For many first-time visitors and newcomers to the Grand Strand, North Myrtle Beach is just an extension of Myrtle Beach that offers the same attractions, restaurants and shops. But for those who have been to both coastal communities, you know they have their own distinct identities.
For North Myrtle Beach, which is actually made up of four small beach villages (Cherry Grove, Crescent Beach, Ocean Drive and Windy Hill), that means beach music, shag dancing and summertime fun wrapped small-town charm and Southern hospitality. All the things North Myrtle Beach is famous for is on full display at the 10th Annual Mayfest on Main celebration.
Featuring a family-friendly environment for all ages, this May 9 festival signals the approach of the summer-tourism season, even though the calendar says the official start of summer is more than a month away. Mayfest on Main is held in the historic Horseshoe section of downtown Ocean Drive, where Main Street dead ends at the beach.
Held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Mayfest on Main puts everyone in a summer mindset with live music and entertainment on the stage and dancing in the streets. Food and beverage booths, arts and crafts vendors and a special Kids Zone section for the little ones are among the many activities on tap. The event is free and open to the public and attracts as many as 15,000 to the social event of the year for North Myrtle Beach.
This year’s musical lineup is one of the best in the festival’s history. For folks who fondly remember the 1960s and ‘70s classic-rock era, the popular Canadian band The Guess Who was part of the sound track that still lives on decades later. The Guess Who, which famously played its anthem “American Woman” outside The White House gates during the Nixon administration, will rock the crowd as the headline act with other hits, like “These Eyes” and “No Sugar Tonight.”
Opening acts appearing on the main stage include Charlotte, NC-based band Blue Monday, which plays popular covers from the 1980s; Barbara Lewis, who had hits with “Hello Stranger,” and “Baby I'm Yours”; and the laid-back beach music of the Carolina Soul Band, a regional favorite of shag dancers, will have visitors dancing in the streets or jamming in their seats.
Guests are asked to bring a beach blanket or chair for more comfortable seating options near the main stage. Meanwhile, on the community stage in nearby McLean Park, a series of youth concerts and arts performances will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are a limited number of picnic tables and playground equipment for taking a break from the bigger crowds, and the Kids Zone offers amusement park rides, inflatable play areas, pony rides and games.
Mayfest on Main also offers lots of opportunities for bargain shoppers and treasure hunters. More than 200 vendor tents are set up to display the works and wares of artists and craftsmen from all over the East Coast. From jewelry and apparel to paintings and glasswork, Mayfest on Main is a great place to pick up some one-of-a-kind items, and even talk to the artists’ about their inspirations.
In addition to the other restaurants and shops on Main Street, visitors can choose from a wide selection of food and drink vendors. Serving beach favorites, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and soft drinks, and selling a nice variety of souvenirs, Mayfest on Main makes sure you won’t go home hungry or empty-handed. Parking is available at makeshift lots around Main Street.