Can-Am Days is the abbreviated name for the annual Canadian-American Days Festival in the Myrtle Beach area. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce began the festival in 1961 as a means of attracting vacationing Canadian families during their annual winter school break. It started with a simple observation: local businesspeople noticed a large number of automobiles with Ontario license plates during mid-March. They learned that these Canadians were stopping in the Myrtle Beach area on their way to Florida. After making this discovery, business leaders cast about for ways to turn these overnight stops into longer visits.
Each year Can-Am Days features more than sixty events and activities during a nine-day period, including tours, concerts, tournaments, and unique events such as the International Kitefest and the Little Olympics. The events and activities are held to coincide with Ontario’s school holiday. Entertainment is the immediate thrust of the festival, but the main effort is to enhance awareness of the Myrtle Beach/Grand Strand name in the minds of potential vacationers. The chamber and its affiliated businesses conduct extensive advertising and promotional campaigns each year, and the success of Can-Am Days has increased Canadian visitation to the Grand Strand throughout the year.
The festival has received scores of awards, ranging from a commendation by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1971 to being named as South Carolina’s Top Tourist Attraction in 1972. In 1994 and again in 1997 the festival received the Shining Example Award as the most outstanding festival of the year by the Southeast Tourism Society.