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South Carolina Lifestyles Expo, Myrtle Beach, SC

People crowd into the annual Lifestyles Expo at Myrtle Beach, SC.The stigma attached to turning 50 is long gone, a relic of a time when reaching the half-century mark was a milestone that meant slowing down the pace of your life and spending more time on the porch, on the couch or soaking up other sedentary activities. Today, life no longer begins at 40, as the old song goes, but 50 or even 60. Those who want to find out what awaits them in their not-so-waning years should consider attending the South Carolina Lifestyles Expo, an event that draws thousands of participants each year to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

The Expo, for more than a quarter of a century one of the largest shows of its kind along the Carolina coast, gives attendees a taste of a wide array of products and services in areas ranging from health to finances to real estate to travel. The 2011 show even provided the opportunity to win a pair of tickets to the 2012 PGA Championship.

There is no admission charge to the Expo, which is sponsored by Media Services, publisher of Carolina Homes & Interiors, Hot Retirement Towns and many other hard-copy and online publications.

"The show offers a broad spectrum of all types of things that interest folks 50 and older," said South Carolina Lifestyles Expo Director Bill Cool. "It's a potpourri of products and services for people of that age."

"It's a good opportunity for people get an idea of what's available in the Myrtle Beach area in terms of products and services," added Tom Hamilton, who is with Eggland's Best, one of the show's longtime sponsors. "There's a pretty broad spectrum of vendors, from retirement to chiropractors to resorts to golf to home remodeling. It's a pretty good cross section. And generally the entertainment is pretty good, too."

In the health area, participants have access to free screenings provided by medical professionals. They can have their hearing and eyes checked, take advantage of chiropractic massages and consultations and learn about various surgical procedures. Exhibitors also are available to provide health tips and advice and information on fitness techniques and the ins and outs of the Medicare program. In some years, they can even get a flu shot.

Financial health is another key aspect of the Expo. Free advice is offered in general areas including maximizing your retirement income and prudent investing and on specific subjects such as reverse mortgages.

And, if you are healthy physically and financially, you might want to look into travel opportunities. You'll certainly have the opportunity to do so at the South Carolina Lifestyles Expo, which also features information on real estate in the Carolinas, from homes and condos to retirement communities and assisted living facilities.

And then there's the free stuff and the fun stuff. Each year, vendors at 90 booths lure people to the Expo by giving away their products as well as cash, cruise packages, vacations, meals and other great prizes. Cooking demonstrations and help with your golf game are other popular pastimes, and live entertainment is always on tap throughout the two-day event. The Expo draws visitors from the Carolina coast and beyond, according to Hamilton, whose company serves free cheese omelets throughout the two-day event.

"We register people as they come by and send them a thank you note and another coupon for free eggs, so we know there are people from Canada, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and other places," Hamilton said. "We feel the Expo has been a very successful marketing tool."

Matt Sedota, general manager of WEZV Radio in Myrtle Beach, another longtime Expo sponsor, also sees the value of the opportunity to market to the 50-plus audience.

"There's lots of informative seminars and presentations and great merchants," he commented. "It's a nice way to spend the day. It's a perfect match for us because the people who come to the show are the people who listen to our station."

"It's a very fun way to spend the day," Cool concluded. "It would be difficult to find so much information and so much to do under one roof."

By Brian Sherman

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