Lakeside April - May 2023

Page 1

Where she needs to be

Anastasia Patterson keeps herself busy, but it all comes back to the lake, a fishing rod and feeling close to God.

Spring festival guide

A guide to what's happening this spring, including Striped Bass, Puddin' Swamp, Birdfest and more

PLUS: Why astrophotographers think South Carolina has the best space-viewing skies

BERKELEY • CLARENDON • KERSHAW • ORANGEBURG • SUMTER
A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 3 2 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE 36 Sunset Drive, Manning, SC 29102 Main: (803) 433-2118 Deli: (803) 433-8544 Pharmacy: (803) 433-2412 piggly wiggly Family Oriented • Warm, Friendly Atmosphere Painless Experience • Crowns • Smile Enhancement • Preventative Care 803.494.8466 5635 Broad Street Ext. Sumter, SC 29150 (on the corner of 378 & 441) www.DentalTeamofSumter.com Thanks for voting us 4 Years in a Row! Best Dentist O ce Like us on Facebook Dr. R. Capers Lee Dr. Hunter Lee 5635 Broad Street Ext. Cl end EXTERMINATING COMPANY 803-435-8689 Thank y f voting us Cl end ’s Best! 535 S. Mill St. Manning, SC Santee Quick Lube Wash & Tire Get away and Relax…. CLARENDON CLUB’S LAKE MARION VACATION HOMES Located on the lake in the following areas: Taw Caw/Goat Island, North Santee and Wyboo Call Whitney at 803-460-9379 clarendon.club@outlook.com Nightly/Weekly Rentals Avoid the added costs of booking via online platforms. Book direct and save money! @clarendonclubsc@clarendonclub #stayclarendonclub custom framing 803.469.6638 1420 Camden Highway, Sumter www.modularframery.net years »VINTAGE »REFURBISHED »GENTLY USE ANTIQUES 25 W. Rigby St. Manning, SC 803-460-5375 Come see us today! We have something for everyone. TCTRADITIONAL COMFORT, LLC FORMERLY KNOWN AS GENE'S HEATING & AIR. SAME GREAT STAFF AND SERVICE CONTINUES TO BE LOCALLY OWNED & OPERATED BY ARCHIE C. PIERSON III, WHO HAS 38 YEARS EXPERIENCE SERVING YOU. YOUR HVAC EXPERTS CALL US 24/7 AT 803-505-4822 YOUR HVAC EXPERTS CALL US 24/7 AT 803-505-4822 FORMERLY KNOWN AS GENES HEATING & AIR. SAME GREAT STAFF AND SERVICE CONTINUES TO BE LOCALLY OWNED & OPERATED BY ARCHIE C. PIERSON III, WHO HAS 38 YEARS EXPERIENCE SERVING YOU

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Spring means it's festival season in the Midlands. Whether it's fishing or flowers, music or carnival rides you're into, there's probably something for you this season. We have a special guide to area festivals inside this spring issue of Lakeside, and our regular events pages are full to the brim with things to do and family friendly events to check out.

Do you recognize the woman on our cover? If you do, maybe that's why you grabbed this magazine. If not, you'll be glad you did. Anastasia Patterson does a little of everything. From fishing to helping brides plan weddings at Clarendon Club, she is busy. But she always finds time to get out on the water. Her passion for fishing is a mindset to emulate.

We also have three stories that all have to do with some sort of shooting. Head to Wateree Range to learn about the sport that's exploding (ha) in popularity. And learn about all the different names for shooting clays. Then head to Ricochet Range to learn about the region's only indoor range and how it's responding to an increase in demand from women. Ladies night

about us from the lake on the cover

at the range, anyone?

Last, lay back and watch the sky. How many times have you heard the word astrophotographer? Me either. They've got gear, they've got time, and they've got amazing photos of the deep, dark night sky of space. And they say rural South Carolina has the best land and sky for their sort of thing. As always, thank you for reading Lakeside. If you know of someone or something you want to see covered in these pages, shoot (ha) me an email at kayla@theitem.com.

Happy reading!

A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 5 4 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE
Anastasia Patterson with a fishing rod is just where she wants to be.
36 W. Liberty Street • Sumter, SC 29150 www.theitem.com what’s inside
Photo by Cal Cary Guns Ricochet Range is the only indoor range
EDITOR OF in the region, and it has Ladies Night LAKESIDE KAYLA GREEN Space Astrophotographers love rural South 8 24 29 34 Carolina. We love their photos. Clays The sport of shooting clays is exploding in popularity, and there's a range nearby Festivals Your guide to springtime outdoor festivals, including Striped Bass and Birdfest Events Things to do around the Midlands, from crawfish and cornbread to rodeos and carnival rides FEATURE STORIES 6 Anastasia She is busy. But it all comes back to the lake and a fishing rod. 41

BERKELEY • CLARENDON KERSHAW • FLORENCE • RICHLAND ORANGEBURG • SUMTER

& What to do Where to go

FLORENCE COUNTY

Harlem Globetrotters 2023 World Tour

A basketball event unlike any other, the event will be at the Florence Center, 3300 W. Radio Drive, Florence, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18. Ticket prices vary. Visit https://www.florencecenter.com/ events/2023/harlem-globetrotters.

ArtFields

ArtFields, touted as “The South’s most engaging art competition and festival,” returns April 19-29. Approximately 400 works of art will be on display in a variety of venues throughout the town of Lake City, from renovated 1920s warehouses and professional art spaces to the library, the history museum, restaurants, boutiques and other shops. For further details and the event schedule, visit https://www. artfieldssc.org/.

2023 Kickball for a Cause

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at Carolina Bank Field, 1200 Jennie O’Bryan Ave., Florence. This family friendly event features a competitive kickball tournament with children’s activities, food and beverages and more. For details, visit https://www. flochamber.com/event/2023-kickball-fora-cause/.

2023 Spring Golf Classic

The event, sponsored by the Florence Chamber of Commerce, will be on Thursday, May 4, at the Traces Golf Club, 4322 Southborough Road, Florence. Lunch, catered by Pee Dee Catering, will begin at 11 a.m. with tee off at noon. All participating golfers will be registered to take part in a $25,000 cash shootout. Visit https://web.florencescchamber.com/ events/2023-Spring-Golf-Classic-3330/ details.

12th-Annual CAPES For Kids Run

The event, a 5K/10K and Fun Run, will be held on Saturday, May 6, at Briggs Elementary School, 1012 Congaree Drive, Florence. Check-in and registration from 7 to 7:45 a.m. with the 5K and 10K race beginning at 8 a.m., followed by the Kid’s Fun Run at 9:20 a.m. This run started in 2011 after the death of a local 3-year-old girl following physical abuse and neglect, and the event is held annually to honor her life as well as the lives of every child who is subjected to abuse or neglect. For details or registration information, visit https:// capesforkidsrun.itsyourrace.com/event. aspx?id=8908.

SUMTER COUNTY

Sumter County Museum’s 21st-Annual Shrimp Feast

The event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at 122 N. Washington St. Enjoy a fun-filled evening in the museum gardens, where you will find all-you-caneat grilled shrimp, shrimp and grits, boiled shrimp, skewered shrimp and Lowcountry boil. There will also be barbecue, beer, wine and soft drinks. Tickets are $40 for members and $50 for the general public. Visit https://www.sumtercountymuseum. org/events/shrimp-feast.

Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Day

In recognition of Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Day, Temple Sinai Jewish History Center invites the public to light a candle in memory of a victim from the Holocaust from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 21, at the center, 11 Church St. Visit https://www.facebook.com/ events/1148840602458275/.

Art in the Park

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at Memorial Park, 417 W. Hampton Ave. Held in celebration of Earth Day, the event will feature more than 100 vendors, arts and crafts, food and a

Alice Boyle Garden Center, 842 W. Liberty St., from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Ticket cost is $15 per person for ages 12 and above. Children under age 12 are admitted free. For further information, find the Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter Inc. on Facebook or call (803) 968-5694.

Black Cowboy Festival and Rodeo

number of tickets, and tickets should be purchased in advance. All proceeds support the care and conservation of the animals and plants at Riverbanks and beyond. Visit https://www.riverbanks.org/events/winetasting.

Lower Richland Sweet Potato Festival

children’s craft center. Free admission.

Festival on the Avenue

Inspired by the Bimbé Celebration, a West African Festival of Harvest, the family friendly Festival on the Avenue celebrates the South Sumter community through the traditions of African American culture, including family, food and the arts. Featuring traditional soul food, visual arts, crafts, dance, music and the literary arts, the festival will be held ThursdaySaturday, April 27-29. Visit http://www. festivalontheave.org/ for events schedule and locations.

Derby Day on the Rooftop

The event will bring the excitement and pageantry of the Kentucky Derby to the rooftop of Sumter Original Brewery, 2 S. Main St. Limited to 300 tickets, the event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 6. Visit https://derbydaysumter.com/ index.html.

The Ag + Art Tour Sumter County

The tour of farms featuring local artisans will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 13, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday, May 14, at various locations throughout the county. For tour sites and featured artisans, visit https:// www.agandarttour.com/sumter#.

Sumter Microbrew’s Hippie Fest 2023

The event will be held 6-8:30 p.m. on Friday, May 19. For location information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www. sumtermicrobrewfestival.org/index.html.

The Spring Tour of Gardens

The Spring Tour of Gardens, sponsored by the Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter Inc., will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. The tour will feature five private home gardens. Several of the homes have backyard gardens along the perimeter of the historic Second Mill Pond. Ticket sales begin Monday, May 1, and can be purchased from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday-Friday at the Swan Lake Visitors Center, 822 W. Liberty St. On the day of the tour, tickets may be purchased at the

The event will be held Thursday-Saturday, May 25-27, at Greenfield Farm, 4585 Spencer Road, Rembert. The festival features barrel racing, pole bending, calf roping, gaited horses, live musical entertainment, demonstrations and vendors. Visit https://discoverevvnt.com/ event/118927x-black-cowboy-festivalrodeo.

Mary Hinson Standard Flower Show

Sponsored by the Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter Inc., the show will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 27, and 1-4 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at the Alice Boyle Garden Center, 842 W. Liberty St. (next to Swan Lake). The show will include floral designs and horticulture specimens. For more information or to enter designs or horticulture, call (803) 968-2534. Find more information on Facebook at Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter Inc.

LEXINGTON AND RICHLAND COUNTIES

Columbia Food and Wine Festival

The five-day, food-filled festival will be held Wednesday-Sunday, April 1923. For full schedule details and to purchase tickets, visit https://www. columbiafoodandwinefestival.com/.

13th-Annual Blythewood DOKO Rodeo

The event will be held April 21-22 at a new location, 10433 Wilson Blvd., Blythewood, and will feature bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and more. Enjoy Western shopping, food vendors, a bounce house for the kids and pony rides. Visit https://blythewoodrodeo.com.

Wine Tasting at Riverbanks Botanical Garden

The event will be held 7-9:30 p.m. on Friday, April 28. Sip a variety of domestic and imported wines, sample light bites from local restaurants, listen to live music and taste an array of micro-brews in a beautiful, inspiring garden. There are a limited

The event will be held 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, at Hopkins Park, 6940 Lower Richland Blvd., Hopkins. Entertainment includes a parade beginning at 11 a.m., praise dancers, step team, drumline, health fair, arts and crafts, carnival rides and so much more. Visit https://lowerrichlandsweetpotatofest. com/.

The South Carolina Cornbread Festival

The event will be held 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, in front of the NOMA Community Garden at the intersection of North Main, Anthony Avenue, Drayton Street and Newman Street, Columbia. Featured festival events include cornbread cook-off, live music, food trucks, cornhole, Little Miss Muffin Pageant, cornbread eating competition and more. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 on the day of. Call or visit (803) 404-3602 or 3730 N. Main St., Suite D, Columbia. Visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ SCCornbreadFest/.

Ag + Art Tour Lexington County

The self-guided tour of farms featuring local artisans, farmer's markets and live music will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at various locations throughout the county. For tour sites and artisans, visit https:// www.agandarttour.com/lexington.

2023 Rosewood Crawfish Festival

The event will be held on Saturday, May 6, at the S.C. State Fairgrounds, 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia. The festival will feature food, arts and crafts, music, Lil’ Crawdaddy Carnival and more. For tickets or more information, visit https:// rosewoodcrawfishfest.com.

S.C. Poultry Festival

Batesburg-Leesville's premier three-day S.C. Poultry Festival will be held May 1113 at 101 Main St., Leesville. There will be live music, rides, food, arts/crafts, road race, parade and more. Visit https:// www.scpoultryfestival.com/ or email scpoultryfestivalinfo@gmail.com.

Kinetic Derby Day

Intended to inspire creative thinkers and help develop problem-solving skills, the fourth-annual Kinetic Derby Day will be held

on Saturday, April 22. Returning to Meeting and State streets, the event will kick off with the kinetic sculpture parade at 10 a.m., followed by soapbox racing and the obstacle course. There will also be a food truck rally, and West Columbia’s Interactive Art Park will host an artisan market. For complete details, visit https://www.kineticderbyday. com

Bark to the Park

An event to benefit Pawmetto Lifeline, it will be held on Saturday, April 22, at Saluda Shoals Park. Registration will be held at 10 a.m. with the walk beginning at 11 a.m. and an “after-pawty” at 11:30 a.m. with petfriendly vendors, pet contests, craft beer, live music and more. Enter Saluda Shoals Park at the 6071 St. Andrew Road entrance. Visit https://pawmettolifeline.org/bark-tothe-park-2023/.

Irmo International Festival

Celebrating the vibrant diversity of Irmo, the Irmo International Festival will be held 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, at Irmo Community Park, 7507 Eastview Drive, Irmo. For details, visit https://www. irmoscinternationalfestival.com/home.

KERSHAW COUNTY

5 Senses at Sunset

This Earth Day celebration will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, at the Nature as Teacher Preserve for Education, 247 Chestnut Ferry Road, Camden. Enjoy community, food trucks and live music. Contact Leoncia Chanelle Cruz at (610) 715-2788 or leoncic@clemson.edu. Visit https://natureasteacher.myportfolio.com/ for more details.

Camden Junior Welfare League Garden Party Antique and Artisan Market

The event will be held Saturday-Sunday, May 6-7, at the Camden Shrine Club, 1381 Kershaw Highway, Camden.

Annual Jim Smith Memorial Rodeo

The event will be held Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, at Outlaw Arena, 1591 Bishopville Highway, Camden. Gates open at 6 p.m. Events will include bronc riding, barrel racing, pole bending, calf roping, goat tying and bull riding. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 5-10 years old and free for children under 5. Cash only at the gate.

A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 7 6 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE

Springtime Festivals

Striped Bass Festival

When: April 15, April 21-22

Where: Manning

sorely missed during the pandemic years.

According to Jennie Lee, Chamber director, the festival began in 1980 to showcase all Clarendon County has to offer while paying tribute to one of the many local attractions – the Santee Cooper Lakes.

From the swamp to the lake, from fish to birds to flowers, spring in the Midlands means it's festival season. Lakeside has your guide to your calendar of fun in Sumter and Clarendon counties.

Following are a selected group of events coming up in April and May. Information and schedules are subject to change. For a more expansive list, see the Events Pages at the beginning of this magazine.

Bass fishing season is here, and Clarendon County is ready to hold the 43rd-annual Striped Bass Festival.

After the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down in 2020 and 2021, the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce brought the tournament and festival back in 2022. This year’s rendition is being hyped in the same way.

The Striped Bass Festival is said to include one of the most popular fishing tournaments in the area and brings in such high numbers of tourists – and their spending – to Clarendon that it was

“There are three festivals held in Clarendon County; Duckfest is held in Summerton, and the Puddin’ Swamp Festival is held in Turbeville. The Striped Bass Festival is the longest-running and tends to attract the largest crowd of the three festivals,” Lee said.

On April 15 and from April 21-22, Clarendon residents, out-of-towners and people from different states will come together for three days of festivities from a race to fishing competitions, music and more. Even past events are making a comeback this year, according to Carrie Anna Strange, festival chair.

The week kicks off with the Striped Bass Festival Dam Run 5K at the Santee Dam, starting at 7 a.m on April 15. This event used to be a part of the festivities and is being brought back. While some are off in their running shoes, others will be attending the fishing competition at 7 a.m. The Santee Cooper Open Team

Tournament will blast off early in the morning at John C. Land lll Sports Fishing Facility and will have the weigh-in portion at 3 p.m. The festival will kick right back into gear at 6:30 p.m. on April 21 with food vendors, festival rides and live music by Flashback at the gazebo in Manning.

But don’t stay out too late or you might miss the other biggest event of the week, the Striped Bass Festival Parade on April 22. Brooks Street in Manning will be lined with people from all over at 10 a.m. to see floats flood the streets.

When the parade comes to an end, there is one last event for people to enjoy.

“My favorite part of the festival is gathering on the courthouse square after the parade to enjoy festival food treats and catch up with friends and neighbors that don’t get to see as often as I would like,” Lee said.

Learn More

A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 9 8 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE Bassmaster Elite Series • Birdfest • Iris Festival • Puddin' Swamp • Striped Bass Festival Theitem.com Your Guide to
For more information, contact the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce or go to their Facebook page @ClarendonSCChamber.

STRIPEDBASSFESTIVAL FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

Saturday, April 15

Striped Bass Festival Dam Run 5K – sponsored by Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce and McLeod Health Clarendon

Where: Santee Dam, 1022 Randolph's Landing Way, Manning

When: 7 a.m.

Shirts: Available with pre-registration until April 7 with limited shirt sales available the day of the event

Awards: Top 3 male and female overall; Top male and female in each age group

Age groups: Under 14, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+

Registration: $30

Special notes: Strollers are welcome (gravel path); pets welcome on a leash; runners may listen to music.

Parking: Borrow Pit Landing, 1022 Randolph’s Landing Way, Manning)

Santee Cooper Open Team Tournament – sponsored by Santee Cooper

Where: John C. Land III Sports Fishing Facility, 4404 Greenall Road, Summerton

Blast off: 7 a.m.

Weigh-in: 3 p.m.

Friday, April 21

Opening Ceremonies

Where: Gazebo in Manning

When: 6:30 p.m. Music by Flashback. Food, rides, vendors

Saturday, April 22

Striped Bass Festival Parade

Where: Brooks Street in Manning

When: 10 a.m.

Striped Bass Festival Super Saturday

Where: Courthouse square

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sumter Cruisers Car Show & Children’s Art Show Vendors, food trucks and rides

Need a T-Shirt?

This year’s Striped Bass Festival T-shirt is available for purchase at the festival or ahead of time at the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce.

A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 11 10 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE

Puddin’ Swamp Festival

When: April 14-15 Where: Turbeville

The name Puddin’ Swamp might mean something different to different people, but this is what it is at its heart: a huge family reunion for a small town in Clarendon County.

Even those who have lived in Turbeville all of their lives don’t know for sure where the name Puddin' Swamp originates from. The lore adds to the fun.

“The Puddin’ Swamp Festival has almost morphed into more of a reunion for the residents of the area,” said Jennifer Windham, festival chair. “We of course love our visitors that come in from all over the state, but to see friends and family and classmates that we don’t see regularly is just an added bonus.”

Taking place in the town square, two days of festivities will feature rides, vendors and events all a short walk from each other.

“One of the things many love is the fact that everything is located right there in the middle of town,” Windham said. “Past organizers knew that it's more enjoyable for the families if they can utilize all the fun right there.”

The first day, Friday, April 14, will feature a parade down Main Street beginning at 5:30 p.m. with a “Unique Your Jeep” contest. From 8 to 11 p.m., Terence Lonon and the Untouchables will take the stage with the Sumter Shag Club helping

PUDDIN’SWAMPFESTIVAL FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

Friday, April 14

5:30 p.m. – Parade

8-11 p.m. – Terence Lonon and the Untouchables

8 p.m. – Sumter Shag Club

Saturday, April 15

10 a.m.-3 p.m. – Festival

11 a.m. – Kelly’s Fine Arts Dance Studio

Noon – Dancing on Main Dance Studio

2-4 p.m. – Mudflap and Palmer Radio personalities meet and greet

3-4 p.m. – High Ridge Bluegrass Gospel Band

5:30 p.m. – 2023 Miss Swamp Bottom “Beauty” Pageant to benefit the Omar Jets

DJ music by Carolina Cruisin following the pageant

9:30 p.m. – Fireworks Finale. Laser tag, balloon art and face painter most of the day. Rides and great food all day.

to get the party started.

Saturday’s events begin at 10 a.m. with rides and food vendors. Festival goers can enjoy craft vendors until 3 p.m., a “Stuff the Bus” event to benefit Turbeville Children’s Home until 5 p.m. and so much more.

“Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, we've been able to bring this much-anticipated event to the community and our visitors each year as a celebration of what a small town still has to offer – a safe, family friendly atmosphere and an event that creates wonderful memories for our patrons,” Windham said.

Windham said her favorite part of the festival is making memories with friends, family and visitors from all over.

“We remember the children that rode the merry-go-round on town square at the very first festival, and now we see them as young parents bringing their own children to experience this event,” Windham said. “We love being a part of that tradition.”

Festival T-shirts with this design are for sale!

They are $17 each, but if you want two for $22, go by The Citizens Bank in Turbeville and check for your desired size in bundle form.

12 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE

Sumter Iris Festival

When: May 25-28

Where: Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter

The festival will kick off on the evening of Thursday, May 25, with Taste at the Gardens from 6-8:30 p.m. with the theme “A Night Out in Rio.” DJ Howie D will be the entertainment.

“The difference with this year is it’s free admission,” Milan said.

During Taste at the Gardens, this year’s Iris Festival king and queen will be crowned, and there will be a ribbon cutting to officially start the festival. Boat rides on the lake will also begin that evening.

SUMTERIRISFESTIVAL FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

SATURDAY, APRIL 29

Iris Festival Pageant

Where: Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St.

When: 10:30 a.m.

Thursday, May 25

Opening Ceremony and Taste at the Gardens

Where: Garden Street Gate

When: 6-8:30 p.m.

Crowning of Iris Festival King and Queen; Boat rides begin

Sumter’s world-class flowers will soon be in full bloom to brighten the city’s annual Iris Festival.

Thousands have journeyed to Sumter’s Swan Lake Iris Gardens to see its Japanese irises and celebrate with a four-day Memorial Day weekend filled with garden walks, vendors, music, arts and crafts, antique and classic car shows, contests and children's activities. This year will mark the 81st rendition of South Carolina’s oldest continuous festival.

Kristin Milan, Iris Festival chair and tourism manager for the City of Sumter, said this year’s activities will include some new features throughout the weekend. “A couple things we already started to highlight. We’re going to have a new layout, somewhat new layout, because we are only using the east side of the park, so both sides of the lake,” Milan said. “So, from Garden Street to the main entrance.”

Friday, May 26 Festival

Where: All gates open

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Saturday, May 27

17th-annual Shrine Day Parade, Sumter County Civic Center to USC Sumter

When: 10 a.m. (Festival open 10 a.m.-6 p.m.)

Sunday, May 28

Festival

Where: All gates open

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

From May 26-28, the park will be open with food and merchandise, vendors and artists, live entertainment, a petting zoo, photo booths, flower shows and more. Car shows will be held at the Heath Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday. The carousel will make its return to the gardens on Saturday and Sunday. New activities include human bowling and inflatable axe throwing that will occur on all three days on the Garden Street side of the park, Milan said. “The really great thing is once you

park, you are in the festival. It is definitely going to cover a lot more of the grounds when you walk in,” she said.

Milan encouraged everyone to attend this year’s festival and enjoy a day, or two or four, in the gardens.

“Definitely come out,” Milan said. “There will be local vendors that we all know and love, but it’s going to be blended in with a lot more, new things to see.”

There will also be other art and cultural events happening around Sumter Memorial Day weekend, from local theater to live music. The Sumter Item, which is a sponsor of the festival, will produce and publish a full schedule in the newspaper and the official festival guide, which is handed out at the event and sent to Item subscribers.

A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 15 14 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE
Associates
Great team of Real Estate professionals ready to help you buy/sell your Lake Marion (North & South Shore) property. Call one our iendly agents to i you! Karen Hardman Catherine Shuler • Maggie Griffin Donna O’Neill • Cindy Ott 803-854-3000 or 1-800-476-0059 Buck Travis (Owner), Sc Clark (B.I.C.) El ha Travis (O ce Coordinator) Large Enough to Serve You, Small Enough to Know You! ELLIOTT’S LANDING & CAMPGROUND 2010 Elliott’s Landing Rd. Pinewood, SC 29125 (803) 452-5336 • 30/50 Amp Power Box • 47 Campsites • Full Hookups • Two Bath Houses • 300 ft.Fishing Pier • Camp Store On Site • FREE Wi-Fi • Boat Rentals Available 9am-6pm Tues.-Sat. • www.elliottscampground.com Alice Weathersbee, Owner Located On Lake Marion At Rimini LIVE CRAWFISH Available April-June 30th ESSENTIALLY LOCAL. AUTHENTICALLY SUMTER. The Sumter Item is the only source of daily local news in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee counties. We hold the powerful accountable and help you make informed decisions, celebrate your wins and educate your children, all to live your best life. Without us, your stories would often go untold. Sign up for The Sumter Item’s free email newsletter. www.theitem.com/newsletter
Santee
Realty

Fishing is one of the most popular sports in Clarendon County, thanks to the Santee Cooper Lakes. After not visiting the waters of Marion and Moultrie for 14 years, the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament, which helped put the area on the fishing map, has in recent years made its return.

“After 2006, there was the very large gap before the Elite Series returned to Clarendon

Bassmaster Elite Series

When: April 27-30

Santee Cooper Lakes, Clarendon County

Santee Cooper Lakes was the first true event after COVID, and it was one for the record books,” Surette said.

Drew Cook, an Elite Series Angler from Georgia, took home the victory with a four-day, 20-fish total of 105 pounds and 5 ounces.

“His performance truly showcased the big fish capabilities of our lakes,” Surette said. “The livestream and television coverage garnered over 17 million minutes viewed, and the Outdoors Expo and weigh-ins welcomes thousands in person,” Surette said. “This year, we are hoping to grow those numbers with another great event.”

Anglers will be on the water starting Monday, April 24, for practice, but the official tournament begins Thursday, April 27, with all 104 anglers fishing both Thursday and Friday.

The anglers with the top 50 weigh-ins will fish in the semi-finals on Saturday, April 29, and the top 10 will compete on Championship Sunday. During the tournament on these days, the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce and Bassmaster will host an Outdoors Expo from noon to 6 p.m. at the John C. Land Sports Facility in Summerton.

“There will be live music, food trucks, local outdoor vendors and boat demo rides available,” Surette said. “Fun for the whole family!”

Surette said Clarendon County should be thankful for this event and many others that bring tourism to the county and spend money, and he believes the impact is not lost on locals.

“Not only do these anglers showcase one of the best bass fishing lakes in the nation, but they also help support businesses during their time in the area,” he said.

He said the tournament provides the biggest economic impact during the week of the event as well as elongated exposure and return visits for the weeks and months after.

“I always say that my opinion of Clarendon County is biased after growing up here my whole life,” he said, “but all of the great things these folks have to say and their desire to come back year after year truly speaks volumes.”

BASSMASTERELITESERIES FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

When: April 27-30

County consistently starting in 2020,” said Jesse Surette, director of tourism. “I have been wondering about that gap, but the team before me really picked up the desire to go after Bassmaster. They worked hard to track everyone down, and both entities have since seen the huge benefit for this event with fishing and the local economics.”

Surette said he is excited to welcome the four-day series back for the third time in four years.

“The 2023 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Series

on the Santee Cooper Lakes will welcome 104 of the nation’s top anglers right here to Clarendon County to compete for the firstplace price of $100,000,” he said.

After the grand prize, the top 10 anglers will win in increments down to $15,000.

If you think 104 is a lot of people gathered in one space, imagine around 2,000 people moving on and off the docks and the lake just to spectate, along with vendors, judges and staff on shore.

“The 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series on the

Where: John C. Land, III Boating & Sports Fishing Facility, Santee Cooper Lakes, Clarendon County

Details: For spectators, weigh-ins and an Outdoor Expo will be at the landing, featuring live music, food vendors, outdoor vendors and boat demo rides

16 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE
By Ashley Miller
Not only do these anglers showcase one of the best bass fishing lakes in the nation, but they also help support businesses during their time in the area.
“ —JesseSurette

Birdfest Music Festival

When: May 5-6 Where: Pinewood

What once was a small bluegrass get-together has transformed into a full-fledged festival that is soaring to new heights in 2023.

Birdfest Music Festival started out as a party in its early years, beginning in 2002, Festival Director Barrett Smith said. For many years, the bluegrass festival brought musiclovers and folks together from all over South Carolina – and beyond – to enjoy an unforgettable weekend of good times and great music in Pinewood.

Through word of mouth, the festival grew gradually, turning the “ramshackle” get-together into a ticketed event that welcomed an estimated 1,500 attendees.

Then COVID-19 happened.

For three years, Smith and the Birdfest committee watched as the world around them changed, wondering how they would adapt and still put on a bigger and better event.

What better way to do that than with a bigger and better venue?

For its first year back since the pandemic, the 19th-annual Birdfest will be held at the Wildlife Education Center, known by many as Camp Woodie. The large pond, campsites and activities, like ziplining, swimming, fishing and wall climbing, made the facility the perfect site for the family friendly festival. Through partnering with the South Carolina Waterfowl Association, a portion of the proceeds with help fund the foundation’s wildlife education efforts.

With a larger venue, the festival will undergo changes. From its once small stage, a full production will be provided, including a big stage, big lights and big acts to take center stage.

This year’s lineup features headliner Steep Canyon Rangers, the Grammy-winning, Billboard chart-topping band from Asheville, North Carolina, that has collaborated with renowned banjoist Steve Martin; Town Mountain, another Asheville band whose “alt-country rebellion and honky-tonk

attitude” has them revered from coast to coast; Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, a powerhouse acoustic duo whose resumes include being a 15-time International Bluegrass Music Association Dobro Player of the Year and a Tennessee-born guitar prodigy who made his Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 11; Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters, hailing from Asheville with their nuanced, insightful and witty stories told through their lyrically driven country-rooted performances; Seth Walker, one of the most revered Americana artists in the U.S. as his “three-dimensional talent” combines melodies, lyrics and his “Gospel-drenched, Southern-inflected voice” with a true blue knack guitar playing; Henhouse Prowlers, whose 17 years of experience, 175 shows a year and unique mark left on over 25 countries has allowed them to bring traditional American music to places it’s never been; and Cosmic Possum, comprised of some of the greatest pickers from the Columbia area who will reunite to bring exciting, adventurous acoustic music.

Alongside its quality of music and family friendly atmosphere, Birdfest stands out among other festivals because of its long history and loyal following, according to Smith.

“It’s a bunch of people who came to the very first festival wanting to try it out and never stopped coming. The festival has got a very particular character that people just seem to really love, and it's a combination of the history, the following and a moment in the festival where we're really expanding all of the amenities and all the things that the festival has to offer,” he said. “This year in particular is a very potent combination of all the good things we've enjoyed over all the years and all of a sudden having access to just a great facility with so many activities and just a higher-quality experience. Everybody's just very excited about this year.”

This year, there will be 2,500 tickets available for

purchase, and they will only be available on-site if they don’t sell out ahead of time. There are five ticket options. Each offers admission, while two offer special perks and opportunities to make the most of your festival experience.

To purchase tickets or for more information, including about RV and tent camping, visit birdfestmusic.com.

BIRDFESTMUSIC FESTIVAL FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

When: May 5-6

Where: 8444 Old River Road, Pinewood

Gates: 10 a.m. Friday, 8 a.m. Saturday

Tickets: General admission 1 day, $55; General admission weekend, $100; VIP tickets, $300; Friends of Birdfest package, $1,000; RV weekend spot add-on, $250; Tent camping weekend spot add-on, $30; Children 12 and under free to general admission when accompanied by a paying adult.

Items allowed: Alcohol may be brought onsite in non-glass containers. Folding chairs and blankets that do not obstruct the view of others may be brought on site, must be removed daily. Coolers/backpacks will be checked.

Not allowed: Large umbrellas, illegal substances, firearms, pets (except service animals), video recording, audio recording, drones, bikes.

Food and beverages: Vendors will offer savory and sweet food options, as well as beer and non-alcoholic drinks. You may bring coolers with food and drinks, including alcohol, but it may be checked before entrance.

A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 19 18 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE
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EXPLODING

in popularity

Words and photos by Cal Cary

It’s not hunting. It’s not golfing. It’s a little of both, and the sport of shooting clays is getting traction with a range close to home.

Players call it “golf with a shotgun.”

Among other names such as skeet, trap, five-stand, clay pigeon shooting and sporting clays, it is the act of using a shotgun to obliterate an orange clay disk that has been flung through the air. The buzz is the sport is one of the fastest-growing in the United States. High schools in South Carolina have teams dedicated to it.

A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 25 24 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE

Local high schools Wilson Hall, Laurence Manning Academy, Thomas Sumter Academy, Cardinal Newman, Lugoff-Elgin and other clubs all come to Wateree Range to practice.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, which owns Wateree, also hosts its own qualifiers and tournaments for skeet, trap and sporting clays usually in the winter months.

“Clay shooting is probably the fastest-growing sport right now,” said Brent Hiott, Wilson Hall shooting sports coach.

Hiott said there were roughly 300 kids participating per tournament seven years ago. Now, it has reached about 800 per tournament. Just in the past year, participation has grown by 100.

Wilson Hall is one of the several schools with a competitive shooting team. They have 18 athletes. The team is split 50/50 boys and girls, and they take part in 10 tournaments a year. And outside of school, athletes can join organizations such as the SCDNR tournaments, The South Carolina Youth Shooting Foundation and National Sporting Clay Association for additional practice and help.

“The main focus is safety and how to use a gun,” Hiott said, “and a lot of it is getting kids outdoors.”

SHOOTING CLAYS 101

The history of shooting clays with a shotgun began in the 1700s in Great Britain. It was meant to teach shooting skills to sportsmen and provide hunters a recreational activity outside of hunting birds in the wild. The clay sports could simulate the game of hunting in a controlled manner similar to how pheasants, ducks and even rabbits move in nature. Over

the years, the sport has evolved to what it is today, where there are three main categories that can be played: trap, skeet and sporting clays.

There are differences between the three, as they each offer distinct experiences.

Trap and skeet are most often on a specific range with “houses” that throw the clays in various directions, similar to a batting cage or automatic tennis ball server, except not toward you. Sporting clays takes place across a field or in the woods. Trap and skeet are both recognized as official sports in the Summer Olympics.

In trap, the shooter stands in a semi-circular ring moving to five areas of fire. The clays

5 THING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

1. WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING

Visitors are required by law to bring their own eye and ear protection to be worn at all times on the range as well as their own guns and ammunition.

2.

PRICE

Rifle and pistol ranges are free, while the clay ranges have a $10 entry fee and cost $5 per 25 clays. The range accepts credit and debit cards only.

3.

HOW TO USE THE RANGE

The number of clays purchased are loaded onto a range card to be used at the stations, which allows the shooter to use the machines. The range card must be returned to the main building, and shooters sign out once they are finished.

4. AGE REQUIREMENT

An adult must accompany guests under the age of 16.

5. LOCATION AND HOURS

Wateree Range is at 14068 Garners Ferry Road, Eastover SC, 29044. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The range is closed on state holidays.

www.dnr.sc.gov/shooting/ranges

come out of the house at random heights and angles, and the designated shooter tries to hit 25 clays from 25 shot attempts from the five areas.

In skeet, the shooter moves to seven areas of shooting and attempts to hit two clays moving at the same time. The clays are shot out from the houses at 10 feet and 35 feet. The clays coming from these machines are known as high house and low house and can reach a maximum of 15 feet once the shooter reaches the middle of the circle. Like trap, the shooter gets 25 tries to hit 25 clays; 17 are singleflying clays while eight are shot two at once. In sporting clays, the course is set up separately from the semi-circle. Shooters take to the woods or a field with stations. Depending on the range, the sporting area could have anywhere from five to 18 stations, hence the saying “golf with a shotgun.” Although still competitive, shooters can casually walk through the woods to any station they choose and fire at whichever clays they prefer. Obstacles such as trees can get in the way of some targets, and depending on how the range is set up, the machines can throw the clays at an assortment of heights and angles. It is here where some machines can throw a clay that rolls across the ground to mimic a rabbit.

INTERESTED? HERE’S WHERE TO GO

So where does someone new to the sport or a familiar player find a range? The best place may be closer than you think.

Wateree Range is directly off U.S. 378. Bought by SCDNR in 2016, it is a public course featuring five arenas for trap and skeet shooting and eight stations for sporting clays. The arenas are laid out behind the main building with the standard semi-circular positions with houses on both sides. The sporting clay stations are in the woods close by and have two to three machines each with a nest to stand in while shooting. Wateree Range also offers a 100-yard rifle range and 25yard pistol range farther down the road.

Wateree spans 140 acres in Richland County. Since SCDNR bought the range, grants from the Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund have helped supply the funding to maintain the grounds of the shooting range.

The range sees about 1,800 to 2,000 visitors monthly with roughly three new shooters to the sport every weekend. And as the warm weather comes in, Gerard Givens with the range predicts those numbers will climb. When asked about the direction of shooting sports, Givens said he wants to continue to see younger generational interest. And as the sport grows, the funding can go toward more programs and amenities.

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The gals got their guns

Region seeing national trend of ladies movement in firearms for personal protection

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When Jenny Chapin earned her concealed weapons permit about 15 years ago, women gun owners were common. A growth trend has occurred in the last five years or so as women – more than ever – want to protect and empower themselves. More people have been showing interest in becoming gun owners and earning their concealed weapons permit. Ricochet Range, the lone indoor gun range in the greater Sumter region, has experienced that increase, and Lakeside decided to visit the range’s weekly Ladies Night event to get some perspectives on a growing trend of women gun owners.

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1410 U.S. 15 South, Sumter (803) 938-5713 www.ricochetrange.com

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Monday and Tuesday

Chapin, marketing manager at Ricochet on U.S. 15 South in Sumter, said the facility has about 480 female members across its monthly and annual membership categories. That represents roughly 40% of the range’s 1,200 members on its rolls. Sumter County is about 52% female.

Ricochet Range first opened for business about three years ago, and staff began a weekly Ladies Night last year. In the last few months, it has taken off, Chapin said. The event is 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, and women who are not members can shoot for $5 and get a free target. About eight to 10 women currently show up on Ladies Night, and an individual does not need a permit to shoot. They can bring a guest and even use a store rental if they do not own their own gun, she said. At times, ladies bring a group of women from work or even arrange a date night on the range with their significant other.

“And because Ladies Night is not a set time,” Chapin said, “they like being able to get off work, they come here, they get some ‘lead therapy,’ get their frustrations out and they go home.”

Ricochet also offers classes, which are a blend between the classroom setting and live firing line, and she said there is a growing number of women enrolling in the concealed weapons permit classes.

TESTIMONIES FROM THE RANGE

Ricochet members Rebekah Bishop and Candi Harris are sisters and grew up around guns since their father hunted regularly, they said. Both are gun owners and took their permit class at Ricochet about a year ago.

They enjoy interactions with the range’s staff members and appreciate their depth of educational knowledge, the sisters said, and also the fact that they can shoot yearround at the indoor facility. Both said with increased shootings and gun violence in town, their personal protection is important to them.

Bishop, 42, said her husband is in full support of her being a gun owner, and she wants to be able to keep her family safe.

Harris, 46, said neighborhood issues arise at times and she likes having a gun with her when she is at work by herself, either early in the morning or in the evening.

“It can be kind of scary when you are there alone, and there have been people who have come up to the back door and tried to open up the door and come in,” she said. “Then, when you go to see what is going on since it may be a coworker who

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forgot their key, and someone is standing there and trying to get you to open the door, it’s scary.”

Angela Hodge’s background is different. She did not grow up around guns, but now with the encouragement of her husband, Craig, she is also a gun owner for her personal protection and well-being, she said.

Like Bishop and Harris, Hodge also took her concealed weapons permit class at Ricochet about a year ago. She is not a range member yet but noted the staff has always made her feel comfortable.

Hodge, 43, and her husband visit Ricochet two or three times per month, and she said the $5 entry free and free target on Ladies Night is a nice incentive. Her husband, a long-time gun owner, has helped her train, and Hodge said she now really enjoys shooting.

She was not interested in guns 20 years ago and never could have imagined herself at a gun range.

“I would have never seen myself even picking up a gun and going out as a date night to the firing range,” Hodge said. “My date night consisted of dinner and maybe shopping. But now we have shifted, and I thoroughly enjoy it and the quality time as well.”

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depthsHowtophotographthe oftheuniverse

Astrophotographerscaptureunseenspace fromthebackwoodsofSouthCarolina

Photographers often find themselves searching for the best light – the golden hour. Hap Griffin has always been searching for no light, the darkest hour. What he refers to as “just on this side of black.” Griffin, a 64-year-old engineer with a passion for showcasing the infinite depths of the universe, found his perfect night sky, or his “side of black,” in rural South Carolina.

Words by Shelbie Goulding | Photos by Cal Cary

“This is not like taking snapshots. I take images that are hours long.”

Griffin is an astrophotographer who takes images of objects like stars, galaxies, planets and nebulas and more in deep space all from South Carolina soil. It was in the late '90s that he discovered this dream site, and he built a homemade observatory.

Five sheds purposefully built north to south sit in a row on a one-acre lot of farmland. With the simple press of a button, the roof slides back, revealing a night sky bursting with stars that shines down to the Earth’s surface and Griffin’s equipment.

Years ago, having an observatory as a homebase for his equipment was a dream. For a while, Griffin was stuck trekking mounts, computers and large telescopes back and forth in the middle of the night.

“That was a real pain to do because there’s so much to it. You’ve got tracking mounts that have to be aligned with the Earth’s axis very precisely.

You’ve got computers that run the camera. You’ve got a computer that runs the mount and all of this stuff,” he said. “It might take two to three hours to get set up and aligned.”

This resulted in less time to take a multitude of images to get the perfect shot.

“This is not like taking snapshots. I take images that are hours long. Exposures that usually take lots and lots of 10-minute exposures and stack them,” Griffin said. “Doing that on a portable situation was almost undoable.”

It took a couple years, but he found property close to home available for rent on Astromart, which is “eBay for astronomers,” Griffin said. The property owner, Gene Hunter, had 20 acres and cleared a one-acre lot for an observatory.

“He was basically looking for someone to share his dark sky site with him,” Griffin said.

Hunter is also an astronomy enthusiast. They realized they were the same age, had the same equipment and goals in astrophotography. Together, they designed a building to share. It wasn’t until 2000 that the observatory was ready to use.

“I thought this is the coolest thing because everything is already set up and ready to go. All I had to do is roll the roof back, turn things on and everything was already aligned and calibrated and ready to go,” Griffin said.

Both are members of the Midlands Astronomy Club in Columbia. Once they got the building complete, other South Carolina astronomical

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enthusiasts in the club became interested in their homemade observatory.

Griffin said their group went from two people with a single building to 10 individuals and five buildings on the one-acre lot.

“Most of us up here are astrophotographers. Some of the guys enjoy visual work as well, but there’s three of us, what I would call, world-class astrophotographers,” he said.

“Having an observatory,” said John Hodge, of Columbia, “we’ve had so much fun. We’ve seen a lot of stuff. We’ve done some good science, a lot of good education for folks.”

Griffin said Hodge does pure science work at the observatory. He is a college professor, retired pilot and a lawyer who was intrigued by the night sky since looking into his brother’s telescope in third grade.

“He likes to do studies of variable stars,” he said. “He charts the brightness graphs and submits his data to some of the schools and colleges that are studying those things.”

Hodge said there are three things that keep him active in this hobby. One is astrophotography while another is being a NASA volunteer, where he brings groups out to the observatory for educational purposes. His most active part of the hobby is data collection; he submits data to professional astronomers, specifically stars that change in brightness.

“This is a little sweet spot,” Hodge said about the observatory.

Griffin said he captures six images an hour in 10-minute increments. This can go on long into the night or sometimes for days. One of his longest projects was The Spaghetti Nebula in Taurus taken in December 2022. It took four nights to capture.

“Astronomy is the one thing where you are actually looking back in time,” Griffin said. “When we look at the moon, say for instance, that’s 240,000 miles away. Light travels 186 miles in a second, so we’re seeing the moon as it existed two-and-a-half seconds ago, or almost two seconds ago.

“Most of the stars you see at night are generally somewhere between one and 500 lightyears away, so we see how they existed back hundreds of years ago.”

His most distant shot was a quasar that was 8.5 billion lightyears away, he said. Griffin typically shoots galaxies that are up to 1,500 million lightyears away.

“I’m looking at light that’s more than half as old as the universe,” he said. “That just blows me away.”

STARGAZING BEGINNINGS

Griffin never studied astronomy. It was a hobby that started with his grandmother.

“When I was like 2 years old, she would take me out on the front porch and show me the moon and the stars and everything. A matter of fact, she said my first word was moon,” Griffin said.

As he got older, astronomy and electronics were his fascination. However, he followed a career path

A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 39 38 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE
THE SPAGHETTI NEBULA IN TAURUS

in electronics as an engineer with SCETV.

“The astronomy always was there, and I didn’t have a whole lot of time for it, but when I turned 40,” Griffin said, “I was going to get serious about this and buy me a decent telescope.”

In his search, he learned the art of astrophotography and thought it was something he could tackle based on his professional background. He got the ball rolling in the 2000s with the observatory and turned out to have success in the field – appearing in magazines and books, speaking at conferences across the country and winning the Clyde Tombaugh Award in 2012 for his “creative innovation in astronomy.”

“I got an award out in California because I had started a little business on the side modifying cameras to make them more sensitive to astronomy,” Griffin said.

In 2003, Griffin started Imagining Infinity, for which he makes DSLR camera modifications for astrophotographers by taking out the stock IR filter and replacing it with clear glass or another IR filter that is transparent to hydrogen-alpha, which is important to capture the red nebulosity in deep space that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye.

Griffin said he has done more than 4,000 camera modifications for astronomers across the world since he started the business.

However, Griffin is still in the business for his own photographs.

“I’m into it mostly for the deep space

astrophotography,” he said. “Things that are way outside of our solar system.

“I can’t think of anything that I’d rather be doing.”

Sumter’s BEST Butcher Shop

A girl and her fishing rod

Words by Alaysha Maple | Photos by Cal Cary and courtesy of Anastasia Patterson

The outdoors has been Anastasia Patterson’s solace from a young age. Before taking her first steps, she was decked out in camouflage for hunting or toting around her own fishing rod out with her dad. If she wasn’t outside, she was smiling for the cameras at pageants, flexing her athleticism on the tennis court or softball field or landing stunts as an AllAmerican cheerleader.

“But I always just wanted to go hunting and fishing,” she said, followed by laughter. “I'd go with my dad and his friends. I

started fishing tournaments from a young age, and I really think it's just something that the Lord put on my heart.”

After graduating from Thomas Sumter Academy, Patterson attended Presbyterian College where she helped establish the college’s bass fishing team. That collegiate fishing experience allowed her to make friends in the industry and taught her a lot of what she knows now, serving as a stepping stone to launch her career - which she said hasn’t taken off quite yet.

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“Everyone's like, ‘Oh, you've done all this really great stuff,’ and I’m like, ‘I know the Lord has great things in store,'” she said. “I say it all the time, but I’m really just getting started. have a lot of really big aspirations in the fishing industry and some might be really unrealistic, but I feel like there's no better time than the present, and even if the present is 50 years from now, I'm gonna run with that.”

For right now, the young bass fisher is about having a good time, making the most of the experience, like finishing second place on the USA Bass side of the 2022 ICAST Cup, and preparing to compete in Bassmaster Elites. Going into these competitions, Patterson gets her head in the game with a game plan and an arsenal of research on lake levels and past tournament wins.

Yet, on any given day, she will play on instinct. Many fishermen see the sport as mechanical by having to work one’s body, but the sport is mostly mental for Patterson.

This way of competing can help or hurt a fisherman, but she is a firm believer that if it feels right, what’s meant for you will be for you.

HEAD UP, HAMMER DOWN

When embarking on any journey, it’s either all or nothing. Patterson feels the most in her zone when she’s outside of her comfort zone as “I have nothing to lose,” she said.

Stereotypes and negative comments are not new to Patterson. She has been told she’s not special. She has been told women will never make it in the fishing

industry. Though there aren’t many women at the forefront, they make their mark on it in big and small ways. Whether it’s the lady at the desk answering questions and taking information for an upcoming tournament, or the female photographer waiting for that perfect moment to capture that big cast, or women like Christine Houston, Penny Berryman and Kathy Fennel - three female Bass Fishing Hall of Famers - there are women all over the industry.

Rather than fester on the negativity, she’d rather use it as fuel when competing and remain true to the reason she started fishing in the first place.

“I never wanted to fish to be known. I don't care if people know me or not. fish because I love it,” she said. “I’m always going to fish for sure, I just don't know in

A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 43 42 APRIL-MAY 2023 LAKESIDE

what capacity that's gonna look like, if I'll become a guide, if I'll do Bassmaster major league fishing; have no idea. It's kind of like wherever the Lord leads me and whatever works best for me.”

Breaking into the industry at a young age allotted Patterson various great experiences and even greater relationships that have shaped her, both personally and professionally. “This is not real life,” she’ll often say in disbelief. There have been times where she felt stuck, not having enough time or money to pour into the hobbies she loves. It’s in those time she feels “blessed and touched” by those she’s met in the fishing industry. “It doesn't even have to do with catching fish or cutting checks, that sort of thing. It’s really just being out in the nature in God's creation,” she said, looking out at the water. As cars drove past the Second Mill pond, she strained her ears to hear a bird’s sweet song or watch the geese paddle their way across the pond. “If we weren't talking out here or hearing the cars and stuff, it would just be silent and peaceful and it's like a joy; feel like I'm a lot happier person when I'm fishing.”

But there’s more to this young bass fisher than what meets the eye.

BEYOND THE ROD

On the other side of that college experience, Patterson was the event planner for her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, in fall 2014. Going from being an only child to living with six girls in one house was quite a transition - a fun one, she said.

“We’re all very much different but alike at the same time, and we're also really close now. I lived with four out of the six girls for three years,” she said. “Being an only child was a lot of fun, but also my friends really became my family. I'd always stay with my friends and their families, and I had a lot of friends even right here in Sumter whose parents fished or they had a pond or they had a boat, and we would go out all the time.”

Patterson’s plethora of interests keep her busy. Outside of her day jobs at Simpson Hardware and Sporting Goods and a local jewelry store, she also takes the near-hour drive to Clarendon Club in Summerton to help brides plan out their special dayregardless of whether it takes place on the vast property or not. Every now and then, she’ll hit the shops around South Carolina and parts of Georgia or dive into a good book - be it a new novel or the Bible - and participates in church camp every year.

Having her hand in everything was the norm in her household. She used the analogy of being like Hannah Montana - the famous Disney personality played by Miley Cyrus who was an average teen by day and an international pop star by night. For Patterson, there’s no singing involved; only traveling from Canada to Greece to Austria for leisure, or spending 34 days on a originally

intended eight-day trip to Savannah planning a wedding, or competing in fishing tournaments along the East Coast weekend after weekend. Where does one find the time to do so much?

A planner - Patterson’s planner, that is. Colorcoded and filled out weeks to months in advance. The saying “If they wanted to, they would” fits Patterson to a tee. Her desire to be available and involved comes at the price of having to sacrifice time for herself, but it’s one she’s willing to pay to do all that she loves.

THE HIGHER THE FISHING ROD, THE CLOSER YOU ARE TO GOD

Everything always leads back to fishing for Patterson.

An upcoming tournament? An opportunity to practice. A seminar on the importance of bass fishing history? An opportunity to learn. A stressful day at work? An opportunity to unwind. It will always be Patterson and her fishing rod. There is a beauty about Patterson's passion for fishing because it has nothing to do with fishing, really, but rather the joy she gets from it. Her fondest, and most eye-opening memory, was from the 2021 Bassmaster Classic. As others anticipated the announcement of the two winners on stage, her eyes were locked on Buck and Bass owner Will George.

“I'm looking at Will George with tears in his eyes, like a grown man, and it makes me get teary eyed because I'm like, oh my gosh, when you see someone else's passion and it's like the same as your own, it’s a really cool thing to see,” she said, wiping a fallen tear. “My goal is not to make more people fish; would love for more people to fish. But it's for more people to have the joy that I have from fishing. I feel so close to the Lord when I'm out in nature, and oftentimes you need a reminder of just how good your life really is.”

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