Charleston got its springtime/tourist season wake-up call this weekend as the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition took over the city. Congested traffic, packed restaurants, and filled hotels were the norm — a welcome change from a slow winter. On Thursday night, we checked out the Preview Night Gala and Sale at Charleston Place, where the grand ballroom upstairs was filled with an overwhelming amount of wildlife art that was up for bid. In gowns and tuxes for the most part, guests struggled to nosh on the plethora of food and hold onto their drinks, without the benefit of tables or chairs. I know of at least one person who spilled sauce down the front of her white dress (and her name was Erica). While the art wasn’t the most exciting, the people walking around with opossums, skunks, pelicans, and even an alligator kept things lively … as did the open bar. Sadly, we missed out on most of Friday’s events, which included all of the exhibits and demonstrations, a SEWE-themed King Street Stroll, and a big oyster roast. But we caught up on Saturday, which brought crowds out to Marion Square and Brittlebank Park all day long, despite the dreary weather. Marion Square was an animal-lover’s dream come true, with puppies galore, an albino alligator, camel rides, and baboons. Throughout the day, guests enjoyed free retriever and birds of prey demos. Over at Brittlebank Park, I discovered my new favorite spectator sport: DockDogs. A big pool was set up in the park, and an enthusiastic crowd gathered to watch dogs jump in with wild abandon … well, most of them. A few just stared into the pool with a “hell, no” look on their face. Saturday night’s soiree filled up the Bus Shed with a huge number of VIPs, plus plenty of meaty cuisine, oysters, and — my favorite part — a cookie bar. Sunday saw a repeat of the previous two days, which lasted until mid-afternoon. It’s safe to say Charleston enjoyed a pretty SEWE-et weekend. —EJ
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