

SEWE attendee and along side his English pointer at Charleston Place.

SEWE attendee and along side his English pointer at Charleston Place. Photo by Meredith Malphrus.

I spent my weekend joyously wandering through Charleston at the expo and now that it is over, I am counting down to next year’s SEWE event! This affair was both entertaining and compelling and dazed me into a coma of all things southern and all things wildlife.

The opening day of SEWE, Friday, Feb. 14, I walked along with family and friends in familiar Marion Square where I was impressed by the chefs and wine connoisseurs of the expo. There, I gladly, and maybe too eagerly, sampled grits, jams and jellies, roasted duck, cheeses of all kinds, olive oils, homemade fudge and even tasted a hefty number of tabasco sauces. After all the sampling and feeling overwhelmingly full, I was glad to be entertained by the Birds of Prey demonstration. This up-close and action-filled demo showed owls, falcons, hawks, and vultures in flight and did I mention it was up-close? At one point I was crouched on the ground in attempt to dodge a low-soaring falcon! Not only was the show entertaining, but also it was educational. I will admit I have never been a fan of the creepy, road kill-eating vulture, but by the end of the show I learned how essential they are to the environment and saw how loving and passionate the bird trainers were towards these birds. That is what the expo is all about, folks!

Ending our evening at the lavish Charleston Place hotel, located on 205 Meeting St., I had the pleasure to view many incredible paintings and sculptures. Walking through the gallery in the atrium of Charleston Place, the drooping crystal chandeliers added a bit of Monte Carlo-esque to the aura and accentuated the beautiful and big-ticket artwork quite nicely. My personal favorite was English painter, Julie Askew’s painting titled “Ever Alert.” It was simply captivating. Moving along through the gallery, I began to feel quite poor. I could not afford anything, yet it was a privilege just to be able to be in a room full of talented artists and appreciate their work.

A golden retriever and competitor of the Dock Dog contest dries off after his jump.

A golden retriever and competitor of the Dock Dog contest dries off after his jump. Photo by Meredith Malphrus.

The following morning our crew took a shuttle out to Brittlebank, flanking the choppy Ashley River where my favorite event of the entire weekend, the Dock Dog contest, was located. It featured trained canines in an exciting aquatic competition where the dogs run and leap after a toy thrown into the pool and the dog with the longest distance jump wins. The great dog lover I am, you can believe I was front row, “oohing and aahing” along with the crowd and cheering on the dogs. It was all fine and great until one dog made quite the splash and suddenly I regretted sitting front row. However, the Dock Dog contest was not the only exciting competition going on. Next to it, was the retrieving competition held for puppies. You can imagine the “awing” going on there, I being one of them, of course.  In addition, some great vendors were there offering hunting trips abroad, such as Kalahari Hunting Safaris and Hunt Trip Spain.

All in all, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition did not disappoint. It was all things from relaxing to educational to entertaining. But most importantly, the expo served to provide people of the south with new information on nature preservation, showcased wildlife experts’ work on sporting apparel and goods and lastly, the expo allowed people to appreciate it all. SEWE invited us to explore our “wild” side and pay homage to the great southern ways of life. And so we did…

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