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It's the best of times and worst of times on Labor Day weekend in Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately, it's the unofficial end of the summer tourism season. But on the other hand, the Grand Strand celebrates the sad occasion by going out with a bang over the three-day weekend. From fireworks and food to concerts and competitions, Myrtle Beach is the place to be for Labor Day weekend. Here are five of the highlights of the holiday:
* Ninth Annual Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival: Kick the weekend off with three of the Grand Strand's favorite words. The Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival features exactly what one might expect - a festive atmosphere at Market Common's Grand Park with the sounds of beach, rock and country music while visitors dance on the lawn and the aroma of smoked meat in the air. The free event features all kinds of food and music, beginning Friday with Burgers N' Brews, a chicken wing cook-off, arts and crafts vendors and live music from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday kicks it up a notch at noon with the Kansas City BBQ Society Championship and barbecue tasting, a cruise-in car show, a corn-hole contest, more live music and a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m.
* Hot Summer Nights Festival: The summer-long concert series comes to a close over the final five days leading up to Labor Day, beginning with Wednesday night's concert featuring the Grocery Store Gentlemen, followed by a fireworks show over the Atlantic Ocean. Hip-hop act Hipslack hits the stage Thursday night, and Boardwalk Elvis and other performers entertain the crowd on Friday, while Saturday sees popular New Orleans funk act Gravy play the Plyler Park stage before with another pyrotechnics display at 10 p.m.
* Labor Day Weekend Extravaganza: Broadway at the Beach celebrates in style with this two-day festival. Live music and entertainers and a spectacular fireworks show over Lake Broadway make for a perfect way to spend Labor Day weekend. Friday's lineup features music by the Beach Brass Quintet Strolling Band, Live Statues, Mr. Nigel's Music, Austin Mowery and a Michael Jackson tribute by the Legends in Concert performer. Saturday has the Southern Company Dance Performances, Beach Brass String Quartet, and Chyanne Rose. A fireworks display concludes the festival at 10 p.m.
* Derrick Law Firm Carolina Kickoff Clash: Labor Day weekend is also the traditional kickoff of football season, and the Grand Strand gets its started in style at this high school pigskin special. Five games over three days at two stadiums will feature top teams from North Carolina against South Carolina state powers. On Thursday night, defending state champion Myrtle Beach welcomes West Brunswick (NC) to Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium, while Conway hosts Wilmington (NC) Hoggard at The Backyard. Both games are at 7:30 p.m. The other three games will be played at Shaw Stadium in Myrtle Beach - Richmond County (NC) vs. Marlboro County at 8 p.m. Friday, Southeast Raleigh (NC) vs. Socastee at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, and Wilmington New Hanover (NC) vs. South Florence in the Saturday nightcap. The college football season also opens Saturday so be sure to find a good sports bar to catch your favorite team in action.
* SummerFest: Barefoot Landing goes all out to cap its summer-long celebration. Sunday night begins with a sunset parade around the entertainment, shopping and dining complex, including stilt-walkers, unicyclists, jugglers, clowns, kids' karaoke and free carousel rides. The traveling dance party resumes Monday night before concluding with a fireworks show over Barefoot Lake at 10 p.m. Admission is free and the nightly parades begin at 7 p.m.
(photo courtesy: ColorfulPlaces.com)