Hundreds enjoy 2017 Duckfest

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SUMMERTON - The 2017 Duckfest committee couldn't have asked for a better day to hold a festival. Temperatures were in the upper 70s with only a few clouds floating around to mar the blue skies.

Children were running around enjoying the bouncy house, pushing their newly purchased ducks around and playing with a litter of black Labrador puppies that were resting underneath a shade tree. Moms and dads were visiting the dozen-plus vendors who were selling their wares along Main Street and Railroad Avenue.

"It's great to see families getting out and enjoying themselves," said Duckfest committee member Tony Junious. "The turnout is great. We have vendors from all across the state here selling everything from duck calls to decoys and other items."

Junious said this year's Duckfest had a parade.

"We had golf carts, the Scott's Branch JROTC color guard and children on golf carts," he added. "It wasn't very long, but it will grow."

Duckfest committee member Ed Paul kept the action moving on the event's center stage. He also handed out words of encouragement to a few of the younger competitors. Paul told Keegan Towne, who was competing at the age of 7, to keep at it. "You will be a force to be reckoned with," Paul told the youngster. "You're consistent. You're impressive. You did a good job."

During the duck-calling competition, Paul told those in attendance that "it's not easy to get up on a stage and quack like a duck."

"You just have to do it," he said with a smile. "You never know where it might take you."

In the Kayak Bass Fishing Tour tournament, 72 anglers paddled the waters of the Santee Cooper lakes in search of bass. The KBF Tour does not use weights to determine its winner. The KBF Tour judges its winners by total length in the catch, measure and release competition.

According to the KBF Tour coordinator Chad Hoover, 20 inches of fish would equate to "probably four five-pounders."

More than 70 boats blasted out of John C. Land III Sport Fishing Facility at daylight to take part in the Berkeley Outdoors Fall Open Bass Tournament. The boating team of Bunn Tyson and Keith Shelton won first place with a five-fish catch weighing in at 31.17 pounds. They also scored on the second Big Fish award with a bass weighing 7.54 pounds. Brad Schwartz won the Big Bass Award with a bass topping out at 8.03 pounds.

The team of Tyson and Shelton said they fished slowly and "tried to stay out of the wind."

"We fished deep and shallow," Tyson said. "We stumbled across two or three in one spot."

The 2017 Duckfest Duck Cup Clay Shooting Tournament was held at Featherhorn Farms near Summerton. More than 120 people were on hand to watch 17 youth and 22 adult competitors vie for the top spots. According to Paul, the competition featured three-person teams who shot at 12 different stations.

"These shooting events are something the whole family can enjoy," Paul said. "It's a great family sport."

The winners in the youth division were Evan Ardis, Justin Lowder and Hunter Thompson. Second place went to Andi Grae Wingate, Mary Claire Lee and Bailey Moore, while third place went to Lizzie Ardis, Callie Thompson and Sara Knight Nalley.

The winners in the adult division were Richmond Wilhoit, Gage Langston and Bill Wingate. Coming in second place were Matthew Blankenship, Jay Lowder and Frankie Ardis. Finishing in third place were Bill Smith, Robbie Nalley and Jeffrey Shuping.

The festival ended with the Duckfest Cook-Off where the team of Lisa Bagnal and Marlee Wells took home the win with their award-winning desserts. Teams cooked up a delicious menu that included duck, pork, shrimp and grits, ribs in various ways, venison, chicken bog, Lowcountry boil, red chicken stew, ham perlow, potluck and alligator.

"Overall, we're very pleased with the number of contestants, vendors and the number of people from Summerton, Clarendon County and across the state who came out today for Duckfest," Junious said. "We're only going to get bigger and better."