August 29, 2012 Little River, SC – NorthMyrtleBeachOnline.com - For the past 31 years the Annual Little River Crab festival has brought 20 to 25 thousand visitors a day to a two day event in early May. In December of last year, previous organizers announced this year’s event would not happen. A new organizing committee was formed, a festival director, Tracie Johnson, was hired, community involvement expanded and Horry County Government support was brought in.
This year’s event showcased fewer vendors, though not a lot less – 250 versus 275. Seafood was only available from the local waterfront restaurants – not from food vendors. The quality of the arts and crafts vendors was improved by being very selective and turning away a few. Leading up to the event, festival director, Tracie Johnson said, “The festival is not going to be a flea market, but a quality, somewhat upscale street festival.”
Shuttle buses ran between the festival and Lowes Foods, Hope Willard, the River Hills Medical Plaza and Collision Masters. The intent was to have a wait time around 4 to 5 minutes. More of the property owners along Mineola Avenue opened up their property to parking.
About 16 committee members met this past Tuesday at the CB Berry Community Center in Little River to celebrate a successful event and began planning for the 2013 event.
Harold Worley, Horry County Councilman representing District 1 which includes Little River, said, “The Crab Festival took in $191,010 and, after expenses, has a net profit of over $46,000. Because of start up expenses that occurred this year, we can fully expect to double that figure [net profit] next year.” Worley recommended that the committee keep 15% in reserve, make an allocation to the Little River Chamber and use the rest to benefit the community.
Worley suggested to the committee that they consider purchasing new video camera surveillance equipment and have them installed along the waterfront. The cameras could be part of a system that would be monitored by Horry County Public Safety 24/7. He said Paul Whitten, HC Public Safety Director and HC Councilman Paul Prince both support the recommendation. He suggested a cost sharing arrangement could be developed where County Government would pay half of the $20 thousand cost of a half dozen cameras and the committee would cover the remainder. Tracie Johnson said the only direct cost to a business was an installation fee; there would be no monthly monitoring fee. “That would be cheap policing,” added Worley.
L-R Hubert Bullard, Harold Worley, Tracie Johnson
Opened up to the floor, committee members suggested a wide range of organizations that are important to the community and should be considered. One suggestion was to set aside money each year to build a board walk similar to the one in Murrell’s Inlet. Programs like the Red Cross Rescue Racers, Welcome Home and Resource Center (a program for returning veterans) Turtle Run, and Sea Haven (crisis services for youth) among others were mentioned. Johnson said she would put together a list of non-profits in the area.
Asked whether portables should continue to be used or permanent public restrooms be considered, the group was set against permanent restrooms. The feeling was that it would the restaurants have their own restrooms so it was not necessary. Permanent public restaurants would just create year round problems. “Lots of bums, lots of homeless and crack heads would be attracted.”
Planning for next year began with suggestions that a fishing tournament be held in conjunction with the 2013 Little River Blue Crab Festival – not during the same weekend but on a nearby date.
Worley said, “We had money left over this year and will hopefully have more left over next year and have a better festival each year. We don’t have to be negative about the past; we are moving on looking to the future of the Blue Crab Festival.”
Hubert Bullard noted that the Festival has already received $10,000 in vendor fees for next year.
The next meeting was set for early November during which committee members will decide upon the allocations of the profit from the festival.