{ SC's July Calendar + Our Featured SC Event }

July 18  —  This year's July Calendar of SC Events is brought to you by Columbia's Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival at City Roots Farm. Presented by Sustainable Midlands, the festival is a celebration of locally grown food – the people who grow it, the restaurants that place it on their menus, the markets that sell it, and the people who eat it. Continuing its traditions of old-time festival fun, Tasty Tomato's programming includes a free heirloom tomato tasting, live music on two stages, local food, a craft beer garden, tomato bobbing, and the highly anticipated Tasty Tomato Contest! Festival food will feature local restaurants serving local food with a tomato theme!

{ Murrells Inlet – A Great Catch for Fish and Fun }

Summer is officially upon us, and the sea – and seafood – are calling. If you're looking for a fun way to spend July Fourth, look no further than Murrells Inlet, an historic fishing village located just south of Myrtle Beach. Murrells Inlet has long enjoyed a reputation for excellent dining, and in fact this small Grand Strand haunt has positioned itself, quite rightly, as the "Seafood Capital of South Carolina."

( Matt Trudeau of Murrells Inlet © Do Not Use Without Written Consent )

Uniquely situated for such an honor, Murrells Inlet lies between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic Ocean; it is further divided by its namesake creek, which gives fisherman three separate sources to pull from – black water, creek water, and deep water. Originally home to the Waccamaw Indians, Captain John Murrell (sometimes spelled Morrall) settled here in 1731. He was soon followed by many of the area's most well-known families, including the Flaggs and Allstons, who established prolific indigo and rice plantations during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many of these planters kept slaves called "creek boys" who collected bounties such as shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, and fish.

( Matt Trudeau of Murrells Inlet © Do Not Use Without Written Consent )

This epicurean appreciation soon gave rise to a fraternity called the Hot and Hot Club. During the first half of the 1800s, wealthy white males (including future South Carolina governor Robert Francis Withers Allston) would gather with their black boat hands each Friday, June through October, to fish and dine. Elaborate rules dictated which members were responsible for which dishes (and drinks!), and all contributed their day's catch to the meal, which could stretch long into the night.

( Matt Trudeau of Murrells Inlet © Do Not Use Without Written Consent )

Following the Civil War and the demise of rice culture, Murrells Inlet's economy evolved to rely on its estuarine environment. During a time when local seafood could not be safely shipped, people traveled to Murrells Inlet for rustic oyster roasts and fish fries, often hosted by the families of former planters. Over time the community became renowned for its fresh fare, and demand has never waned. Today Murrells Inlet continues to draw fans to its famous row of restaurants, many of which have thrived for generations.

( Matt Trudeau of Murrells Inlet © Do Not Use Without Written Consent )

Murrells Inlet is more than just salt water and seafood, of course. Please visit our complete guide to Murrells Inlet to learn more about the community's legendary landmarks, including the Marsh Walk, Goat Island, Crazy Sister Marina, Belin United Methodist Church, Brookgreen Gardens, Huntington Beach State Park, Atalya Castle, and the Hermitage – home to the ghost of Alice Flagg. Also helpful is our guide to Murrells Inlet hotels, which will make planning your trip a (summer's) breeze.

( Matt Trudeau of Murrells Inlet © Do Not Use Without Written Consent )

{ Matt Trudeau: A True Friend to the SC Picture Project }

This month we are pleased to introduce Matt Trudeau, the artist behind each of the photos above.

The enduring popularity of the Waccamaw Neck and Grand Strand keeps us in search of great photos to go with the fascinating history of the area. Fortunately for us, Matt Trudeau of Murrells Inlet has been contributing his work to the South Carolina Picture Project for years. His spectacular images, taken from beloved sites such as Brookgreen Gardens and the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk, give us a visual vacation to these timeless destinations.

Originally from the state of New York, Matt developed his talents as a photographer in the salt marshes of South Carolina. For those in search of a scenic escape to waters awash with plantation history, pirate lore, and pristine salt marsh vistas, visit Matt's photos within the South Carolina Picture Project.

( Matt Trudeau of Murrells Inlet © Do Not Use Without Written Consent )

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