Lakeside February - March, 2024

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Committing to their crafts RNR Equine Bass Pro Tour The Boykin spaniel Carolina Cup

Flourishing with florals

Make your special day or any event bloom with the passion and color behind Manning's GardenR/C HouseRaceway Floral Studio PLUS Bring out your inner child at Sumter CLARENDON • FLORENCE • KERSHAW • LEE • SUMTER

I have joy back in my life again. Thanks to Vascular Surgeon Dr. William Jackson, I can walk without pain. NANCY HOLLOMAN

Matters of the Heart At McLeod Health, we specialize in matters of the heart. Our expert and compassionate team of heart and vascular specialists use leading-edge technology and advanced surgical techniques to prevent, diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions. With McLeod, your heart is in the most capable and caring hands.

To find a McLeod cardiovascular physician, visit READ JIM’S STORY at READ NANCY’S STORY


The Litchfield company specializes in residential real estate sales. The Wyboo and Lake Marion offices have agents living in the area and are perfectly equipped to help you buy and sell your homes and land. Our experienced real estate team knows the geographical area like the back of their hand. Contact one of our knowledgeable agents for your real estate needs. “ You’ll be glad you did!”

Wyboo Sales Office

2538 Players Course Drive Manning SC 803-478-3337

Lake Marion Realty. 310 S Mill Street, Manning SC 803-433-7355

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about from the lake us COVER STORY

PUBLISHER Vince Johnson EDITOR Kayla Green


COPY EDITORS Rhonda Barrick Melanie Smith WRITERS Bryn Eddy Alaysha Maple Ashley Miller Bruce Mills PHOTOGRAPHY Adam Flash PUBLICATION DESIGN Micah Green Janel Strieter ADVERTISING / GRAPHIC DESIGN Cary Howard Janel Strieter ADVERTISING CONSULTANTS Karen Cave Devin McDonald Mark Pekuri

36 W. Liberty Street • Sumter, SC 29150 4 FEBRUARY / MARCH 2024 | LAKESIDE

on the cover Helen Brailsford poses at her shop in downtown Manning, Garden House Floral Studio. Brailsford specializes in floral arrangements of all kinds, from literal floral casket spreads for funerals to unique corsages for prom to “I’m Sorry” bouquets to help fellas smooth over their mess-ups and everything else in between. But one of her favorite occasions to arrange for is weddings. Photo by Adam Flash

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The Carolina Cup is set to return to Camden this spring


What legislators and locals are doing to combat the issue of abandoned boats


Meet the two men who became best friends over a shared hobby of coin collecting


25-year-old horse enthusiast turns passion into full-time job at riding center


Major League Fishing's Bass Pro Tour coming to Santee Cooper Lakes


Learn all about the Boykin spaniel and the breed's local roots

what’s inside




KERSHAW COUNTY Caring Hearts Benefit The Caring Hearts Benefit to raise funds for the United Way of Kershaw County’s New Day Transitional Housing and Homeless Services Program will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Camden City Arena, 420 Broad St., Camden. Event includes live music, open bar, food provided by Lilfred’s and a night of dancing. The Mike Veal Band of Atlanta will provide music. Visit https://www. for tickets. 8th-Annual Irish Fest Camden The 8th-Annual Irish Fest Camden, a four-day celebration of Irish and Celtic heritage, will be held Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 28-March 2. Festivities will include Irish bingo, the Irish Pub, a pub crawl, 5K and more. The Saturday, March 2, main event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Historic Camden, 222 Broad St., Camden, and will feature live Celtic music, Irish dancing, bagpipes and drums, Highland games, arts and crafts vendors, food trucks and more. Attendees of all ages will enjoy the majestic Irish Gypsy Vanner horses and the Irish Wolfhounds’ “Kiss Me I’m Irish” booth. There will also be an Irish whiskey tasting tent that will also feature a variety of Irish brews or green beer. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Market Day at the Revolutionary War Visitors Center Market Day at the Revolutionary War Visitors Center, 212 Broad St., Camden, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. Shop local artisans, play lawn games and enjoy local food. 2024 Tail Waggin’ Ball The 2024 Tail Waggin’ Ball to benefit the Kershaw County Humane Society will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, March 15, at the Bloomsbury, 1707 Lyttleton St., Camden. Tickets are on sale at 6 FEBRUARY / MARCH 2024 | LAKESIDE

2024 Rotary Wild Game Dinner & Auction The 2024 Rotary Wild Game Dinner & Auction will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, at the Camden City Arena, 420 Broad St., Camden. Visit events/wdE/ for tickets or information.

SUMTER COUNTY A Motown Revue A Motown Revue and Black History Month art exhibit will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, at Patriot Hall, 135 Haynsworth St. Visit or call (803) 436-2260 for information. The 2024 Rub O’ the Green Golf Tournament The event will be held on Friday, March 15, at Beech Creek Golf Course, 1800 Sam Gillespie Blvd. Registration/check-in and lunch will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. followed by a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. Space is limited to a maximum of 25 teams with four players per team. Visit https://business.sumterchamber. com/events/details/2024-rub-o-the-greengolf-tournament-presented-by-5128. Annual Barbecue Cook-Off benefiting Boy Scouts of America The event will be held Friday-Saturday, March 22-23, at the Sumter American Legion Fairgrounds, Sumter County Civic Center, 700 W. Liberty St. Wing ding will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday with barbecue tasting and competition being held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For information or tickets, visit www. 13th-Annual Sheep Shearing Day Old McCaskill’s Farm will hold its 13th-Annual Sheep Shearing Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, at 377 Cantey Lane, Rembert. This family friendly event provides an opportunity for visitors to learn about farm living. There will be border collie demos, horseback rides, hay rides, live bluegrass music and more. Visit or find Old McCaskill Farms on Facebook.

Sumter Springfest Local and out-of-town bands will unite to deliver an epic concert event with Sumter Springfest. Happening on Main Street in downtown Sumter, the event will be held from 2 to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. From mouth-watering hamburgers to fire-roasted pizza to a classy meal, there will be dining options available for whatever you may be craving. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https:// Swan Con Swan Con: Sumter’s Comic Arts Festival, presented by USC Sumter and the Sumter County Cultural Commission, will be held Friday and Saturday, March 29-30, at USC Sumter, 200 Miller Road. Celebrating all things geeky, nerdy and fantastical, this free event will feature collectibles, artwork, costumes and more. For event information or updates, follow on Facebook at Sumter SwanCon. The Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter The Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter will hold a pop-up community meet and greet from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Sumter County Public Library, 111 N. Harvin St. Residents of all ages are invited to drop by to enjoy refreshments while learning about free support services for anyone facing any type of dementia. Association staff and volunteers will be on hand to chat about care and support programs, advocacy efforts, fundraising events and volunteer opportunities. Registration is requested by calling (800) 2723900 or visiting . Sumter SwanCon Sumter SwanCon is back and better than ever. Presented by USC Sumter and the Sumter County Cultural Commission, SwanCon will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, at USC Sumter, 200 Miller Road. This family-friendly even will feature products and/or services related to comic books, comic strips, animation or other related pop culture items.

CLARENDON COUNTY Carolina Anglers Team Trail (C.A.T.T.) The Carolina Anglers Team Trail (C.A.T.T.) will host Qualifier #3 on Saturday, Feb. 17, on the Santee Cooper Lakes at the John C. Land III Sports Fishing Facility, 4404 Greenall Road, Summerton. Blastoff will be at 7 a.m. and weigh-in at 3 p.m. Major League Fishing – Bass Pro Tour: Stage Two The event will be held Tuesday-Sunday, Feb. 20-25, at the John C. Land III Sports Fishing Facility, 4404 Greenall Road, Summerton. Major League Fishing’s top anglers will compete in the event. Follow the action all week at www. Fishers of Men (FOM) The Fishers of Men (FOM) – South Carolina Lowcountry Trail, the FOM’s third event of the season, will be held Saturday, March 2, on the Santee Cooper Lakes at the John C. Land III Sports Fishing Facility, 4404 Greenall Road, Summerton. Blastoff will be at 7 a.m. and weigh-in at 3 p.m. Bass Kings Solo Trail Division The Carolina Anglers Team Trail (C.A.T.T.) will host its Bass Kings Solo Trail Division on Saturday, March 2, on the Santee Cooper Lakes at the John C. Land III Sports Fishing Facility, 4404 Greenall Road, Summerton. Blast off will be at 7 a.m. and weigh-in at 3 p.m. American Bass Anglers (ABA) trail Clarendon County will host the American Bass Anglers (ABA) trail on Sunday, March 3, at the John C. Land III Sports Fishing Facility, 4404 Greenall Road, Summerton. Blastoff will be at 7 a.m. and weigh-in at 3 p.m.

Bassmaster Opens – Division 1: Event 2 Santee Cooper Lakes The event will be held Thursday-Saturday, March 7-9, at the John C. Land III Sports Fishing Facility, 4404 Greenall Road, Summerton. More than 300 boaters and co-anglers will compete for a chance to earn their spot at the Bassmaster Classic. Blastoff will be at 7 a.m. and weigh-in at 3 p.m. each day. Visit www. . Carolina Anglers Team Trail (C.A.T.T.) Qualifier #4 The Carolina Anglers Team Trail (C.A.T.T.) will host Qualifier #4 on Saturday, March 23, on the Santee Cooper Lakes at the John C. Land III Sports Fishing Facility, 4404 Greenall Road, Summerton. Blastoff will be at 7 a.m. and weigh-in at 3 p.m. 16th-Annual Charity Golf Classic The 16th-Annual Charity Golf Classic to benefit the animals at A Second Chance Animal Shelter (ASCAS) will be held on Saturday, March 23, at Players Course at Wyboo, 1560 Players Course Drive, Manning. Registration will be held at 8 a.m., followed by 9 a.m. shotgun start. Cost is $40 per person for Players Course members and $55 for non-members. Entry forms can be found at A Second Chance Thrift Store in Manning, Players Course at Wyboo, The Shoppe on Brooks in Manning and Shared Treasures in Summerton. Call Herb Whetsell at (843) 5093737 or Mike Stegmoyer at (803) 460-0878. 2024 Clarendon County Kickoff Heart Walk The event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, at Pocotaligo River Health & Rehab Center. For details, contact Christina Darby at (803) 410-1067 or Christina.Darby@

FLORENCE COUNTY Palmetto Destruction Demolition Derby The event will be held Friday-Saturday, March 29-30, at the Florence Center, 3300 W. Radio Drive, Florence. Visit to purchase tickets.

S.C. GUN AND KNIFE SHOWS Jamil Temple Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 24-25, Jamil Temple, 206 Jamil Road, Columbia. Show hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 per person or $8 with military ID and children under 12 years of age admitted free with paid adult. Visit the South Carolina Arms Collectors Association at Call (803) 4639377 or email showdirector@scgunshows. com. South Carolina State Fairgrounds

Saturday-Sunday, March 16-17, South Carolina State Fairgrounds, 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia. Show hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 per person or $8 with military ID and children under 12 years of age admitted free with paid adult. Visit the South Carolina Arms Collectors Association at https://www. Call (803) 463-9377 or email

Exchange Park Fairgrounds

Saturday-Sunday, March 9-10, Exchange Park Fairgrounds, 9850 Highway 78, Ladson. Show hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 per person and children under 12 years of age admitted free. Visit Contact Mike Kent at (770) 630-7296 or email mike@mkshows. com.




KAREN CAVE (803) 774-1242

DEVIN MCDONALD (803) 983-0786

MARK PEKURI (803) 464-8917


Making a career out of a passion


Riley Robinson realizes dream of becoming a horse trainer amid Writing by Ashley Miller COVID-19 shutdown Photos by Adam Flash



s she hears the sound of hooves hitting the ground at a steady beat with a slight sound of leather cracking from the saddle and feels the warmth of the horse's body beneath her as it moves with grace, the world seems to blur around the horse rider, as the landscape invites her to explore the world together with her equine partner, giving both a sense of freedom and adrenaline in their souls. This feeling is what helped a little girl from Sumter discover her love and passion for horses, and she now shares that love as a trainer for horseback riding and competitions. Riley Robinson, a 25-year-old mother of one and soon to be two, didn’t think her hobby of horseback riding could become a full-time job until COVID-19 shut down the world. From a young age, about four or five years old, Robinson loved the thrill of riding on horses, learning how to communicate with them, caring for them and now training people of all ages. Although Robinson’s parents tried to get her away from the sport by putting her into volleyball, basketball and tennis, they knew their 14-year-old daughter couldn’t give it up. “I tried them all, and they [sports] were OK, but they were never my thing, and my parents realized quickly that I was into horses and it was not going anywhere,” she said. This is when Robinson got her first horse, Patches, whom she still has to this day. From there, she and Patches went on many adventures from horse shows to trail rides, riding competitions and more. “I continued to love them and grew my knowledge of them and my passion for them,” Robinson said. “And now it’s my full-time job.” Robinson graduated from Clemson University with her degree in Animal and Veterinary Sciences and came back home to Sumter and started using it for her full-time job. Her mother used to joke with friends and family about not letting Patches go to college


with Robinson because “my mom said I would never come see her if the horse went with me, so the horse stayed here.” She now owns RNR Equine, a horseback riding center on Havenwood Farm off Brewington Road. Robinson said she has about 25 students a week who range from three to 22 years old.


Robinson said she never thought this could turn into a full-time job until the COVID-19 pandemic happened. “Everything was shut down, and I had this passion and this want to share my love of this beautiful animal,” she said. So with the help of her best friend and owner of Havenwood Farm, Patricia Hiott, she now helps kids and young adults discover their love of the animal. Each student is put into different groups based on age and skill. The farm houses 15 horses of different breeds, and six are rotated through each lesson based on the students’ and the horses’ best skills -- barrel racing, show jumping, dressage and cross country. Sometimes Robinson takes her horses and

— RNR Equine 440 E. Brewington Road, Sumter (803) 468-3545

students on trail riding to get them used to riding on the animal in different settings. “I like seeing [horses’] expressions for new things, seeing the way they react,” said 11-year-old Ella Parrish. “It allows me to learn more about how to handle horses and their behaviors.” Georgia Baur, who is now 14 years old, started riding three years ago after attending a birthday party where there was horse riding and she fell in love with it. “My favorite thing besides riding is really learning all of the new disciplines and just learning about horses and how to take care of them,” Baur said. Robinson explained there is always more to learn, and she starts slowly with the student. With the younger students, she teaches them to care for the horses and spend time with them. As they get older, they get the power of the reins and learn the importance of being gentle, learning to communicate with their legs and “before you know it, they are on their own.” “Riley taught me to relax and remain calm with the horses, let them tell you if they are uncomfortable,” 11-year-old Emma Webber said. She also holds a camp during the summer for kids who might not be able to take lessons during the school year. Students can also enter competitions like barrel racing, waterglass racing and shows across the state. “My favorite thing to see is when a student comes out and they’re nervous about something or stressed, and week after week they struggle with it and it's hard for them,” she said. “Then all of a sudden the breakthrough happens and the light bulb goes off, and that fear turns into empowerment.”


“Just like a dog, [horses] definitely give warnings that you can see before something might happen,” Robinson said. “I learned horses can feel your heartbeat, so if you’re nervous they feel that and can become nervous,” Baur said. When teaching her students, Robinson always

With the younger students, she teaches them to care for the horses and spend time with them. As they get older, they get the power of the reins and learn the importance of being gentle, learning to communicate with their legs. A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 11

explains the signs the horses might give when they are uncomfortable, unhappy or distressed. “You can see it in their body language; they will talk just as much with their eyes, ears and legs just as much as we do with our words,” Robinson said. If a horse's ears are pinned back, like a dog, or their teeth are gritted, Robinson said it's a clear sign they are not happy. But when a rider is on the saddle

of a horse, typically they can feel when the horse is tense, or its back might be bunched up. “We always watch for those cues and pay attention to them to make sure they are comfortable and happy, and we are safe as riders,” she said. She stressed the importance of never standing behind a horse because they cannot see in front or behind them and it might scare them -- which causes them to buck with their legs. Always be cautious of where you stand because the person might not think they are sneaking up behind the horse or might scare them. “We never want to sneak up or scare them because they are flight animals. They have

instincts like dogs and humans to protect themselves,” she said. While a dog might not weigh more than 150 pounds, Robinson said her horses on the farm weigh about 800 to 1,000 pounds. “It depends on their build, but they are definitely heavy animals, and anything can happen, which is why safety is a huge priority for any age group that might want to ride or care for a horse,” she said. According to Dr. Stephen Peters, co-author of the book “Evidence-Based Horsemanship,” an issue some face with caring for a horse is forgetting horses are prey and not predatory animals. “Your horse is constantly asking, ‘Am I safe?’” Peters wrote in the book. Peters is a neuroscientist and horse brain researcher and said one of the biggest problems is that the only brain researchers have to compare to a horse's brain is our own. He said horses don’t have a big frontal lobe and can’t think abstractly. “Would you beat a child who couldn’t figure out a math problem?” he said in the book. “Of course you wouldn’t. Punishment in a horse's environment is a predatory threat.” Which is why Robinson stresses the importance of safety. She said they might give attitudes like dogs, but the difference is horses are most likely in some sort of distress rather than a dog who is playing around.


Robinson is glad she is able to work with her passion as her full-time job, but she feels as though it could have happened a lot sooner. When she first started RNR Equine, Robinson explained she never gave herself permission to “just do it and let it take off.”

When a student comes out and they’re nervous about something or stressed and week after week they struggle with it... Then all of a sudden the breakthrough happens and the light bulb goes off... That fear turns into empowerment.


She always told herself her hobby could not turn into a full-time job and to not let herself get her hopes up. “I would tell my younger self now that I could have started this a long time ago and do it forever and to give myself permission to just let the Lord do his work,” she said. She wants others to know to never give up on a passion or a hobby. “To anyone wanting to teach, do it,” she said. “I am so overwhelmed, and there are not enough people in town that are willing to teach.” There are so many kids in the area who want to be able to learn horseback riding and eventually go into competitions, and she wants to give them all the opportunity. Once a little girl with hopes and dreams, she is now living out that passion right in Sumter and is not stopping any time soon. “It’s just home; this town will always be home,” she said. Robinson compared it to being in a stable for so long, not thinking she could turn her dream into reality, and now here she is, in the arena. “This truly is exactly where I want to be,” Robinson said.

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Bass Pro Tour coming to Sante


ee Cooper Lakes

Major League Fishing to create positive economic impact in Clarendon County Writing by Ashley Miller Photo by Cal Cary


he gentle rustle of leaves in the breeze, rippling water lapping against the shore and the occasional singing of birds overhead. The air carries the fresh scent of water mixed with the earthy aroma of nearby trees and vegetation. The serene, tranquil atmosphere invites you to pause and surround yourself with the peaceful beauty. Welcome to Santee lakes. Throughout the year, the lakes offer a quiet escape. However, the scene changes dramatically in mid-February when bass fishing enthusiasts from across the nation descend on these waters, transforming them into a bustling hub of activity. As anglers prepare for an upcoming bass-fishing tournament, the lakes will come alive with the excitement of competition. It's time to dust off the fishing rods, stock up on bait and gear up with new fishing equipment, as Clarendon County prepares to host bass-fishing tournaments. For the first time, the Santee Cooper lakes will host the world’s largest fishing tournament organization and premier outdoor entertainment brand – Stage Two of Major League Fishing’s 2024 Bass Pro Tour. Feb. 20-25, lakes Marion and Santee will welcome 80 elite anglers to compete on local waters. The Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event during which top professional bass anglers will compete for cash prizes, points in the Bally Bet Angler of the Year race and have the chance to qualify for REDCREST 2025 and the General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event. "We are proud to roll out a schedule with seven new destinations – including the Santee Cooper lakes – that have never before hosted a Bass Pro Tour event," Major League Fishing Executive Vice President and General Manager Kathy Fennel said. "Our MLF tournaments create exciting and compelling content for our fans and sponsors. This schedule shines a light on some locations that haven't hosted a major bass-fishing tournament in some time." Clarendon County Tourism Director Jesse Surette explained the MLF series rotates its tournament locations to provide fishing venues throughout the nation to share the spotlight. The Santee Cooper Lakes will be the only lakes in South Carolina included in the 2024 tour. Other locations on the 2024 Bass Pro Tour are in Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New York. Major League Fishing began with a group of professional anglers and the Outdoor Channel, each with a similar goal: to present the sport of competitive professional bass fishing in a way that the viewing public has never seen. According to Fennel, the first Major League Fishing event was filmed at Lake Amistad, Texas, in 2011 and aired on the Outdoor Channel in 2012. After years of success on the Outdoor Channel,


the anglers and MLF leaders decided to expand the league into a live tournament series. In 2018, the founders and leaders of MLF created the Bass Pro Tour, and 80 of the world’s best anglers made the commitment to compete in the first season with hopes of qualifying for REDCREST, the Bass Pro Tour Championship. This will be the sixth season of the Bass Pro Tour and will bring in roughly $1.8 million per event, which will positively impact Clarendon County’s economy. “Fishing is certainly a staple here in Clarendon County,” Surette said. The five-day event will be the second of seven stops for the Bass Pro Tour scheduled for the year with a unique feature of catch, weigh and release.


In the Bass Pro Tour format, 40 anglers in Group A compete in a two-day Qualifying Round on Tuesday and Thursday, while 40 anglers in Group B compete on Wednesday and Friday. The top 10 anglers from each group advance to the Saturday Knockout Round, where their weights are reset to zero. From there, the remaining 20 anglers compete to be among the top 10 and move on to Sunday's Championship Round. In the championship round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000. All MLF Bass Pro Tour Anglers begin each season with zero points. MLF Anglers may earn points at each Bass Pro Tour tournament according to their individual place finish. MLF Anglers must legally catch a scorable bass to earn points for each Bass Pro Tour tournament. Any angler who does not catch a scorable bass in a tournament will receive zero points for that tournament. Anglers compete for valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2025 championship and for requalification into the Bass Pro Tour. In addition, the top five pros based on Angler of the Year rank in the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals qualify for the 2025 Bass Pro Tour.


According to Bass Pro Tour Media and Marketing Coordinator Charity Muehlenweg, the organization has an extensive partnership with the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce and Santee Cooper Lakes. Not only will the Bass Pro Tour be in the county, but three more events will also be brought by the organization – the Phoenix Bass Fishing 16 FEBRUARY / MARCH 2024 | LAKESIDE

League qualifier in April, the Toyota Series in September and a BFL regional event in October. “The community of Clarendon County and Santee Cooper have a lot to offer our anglers, their families and MLF staff, which is evident by the world-class fishery,” Muehlenweg said. “In addition, Santee Cooper is a new venue for the Bass Pro Tour, which makes for exciting competition and compelling television and livestream shows for our fans.” Muehlenweg said local communities receive national exposure on the Discovery Channel and Outdoor Channel, with each host location being prominently featured in two two-hour episodes on Discovery in 2024 and re-airings on Outdoor in 2025. “As one of the five counties that borders the Santee Cooper Lakes, Clarendon County has historically done a great job of leaning into the world of bass fishing and providing a place for anglers and organizations to visit and showcase,” Surette said. “The Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour will join a long list of nationally recognized professional fishing trails that have made their way to Clarendon County, including the Bassmaster Elite Series three times in the last four years and the National Professional Fishing League last May.” From a tourism perspective, Surette explained bass fishing is one of the best returns on investment to the host community. Tournaments of this size can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the community immediately through lodging, dining, fuel and shopping with local retailers. Additionally, the longterm impact from national media exposure helps

put the Santee Cooper lakes on the minds of millions across the country. TV coverage of the Stage Two Knockout Round on Santee Cooper will air as a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, on Discovery, with the Championship Round premiering on Sept. 28. "We are excited to work with Major League Fishing to bring some of the top anglers in the world to fish one of the best fisheries in the nation and show them what Clarendon County and the Santee Cooper Lakes are all about," Surette said. "We're excited to welcome the anglers to Clarendon County."

WANNA WATCH? • Fans can attend the daily launch at 7:30 a.m. at John C. Land III Landing, 4404 Greenall Road in Summerton. • The MLF Fan Experience starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24 and 25. Watch the pros on MLF NOW! on the big screen; enjoy free food, a fishing derby, hourly giveaways, a free rod and reel to the first 50 kids 14 and under and get autographs from Bass Pro Tour finalists.

• In addition to the MLF Fan Experience, fans can watch the top 10 pros cross the stage at the Trophy Ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 4:30 p.m. • Fans can also watch the competition in real time on the MLF NOW! at on the final four days of the event or on the MLF app; available to download for free in the App Store.


Independently owned and operated by Chip Bracalente Photo courtesy of Major League Fishing

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803-410-0082 803-410-008 A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 19

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Up close with the Boykin The breed is rapidly growing in popularity and has been the South Carolina State Dog since 1985 Writing by Bruce Mills | Photos by Adam Flash 22 FEBRUARY / MARCH 2024 | LAKESIDE


t is a dog breed that is continually growing in popularity and has its regional origin in the crossroads community of Boykin in Kershaw County. It is described as compact and a good family pet but is also versatile and energetic as a bird-hunting dog. It is the Boykin spaniel. The Boykin is a young breed, only going back about a century to the early 1900s, born of one Camden-area man’s desire to create the perfect pup for hunting wild turkeys in the Wateree River Swamp, according to historical accounts. As the story goes, that man – Whittaker

Getting to know the Boykin spaniel Camden man introduces breed ot hunters dog lovers

Writing by Bruce Mills Photos by Adam Flash

“Whit” Boykin – of Boykin wanted a hunting companion that could travel easily in canoes and other small boats, and he bred his spaniel to be small and lightweight. It is said that this spaniel – who stands between 14 and 18 inches high and generally weighs 25 to 40 pounds – “doesn’t rock the boat.” The Boykin has also been the South Carolina State Dog since 1985. Lakeside recently studied up on the “little brown dog,” as many refer to it, and spent some time with duck hunter and Boykin owner Steven

Guzman of Clarendon County. Guzman, 44, has duck hunted since he was a teenager and has been involved with hunt tests since he was 15 when he worked for a professional dog trainer based out of Rembert. A Sumter native who lives in Alcolu now, Guzman has owned Boykins for five years and has two in Reece, a 5-year-old female, and her son, Chapo, who is about 2.5 years old. Reece is a two-time national champion in the novice and intermediate divisions of the Boykin Spaniel Society National Field Trial, while Chapo

won last year’s novice national championship. It is rare for female dogs to win championships, and Reece is arguably the top titled female Boykin in history, according to Guzman. Only 31 or 32 Boykins have achieved the title of American Kennel Club Master Hunter Retriever, and Reece is one of them, he said. (Reece is about 38 pounds and wears a pink collar, Guzman said, while Chapo is about 45 pounds and wears a green collar.)


BOYKIN Q&A Lakeside: What got you interested in Boykins? Answer from Guzman: “Oddly enough, a friend of mine called me about five years ago, and he had the pick of the litter of a dog, and it was a time when he just could not take the dog. So, he asked me if I wanted a Boykin spaniel, and I was like ‘Man, I really don’t.’ I really did not want one. But I just finally kind of caved in and said, ‘All right, I will take it,’ and I got Reece and started training her and running her in hunt tests and stuff like that, and we have accomplished a ton. As a matter of fact, Chapo is from Reece’s first litter of puppies, and when he won Novice Nationals, out of those 85 dogs in that competition, Chapo’s sister – the littermate – got second place. Out of 85 dogs, Reece’s first litter produced first and second in Novice Nationals. That is pretty good. I don’t own Chapo’s sister, Halo, but she got second place. And then I have been a Boykin fan ever since. “Not to sound petty, but some people said that Reece was just one of those dogs that was just good and anybody could train, so I was like, ‘I will keep Chapo, and I will do it again,’ and I have.” Lakeside: How would you describe a Boykin’s personality and why it is growing in popularity? Guzman: “I think people like them because they are just good little personality dogs. They are good house dogs because of their size.


Most Boykins are not getting over 50 pounds in weight. I would probably say most of them are in the size range of 30s to very low 40s (in pounds). They are energetic, and they also have a little grit about them with hunting. Boykins are obviously not as big and powerful as some of the other breeds like Labrador retrievers or golden retrievers. But they are a versatile little dog, where they can do a little bit of everything. They can be a good waterfowl dog for hunting the swamps in South Carolina – kind of like how they were created. But they are also good upland game dogs for flushing quail and pheasant to be shot. “Just their size makes them versatile dogs. “Most of them also have a good little off switch to make for good family pets. I can assure you that both of mine right now are in the house laying down on the couch and just relaxing. “I also have a very accomplished black lab, Dre, and he doesn’t have much of an off switch. All that dog cares about is going to go get something.” Lakeside: How do you hunt with your Boykins? Guzman: “I personally don’t upland hunt with my dogs or train for it. We kind of dove hunt, duck hunt, and I run the hunt tests and field trials with my dogs. Those field trials and hunt tests are designed more for duck-hunting scenarios. “This is kind of my biggest hobby, obviously, and

what I like to do. I love messing with the dogs, training them and having a good time with them. “People love to use them for dove hunting because that is a pretty big event in South Carolina, and it is so hot during dove season. They make a good dove hunting dog because it is better than having a black lab sit out in a 95-degree field.” Lakeside: How are they unique from other hunting dogs? Guzman: “Another breed of spaniel, such as the English cocker spaniel, would be a fair comparison for duck hunting, but a lot of the other breeds of hunting dogs are just bigger. And I think that is why people just like Boykins because of their size, and they can do a little bit of everything. Common hunting dogs include labs, golden retrievers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers – they are just all bigger dogs. And again, that is the difference; they are retrievers, whereas a Boykin is a spaniel and a smaller dog.”



The Boykin is rapidly becoming one of the most popular spaniels in the U.S. As of late January, the Boykin Spaniel Society – which is based in Camden – noted there were 47,084 registered Boykins. The total registry was 26,008 a decade ago in 2014, according to the society. Today, Boykins are registered in all 50 states, Canada and Mexico. At least half of all Boykins are in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Their coat is always a solid shade of brown, and Boykins have been recognized by the American Kennel Club since 2009. Like Guzman said, versatility in hunting is the Boykin’s hallmark. Described as eager-toplease pups, Boykins are easily trained and take readily to the field as upland game dogs for turkey hunting and flushing doves, according to Charleston magazine. With webbed feet and water-resistant coats, Boykins are strong swimmers and excellent retrievers for ducks and other waterfowl. Boykins thrive on human companionship and generally live in the house, the magazine added.


The Boykin spaniel national championship goes by the name the Boykin Spaniel Society National Field Trial and occurs annually in the Rembert/Boykin area. Boykins are divided into four divisions at the event to include puppy, novice, intermediate and open. Official judges score the dogs based on their marking ability at retrieving ducks from various distances, such as 40 and 90 yards, and which dog has the straightest line to the bird and back to its hunter, Guzman said. The field trials are in hayfields and are in and out of water. The top finisher in each division wins a national championship trophy, and second- through fourth-place finishers are awarded ribbons. The 2023 Boykin National Championships had 350 participating dogs from 17 states. Some divisions have more than 80 participants. This year’s National Field Trial will be April 4-7 in Kershaw County. For more information, go to boykinspaniel. org, which is the Boykin Spaniel Society official website.

2024 Boykin Spaniel National Championships April 4-7, 2024 26 FEBRUARY / MARCH 2024 | LAKESIDE

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Sumter coin collectors in it for the art, history and friendship


Writing by Bryn Eddy Photos by Adam Flash

anks don’t issue their own currency anymore, but at some point in history, likely between the mid-19th century and early 20th century, currency was printed in Washington, D.C., with the words “The National Bank of Sumter” on it. Then uncut sheets of these notes traveled to what was the Bank of Sumter on the corner of West Liberty and North Main streets. Today, it’s Grady Ervin & Co. It was in this building, however, that the bank’s cashier, who was local to Sumter, and the bank’s president signed their names on each one, whether $5 or $10 bills, that had the words “The National Bank of Sumter” on them, while other bills were 28 FEBRUARY / MARCH 2024 | LAKESIDE

We are temporary caretakers of these pieces of history “

stamped. These signed or stamped bills were then cut and entered the local economy, and who knows whose hands they passed through, but decades later, some of their journeys are still underway. Jeff Goodall and Mitchell Johnson, president and board member of the Sumter Coin Club, are careful to keep those Bank of Sumterissued bills (as well as numerous other notes and coins in their collections) safe and intact, as they’re well aware that the currency collectibles' life cycles do not end with them. “We are temporary caretakers of these pieces of history,” Jeff said. “These will be here after I'm gone for others to cherish, preserve and enjoy.” To Jeff and Mitch, coin collecting involves a lot of different passions. In every banknote and coin are bits of art and history. Many of these bills are incredibly detailed with drawings of people symbolizing abstract concepts. Jeff favors one that has a woman on it symbolizing history, and she holds a child close that symbolizes youth, showing him the U.S. Constitution, and despite the size of the bill, the words on the Constitution are legible. Analyzing these drawings is part of the fun of coin collecting. And part of the fun is also knowing the collectibles’ origins, but it’s also intriguing not knowing where they’ve been or who they’ve touched. “You have that in your hand, and you're thinking, ‘I wonder if Thomas Jefferson had this in his hand?’” Jeff said. “It's imagination, but you can connect it with history.” That curiosity and appreciation for art and history have been what has kept both men collecting for decades,

but only in the last few years did they find another reason to keep collecting: each other. “The biggest benefit from my viewpoint is the friendships you make,” Mitch said. “I don’t have a better friend than Jeff.” The two met at a Sumter Coin Club meeting when Jeff moved to the area about two years ago, and they became quick friends. A Sumter newbie and a Sumter oldie, Jeff and Mitch seldom miss the club’s monthly meetings, and they even make it to a few other meetings throughout the state and along the East Coast. They do this so often that they have a little routine of it. Jeff will pick up Mitch, who only lives half a mile away, and the two will start driving, only stopping for gas and to get two No. 1 Wendy’s meals with Cokes at a drive-through. At first, all their conversations were about coins, but with so much time on the road together, they learned about each other outside of collecting. They’ve talked of their wives, kids, loved ones who have passed and their careers. But what they do best, Jeff said, is “squabble over the price of coins.” They both hope that other coin collectors can find the same joy in it they do. And having numismatists (coin collectors) join the club — young or old, male or female — ­ is Jeff’s goal as president. “You think of coin collectors, and you think of a bunch of old guys like me and Mitch,” he said. “I want some 25-year-olds in there, a bunch from Shaw Air Force Base to show up and young people.” Sumter Coin Club is always accepting new attendees. They meet on the third Tuesday of every month at Patriot Park Pavilion at 7 p.m. “It’s for everyone,” Mitch said.


Throughout South Carolina, abandoned boats are causing issues. Writing by Bryn Eddy Photos courtesy of Wounded Nature-Working Veterans


hey are hazardous to boaters’ safety and the environment. Additionally, they are unsightly. “We have a real problem with abandoned vessels all over the state,” said state Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston. “It’s not just along the coast like a lot of people think. There is a lot of that happening in the Upstate and the Midlands as well.” Campsen, who chairs the House Fish, Game and Forestry Committee, is sponsoring the Waterways


Protection Act, which would provide a funding source to address this statewide issue. This would involve a $3 fee, called a waterways protection

fee, that would be included in boaters’ annual registration. Without this funding, abandoned vessels cannot be addressed in a timely

manner. There is a nonprofit called Wounded Nature that essentially has a waitlist on removing abandoned vessels. The organization is 14 years old and has removed 158 abandoned boats in the state, according to member Rudy Socha, but most of those removals have taken place along the coast. “But the problem is expanding inland,” Socha said. According to SCDNR Officer Ed Laney, Sumter County has had some abandoned houseboats removed in Sparkleberry Swamp, which

is a part of Lake Marion, but other than that, there are not any known abandoned vessels in Sumter County. Socha said there have been some in other parts of Lake Marion, possibly in Clarendon County. A lot of times when boats are abandoned, he said, the owners of the boat are not trackable, sometimes because they have died and sometimes because they never registered the boat and left it to sink. “Around 80% of abandoned boats are sailboats because they're not easy to trailer,” Socha said, noting that not all trailers fit all sailboats. “It's expensive to get rid of the boat.” The nonprofit Socha is a part of exists in advocacy for the environment because abandoned vessels are a huge source of water pollution. “A 30-foot sailboat contains about 9,000 pounds of fiberglass, lead, fuel and other debris,” he said. And deserted boats are a

hazard at night, Campsen noted. They’re not lit, so they could be sitting in a waterway and cause a crash. Some vessels are much harder to remove than others. Sometimes all it takes is a tugboat, while other times, the boats get beached and must be taken apart to remove. Either way, it's an expensive

process Campsen wants to address through the Waterways Protection Act. This bill, according to the South Carolina Legislature website, has passed the Senate and was sitting in committee in the House, as of the end of January. In the meantime, South Carolinians wanting to help


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Carolina Cup returning to Camden this spring, Colonial Cup coming back this fall Writing by Alaysha Maple | Photos by Micah Green


magine it: a crisp March day, the winter chill slowly melting away as the anticipation of spring rises. The air is filled with laughter, the clinking of glasses and the thundering of hooves. Dust off your saddles, grab hold of the reins, and get ready to ride as the 89th-Annual Carolina Cup Races returns to Camden. Dating to 1930, the annual event evolved into a rich tradition for Camden as a family friendly day of various events revolving around steeplechase racing. The annual event draws more than 40,000 fans from across the world to partake in the excitement surrounding the riveting sport and the extravagant festivities happening throughout the day. But those who organize and manage the event come from humble beginnings. Carolina Cup Racing Association Executive Director Toby Edwards fell into horse racing as

a high school student in the United Kingdom before moving to Camden in the early 1990s. After hanging up his riding boots, he took his expertise over to the managerial side, managing race meets – Carolina Cup being one of them. At Edwards’ side, Thomas Mullikin, chairman of the CCRA board, got a more local start to being a part of the Carolina Cup franchise. He started as a patron, tagging along at the event with family starting in 1977. His smile holding a nostalgic twinge, he spoke of the parties every night for a week leading up to the race and engaging with people from all over the world. “We’ve tried to carry that banner, and it’s a huge opportunity to join [and have] fellowship with people from around the state and around the country,” Mullikin expressed. The duo at the helm of organizing the event shared fond memories of people leaving


full – both their stomachs and their hearts – of Southern hospitality like they’d never experienced it before. To share in hugs, conversations and memory making with prominent people of South Carolina – Mullikin shared his heartfelt memory of Gov. Henry McMaster and Majority Whip and Sumter native U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn putting aside political differences and coming together with friends for a good time. But those good times took a brief hiatus in 2020, the cause being a worldwide pandemic that no one knew the true depths of. 34 FEBRUARY / MARCH 2024 | LAKESIDE

“We were well aware of COVID-19 but not aware of how it would impact us,” Edwards said. “We were full steam ahead until COVID-19 broke out in South Carolina right here in Camden. It quickly became very clear to us that it would not be the right thing to do to hold the races; we canceled them 12 days before the event.” With health care resources in the county and surrounding areas already feeling the stress of the unknown, the last thing CCRA wanted was to negatively affect people moving forward. During that year, the association implemented a policy

of refunding attendees 100% or rolling over their ticket purchase to the following year for the same space at the same price. The response was not what they expected. “We got a tremendous response, not just from general patrons, but also from our sponsors and partners involved,” Edwards shared. “Believe it or not, we came out of COVID-19 stronger and better than we did going in. It was a stressful time, but we pivoted and moved forward and ended up creating an even better experience for people as we came out of COVID-19. We were

If you can’t get enough of the races and are looking forward to the next one, look no further than the Carolina Cup Racing Association’s Colonial Cup returning this November. As the official “rite of fall,” the 49th running of the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup Races will take place Sunday, Nov. 17, 2024. The race underwent an eight-year hiatus for reasons that have been “cured,” according to Mullikin. “This is the Super Bowl of steeplechases; it’s the most important race in the country,” Mullikin praised. “We've got great sponsors coming together for the Colonial Cup to allow us to highlight the importance of the equestrian community in Camden and in South Carolina. We couldn't be prouder of what Toby and his staff – and let me just say him personally, all that he's invested in bringing this opportunity back to Camden in the great state of South Carolina.”

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS 9 a.m. | All gates open 9:15 a.m. | Paddock Shoppes & Vendor Village open 10 a.m. | Truvista Kids’ Zone open 11 a.m. | Hospitality Luncheon 11:30 a.m. | Hat contest judging 12:50 p.m. | Colors presentation 12:55 p.m. | National anthem 1 p.m. | Horses to the paddock 1:30 p.m. | Post time

the first large outdoor gathering when we came out of the protocols [to host], and it was hugely successful.” Which is why their yearlong planning, beginning the Monday after the last race, involves analyzing feedback from guests and sponsors to evolve and continue to earn the name “Best Outdoor Event in the Carolinas.” So don’t miss out on what’s to come at the 89th running of the Carolina Cup races on Saturday, March 30.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: • Attendees will be treated to six races, which are run to benefit the Health Resource District of Kershaw County, along with a day of tailgating, the opportunity to indulge in hospitality tents for a delicious lunch at Hospitality Terrace and diverse vendors for a great shopping experience at Vendors Village; • General Admission tickets grant access to the grounds, but there is no reserved seating with this ticket. You can explore the

Vendor Village, the Paddock Shoppes and visit all your friends at their tailgating spaces. However, you cannot enter the Grandstands or any of the Luncheon Tents with this ticket; • Children ages 12 and under enter for free; • Personal chairs are allowed, as long as they do not block guests’ view of the racecourse. • While there is no official dress code at the races, most women wear bright sundresses and hats while men wear dress shirts, slacks and often a bright-colored tie. There are a best dressed and best hat competition held each year, which you might just win, and; • The races will run rain or shine, but the association urges attendees to bring raincoats. “If they have not come to the Carolina Cup, they missed the very best of South Carolina where people come together as families - individual family units and as broader families in our community and our state - for a great day of hospitality and historic racing where they'll see the very best of horses and some of the greatest athletes on Earth, and eat some of the best food,” Mullikin assured. “We don't say enough good things about ourselves in South Carolina, and this event is something that really boasts the very best parts of our state; it's an amazing, good time and the official ‘rite of spring’ in the South - so come on out!” Ticket sales for the Carolina Cup began Feb. 1. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit and stay tuned to Carolina Cup on social media platforms for updates. A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 35

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By Alaysha Maple

The ring

– a crucial part of any wedding. Its presence symbolizes a profound commitment and tangible reminder of the love shared between two hearts. But the journey of purchasing this sentimental symbol can be both exciting and overwhelming – so let this list be your companion in the pursuit of finding the perfect fit. Kim Hatchell, sales manager at Galloway and Moseley Inc. in Sumter, offers various tips and advice for couples ahead of ring shopping, condensed into a new set of four Cs: carat, countdown, cost and collaboration.

The 4 Cs Carat – all the facets of a ring The traditional four Cs when it comes to ring shopping are cut, clarity, color and carat. Cut, which describes how the diamond’s surfaces have been cut into many different facets, is a crucial factor in the price of a diamond and affects its overall appearance. There are various cuts of diamonds – from oval cut to princess cut to cushion A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 39

cut – however, Hatchell suggests the classic round-cut diamonds, as light reflects off every facet, creating that beautiful sparkle. Of course, a bride can dream of a 24-carat ring adorning her sacred finger. But there are other stone options to choose from. Moissanite, a synthetic stone that works as a diamond simulant, and engineered diamonds, which are lab-grown diamonds, are both affordable alternatives to natural, mined diamonds. Once your cut is chosen and your diamond is dazzling, it’s time to pick a setting for the ring. Hatchell said common settings include solitaire, where the center diamond is held together by several small prongs; threestone setting, which feature a center stone nestled between two smaller stones on each side; halo setting, where a central stone is surrounded by smaller stones, creating a halolike effect; and a diamond setting, where the single diamond is in the center with smaller diamonds along the band. Regardless of what cut, clarity, color or carat you choose, knowing the basics of what it takes to make your dream ring a reality allows couples to come into the process on the right foot. Calendar – timeline for when to begin shopping for a ring Though rare, there are some couples who

walk into a jewelry store and purchase a ring right out of the display case. Other couples need more time to plan for their wedding bands; it all depends on the couple and their preferences. Galloway and Moseley makes custom rings, a process that Hatchell encouraged couples to come prepared for if that’s their chosen route when ring shopping. “A lot of times someone usually has a general idea of what they're looking for, and that's very helpful. If you have some kind of a picture or just an idea, even if you draw something for us, we can show you what we have, and you can say, ‘I like this on this ring, but this on this ring’ and put those two things together,” Hatchell explained. “We will do a computer image of a design for you to approve before we make it, and our jeweler or jewelers that we work with will create the perfect ring for you.” For a custom project, Hatchell suggested couples begin shopping and place orders four weeks before the wedding. Cost -Alongside carat, the biggest C that comes with a plethora of questions is cost. Couples wonder what a reasonable amount is to spend on rings. “There are a lot of options now; there’s layaway, there’s financing; we’re going to help you out as much as we can,” Hatchell said.

“Just do what works for you.” Galloway and Moseley’s wedding ring collections range from $2,900 to $15,000, according to Hatchell. She suggests treating this purchase like you would any big purchase – planning accordingly, saving money and pricing the item ahead of time. To get the most bang for your buck, regular checks and cleanings of your ring are recommended. While Galloway and Moseley offers complimentary cleaning for rings, regardless of whether they were purchased at their store, cleaning can also be done at home with appropriate jewelry cleaners or Windex; be sure to avoid using liquid dish soap or lotion while wearing your ring. Collaborate -As previously stated, the process of ring shopping can be exciting and overwhelming for everyone involved. But for the man and woman of the hour, it should be an experience both can look back on fondly. To do that, it is crucial that couples collaborate on their ideas before and during the entire process. “For happiness purposes, work together to an extent,” Hatchell offered with a warm smile. “It always works better if you know what each other wants and take that into consideration.”

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In full By Alaysha Maple

Manning Garden House Floral Studio’s Helen Brailsford talks passion and artistry of wedding bouquet designs


he experience starts at the vintage store display windows. A stroll through the streets of downtown Manning brings you across a trio of windows. Curiosity will be piqued at the intricate designs featuring florals of various shapes, sizes and shades, and it will be impossible to resist taking a peek inside. The tinkling of the bells overhead as the door opens harmonizes with the creak of the floorboards. The intimate lighting is low and the ceilings high, creating the perfect space and opportunity to explore what lies upon the dark wooden shelves along the walls. As you take in the sights of knickknacks surrounding bouquets replete with fragrant foliage, a soft sound in the form of a voice will come from the back of the store to greet you with a warm, “Hi, how can I help you?” The source? Helen Brailsford, owner of Garden House Floral Studio.


Blossoming roots

The spunky florist was only a petal when she got her start in the floral business. Her mother owned a flower shop in Moncks Corner, roughly 30 miles outside of Charleston. The detail-oriented hands of her mother were passed on to her, aiding her to work and manage several flower shops in her younger years. She would venture down to Beaufort – her “happy place” – where she met her husband, a native of Manning. “His brother owns D & H Bar-B-Que, and Brailsford Grocery actually is next door; the old Brailsford grocery, and that was his grandfather's, so that's what brought me here,” she said of how she came to reside in Manning. Once settled, Brailsford decided to plant her green thumb into Manning’s soil and opened up Garden House Floral Studio at 7 W. Boyce St. Previously housing the Brailsford Grocery until 1951, the building was home to Schwartz Men’s Clothing, operated by the Schwartz family for three generations. Upon closing their store in 2019, the Schwartz family wished Brailsford well on her business and befriending the community. So far, so good is how Brailsford would describe living among the “eclectic group of people,” enjoying the small-town vibes compared to the city vibes in Charleston. Casually running into friendly familiar faces on the street became the norm. Then came COVID-19. “During COVID-19, we were considered essential. I'm still not exactly sure why that was, but it is. We were very busy because people couldn't see each other, so they were sending things, which was a phenomenal time for most flower shops. It was growth, a lot of growth,” Brailsford shared. “But then the restrictions were lifted, so we’ve kind of moved back down to normal.” With the economy shift dragging into 2024, Brailsford and her staff have learned to maneuver in a different direction. Some days are slow. Other days, they can barely keep up with orders, leaving them wiped out once they’re in the comfort of their own home. But regardless of what life brings and how her profession of passion has to deal with the changing tides, it’s still “so far, so good.”

Petals and promises


Brailsford specializes in floral arrangements of all kinds, from literal floral casket spreads for funerals to unique corsages for prom to “I’m Sorry” bouquets to help fellas smooth over their mess-ups and everything else in between. But one of her favorite occasions to

arrange for is weddings. Her nearly four decades of experience allowed her to see a plethora of changes within the wedding industry, changes which she kept up with. In recent years, Brailsford noticed brides flocked to a garden-style bouquet, characterized by its loose and natural appearance, huge bouquets filled with various blooms, foliage and textures arranged to emulate the effortless beauty of freshly picked flowers. Another is a cascade bouquet, which takes on a waterfall-like appearance with flowers flowing gracefully downward. The arrangements are layered; shorter flowers form the upper portion, leading to longer cascading elements. Brailsford said these bouquets started to trend the past few years, and she is sure they will stick around for some time. As beautiful as they are, they are also expensive. But there are ways to cut the cost. “Let’s say peony is your favorite flower. We can always substitute a garden rose for a peony, and you've dropped your cost almost in half because peonies are very expensive,” she explained. “There’s just so many pretty flowers, so it’s up to the bride, what she's willing to do.” Brailsford likes to work with her brides, showing them how beautiful their dream bouquet can be with a few substitutes here and there. It’s not to deter them from making every element of the wedding of their dreams come true but to show them options that are available to them, as many brides are not aware of them. There was one instance where one of Brailsford’s brides was not satisfied with the floral arrangement. When it was expressed what she would like altered, Brailsford redid the bouquet right there on the spot, holding true to her goal of always making her brides happy. “And that’s what I did.”

Brides, bouquets and budgets

While the pretty petals and unique arrangements are wonderful, there’s a different green that brides have to come up with before the big day: money. Costs for wedding floral arrangements can range from $500 to $20,000 based on the couple’s preferences and plans. While some brides prefer to be early birds and book their wedding vendors nearly a year in advance, Brailsford suggested booking florists within nine months of the wedding. “To be so far out, anything can happen, and I would rather you be totally committed and ready to roll,” she said. “I’ve had that happen – a year and a half out, and the

personal flowers, so that’s a beautiful time,” Brailsford said with a smile.

Bells of Ireland

next thing you know, guess what? They're not getting married at all, and that's a horrible thing … not only is it sad for everybody involved, but especially the bride, so just take your time and make sure.” Researching florists and floral styles a year in advance to place the ideal wedding date in their heads isn’t a bad idea, according to Brailsford. If a venue has already been booked, it allows the florist to get an idea of the work they have cut out for them. Brailsford enjoys both small and large venues, each having its own charm, smaller venues being “sweeter” while the larger venues are “more fun because you have the ability to just do your thing and make it beautiful.” But regardless of the chosen florist, bouquet style or decorating opportunities, Brailsford spoke of the longevity of flowers, an area of contingency for some brides. They often worry about the flowers lasting well beyond the big day, but Brailsford said she is not in the business of preserving flowers, only keeping them alive in time for the wedding. If her brides are looking to keep their bouquets, she recommends various businesses that will do so, taking a creative approach of either drawing them, making pictures out of the flowers or arranging them in shadow boxes. However, if a bride is looking to get the most bang for her buck, Brailsford recommends silk flowers. “I know most people go, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t really like silks,’ but there are silks that are absolutely gorgeous, and you couldn’t tell them apart from the live flowers unless you were to touch them or drop them on the floor and see

they don’t shatter. There’s a lot of ways, so many different ways.” “The world is the limit” for brides today, and that includes wedding dates. Peak seasons for weddings, according to Brailsford, include fall, spring and – uniquely – Christmas. South Carolina summers can be relentless, and though everyone loves a June bride, Brailsford said many weddings happen in the cooler months or months when weather is at a happy medium, such as April or May. Fall time presents the perfect opportunity for an outside wedding, as temperatures range from mild to chilly. However, while Decembers can be cold, they also allow brides to cut costs, as churches and potential venues decorate for the Christmas holidays with poinsettias, bows and Christmas trees. “So, the bride only has to worry about her

With so much talk of flowers, it would be a crime not to ask Brailsford what her favorite flower is. Bells of Ireland, despite the name, is not native to Ireland and is known for its striking branches of cup-shaped calyces that surround perfectly delicate white flowers. They are a popular accent for bouquets and dried floral arrangements. But their beauty is much more skin – or petal – deep. The unique flowers symbolize good luck and abundant wealth and are associated with their namesake thanks to their vibrant green color reminiscent of the Emerald Isle and represent Irish charm and good luck. With so much meaning behind its origin, the question of why she favored such a flower seemed redundant but was still asked. Brailsford, through a warm smile, still decided to share. “Well, that man that I moved here for, he died. And when we were first dating, he called the flower shop I was working for and said, ‘She said she doesn't have a favorite flower, but I know that there's something that she really, really likes. Can y'all just get it and make her a big bouquet of it?’ And that's what it was.” As she wiped a small tear, it became clear that flowers are the bookmark for special occasions. Brides take pride in the size, structure and sentimental value their bouquets, boutonnieres and big displays bring to their big day – and that’s what Brailsford is in the business to do. She is in business to create meaningful and cherished moments through her floral designs, weaving stories and emotions into each petal, making them not just arrangements, but also living memories.

Looking to book Brailsford? Garden House Floral Studio Visit: 7 W. Boyce St. in Manning Call: (803) 566-3204 Search: Follow: Garden House Floral Studio on Facebook


Wedding Photographers Celebrating the love you two found for forever can be emotional and overwhelming in all the best, unforgettable ways, but it's the photo albums that will keep you remembering it like it was yesterday. A good photographer is critical to eternalizing your special day and for being able to share it with loved ones who were unable to make it and future family members who hadn't come along yet. Check out some local wedding photographers featured here.

Photos by Leah Daugherty

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The Hive:


Jennifer Saucier talks five things to know about The Hive @ Lavender Estates

By Alaysha Maple Busy, busy bees are what brides can be as they plan the wedding of their dreams. From flowers and decorations to dresses and a DJ, choosing them all can be tough, but here comes the really hard part: Where do you put them all? Jennifer Saucier, co-owner of The Hive @ Lavender Estates, offers a solution with five things to know about her venue, The Hive.

Buzzing beginnings If you’re looking for a local venue with a unique backstory, Saucier shared how she and her husband, Darrell, came to acquire their busy hive. Having retired from a North Carolina sheriff's office because of a line-of-duty injury, the Sauciers made their way from Weaverville, North Carolina, to Sumter – her husband’s hometown – and stumbled upon Lavender Estates at 1695 N. Main St. “The minute I walked on this property and I saw the front 11 acres, I knew that I was going to turn it into a wedding and event center,” she said. “Since I was about 20 or 21 years old, my fun job was planning events on the side; it was like my hobby. I would do it for family and friends ... [it’s] just something that I’ve always had a passion for and knew that would be our retirement job, so that’s how we opened The Hive.”

Inspired by the bees raised on their farm, the Sauciers got busy turning their acres of land into a buzzing hub for celebrations.

Beyond the Hive The atmosphere at The Hive is an effortless combination of rustic warmth and modern elegance. The venue, nestled on farmland, carries earthy undertones with silver and gray accents from the metal finishes and exposed rich wood, giving it a contemporary vibe. A total of 150 guests can be seated inside the venue, with endless opportunities for entertainment on the outside, from the front of the chapel to underneath the tree canopy to an open field that provides plenty of space for your imagination to run wild.

Buzzworthy choices The Hive doesn't just host events; it orchestrates experiences. Traditionally, couples can rent the venue and bring in their own planners and vendors. Or, if they’re looking for a one-stop shop for their big day, The Hive offers all-inclusive collections that cater to every taste. “We can create your entire event for you,” Saucier shared. The Hive has partnered with several vendors, including a florist, caterer, entertainment and even a baker, who are available to the couple – or any event host – to aid in making the festivities come to life.


Photos by Megan Manus

Pricing the buzz A big question – one that requires more than a response of yes or no – is how much does this venue cost? The cost of renting this hive of happiness starts at $3,199 – but there is a way to get more bang for your buck. The Hive offers couples an opportunity to personalize a collection to fit their needs for their big day. After choosing their starting collection, couples can add their food, DJ, entertainment – “you just add those pieces to it according to what you want your event to be,” Saucier said. The only mandatory buzz is that alcohol is provided by The Hive.

Have it @ The Hive Coming down off your buzz of all the venue has to offer, if The Hive sounds like where you want to host your wedding – or event – then make a beeline for booking! Reach out to the Sauciers at (803) 305-9376, email the duo at, or visit

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The Flower Shoppe of Manning 14 E. Keitt St., Manning, SC 29120www. Where You’re Planted A PUBLICATION OF THE SUMTER ITEM 51

Photo by Megan Manus Venue: Quixote Club

Venues view TO

Venue: Clarendon Club

Photo by Allison Eady Venue: La Piazza

Photo by Megan Manus Venue: Wagon Trail

Photo By: Megan Manus Venue: O'Donnell House

You don't have to travel out of town to get the wedding destination of your dreams. From an indoor arrangement with decorations galore to a rustic outdoor setting that is sure to stun in photos, make your wedding one to remember by holding it at one of these local spots. Bridlestone 920 E. Brewington Road, Sumter, SC 29150 Clarendon Club 1219 Dingle Pond Road, Summerton, SC 29148 La Piazza 35 S. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 Matrix Center 4648 Kingstree Hwy., Manning, SC 29102 Mill Creek Park 7995 Milford Plantation Road, Pinewood, SC 29125


Old McCaskill’s Farm 377 Cantey Lane, Rembert, SC 29128 Tanglewood Plantation 2100 SC-341, Lynchburg, SC 29080 The Cabin at Old Spur 750 Old Spur Road, Timmonsville, SC 29161 The HIVE @ Lavender Field Estate 1695 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29153 The O'Donnell House 120 E. Liberty St., Sumter, SC 29150

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