When the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition hits town, there are only two things a local can do: Embrace it wholeheartedly or pretend like it’s not happening and stay far, far away from the peninsula. While we mostly avoided the downtown area’s traffic and parking nightmares during the day, we braved the crowds to attend SEWE’s evening events on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday night, King Street shops opened their doors for the SEWE Stroll. Wildlife artists like Sue Adair, Kelly Radding, and Gregory Johnson showed off their skills inside stores while strollers browsed and sipped adult beverages. The bourbon was flowing at Niche Interiors, which hosted a party for Buck-N-Rut tree stands featuring an elaborate set-up out back. Up the street, the Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast packed the Bus Shed with hordes of bivalve-lovin’ folks. Those not crowded around the bar or tables of steaming, stinky oysters browsed the silent auction items, ranging from wildlife art to antique bottles.

We returned to the Bus Shed Saturday night for the SEWE Soiree, known as one of the festival’s most popular events. We got a strong sense of déjà vu, but the music of Second Nature replaced the auctioneer’s drone, and a wider range of food was spread throughout the venue. Lines were long, but with a drink in hand the wait was bearable for Southern specialties like crawfish étoufée, fried catfish, and quail.

While we missed seeing the dock dogs, the birds of prey, and the camels, we got plenty of SEWE to tide us over until next January.

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