Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival

Cultural events like the Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival held at Huntington Beach State Park instill a sense of community on the Grand Strand. The annual juried art show celebrates artists from across the country who make their way to Murrells Inlet for this three-day event.

Visitors are also treated to live music from local musicians and an array of delicious offerings in the food court.

Atalaya Castle was the Ideal Artist’s Home and Studio

Held at the former home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, the artwork of over 100 artists from across the country is displayed among the Moorish-style architecture of Atalaya. Atalaya actually means ‘watchtower’ in Spanish and was aptly named by Archer himself.

The focal point of the home, the 40-foot tall watchtower commands attention at the center of the courtyard.

After Anna Hyatt Huntington came down with tuberculosis in 1933, the couple sought the temperate climate and warmer temperatures of South Carolina to lessen her symptoms in the winter months as compared to their home state of New York.

The 40,000-square foot masonry home was designed with 30 rooms and both an indoor and outdoor art studio. This allowed Anna Hyatt Huntington space to create life-size animal sculptures, many of which are now displayed in collections and museums throughout the country, including two sculptures of crouching jaguars at New York’s Bronx Zoo.

A collection of Huntington’s sculptures and studio equipment are on display at Brookgreen Gardens.

The Huntington’s summer home, which took two years to build, was an added boost to the local economy during the Great Depression. Archer Huntington ensured local workers had ample opportunity to assist in the project.

Finding Inspiration in Meeting and Talking with Artists

Each year, visitors flock to Atalaya Castle in hopes of discovering that perfect piece of artwork or handcrafted accessory.

Charlestonian Judy McSween’s abstract paintings emphasize color and texture. The rich purple and pink hues and struck me the most. My adult children,two of whom are artists themselves, spent a large amount of time perusing this booth in particular.

Contemporary artist Karen Lee Edgar’s stunning hand-rubbed charcoal works are so detailed they look like crisp photographs and her handcrafted, whimsical cigar box guitars can be played both acoustically and electrically.  

My seven-year-old was completely enthralled when Edgar played one of her guitars for us.  “Creating art allows me to express my love and passion for people, music, nature and life. The creation of each piece is an emotional and spiritual experience for me,” says Edgar on her website.

Gainesville, Florida artist Leslie Peebles makes relief prints from hand-drawn images carved out of wood or linoleum that are then inked and printed on a 100-year-old Charles brand press.. My family was inspired by Peebles and enjoyed learning about the tools she uses in her work.

Anna Hyatt Huntington’s love and appreciation of art,Archer Huntington’s philanthropic nature and the backdrop of 2,500-acre Huntington Beach State Park make for an  ideal location for the Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival, an event the Huntingtons surely would have approved of.

The annual festival is typically held in September. More information, including artist applications for the festival will be posted on

By Marie Elaine