It’s a busy weekend indeed, featuring three ingredients of spring fun in the South – strawberries, shaggin’, and one of the world’s most delectable treasures from the sea, shrimp.
I’ll take them in chronological order as they happen.
Strawberry Festival in Charleston All Weekend Long
First up, it’s the spring celebration of all things strawberry, right here in Mount Pleasant. It features fresh-from-the-field deliciousness and family-friendly activities, happening now through Sunday evening.
This is the 22nd annual Strawberry Festival in Charleston put on by the good folks at Boone Hall Plantation, one of the Lowcountry’s preeminent locales.
From our Isle of Palms vacation rentals, just cross the IOP Connector into Mount Pleasant, then take 17 North. You can’t miss it, it’s up a short ways on your left on 17 (address: 2330 N. Hwy. 17, Mt. Pleasant). Please note: for the Strawberry Festival, enter from Highway 17, not the main entrance to Boone Hall Plantation, which is located on Long Point Road.
Boone Hall has planted 12 acres and 135,000 strawberry plants so you can pick your own to your heart’s content.
Here’s the official Festival page.
Get set for…
- Strawberry U-Pick Fields are open during event daytime hours
- New this year: Giant climbing wall
- Carnival thrill rides for all ages
- Acrobatic dogs of TV’s “K-9’s In Flight”
- All American Ranch Petting Zoo
- Pig races
- Live music
- Giant inflatables
- Largest Jump Pillows in the state of South Carolina
- A three-story slide tower
- Interactive games by SCDA, vendors too
- Playground fun, costumed characters
- Strawberry Recipe Contest
- Two Pie-eating Contests (Saturday at noon, Sunday at 1:00 p.m., limited to the first 25 people who sign up each day)
- The Miss Berry Princess Contest for ages 4-6
- John Deere contest for ages 4-6
Like I mentioned, you can pick your own berries and bring them back as a tasty souvenir of your festival experience.
Admission to the festival itself is $10 (ages 12 and up), $5 for ages 2-11. Kids under 2 admitted free with an accompanying adult. A wristband for all-you-can-ride thrill rides is $20 in advance ($25 at the gate), with part of the proceeds benefitting the Charleston SPCA. Individual ride tickets are $1.25 each, and individual rides take varying numbers of tickets.
Friday – 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday – 10:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday – noon – 7:00 p.m.
Shaggin’ on the Cooper
It’s the quintessential Carolina – and coastal – dance. The Shag became officially designated as STATE DANCE OF SOUTH CAROLINA in 1984.
And the season is kicking off once again, where you can shag with the locals at a supremely scenic spot.
The annual Shaggin’ on the Cooper dance series officially kicks off for the summer season this Saturday night, April 27th. It takes place at the pier at Waterfront Memorial Park, underneath the Ravenel Bridge on the Mount Pleasant side of the Cooper River.
Shaggin’ on the Cooper is sponsored by the awesome folks at Charleston County Parks and Rec, and it’s become wildly popular. The party takes place on certain Saturday evenings during the summer months, so you can shag as the sun sets over Charleston. Gates open at 7:00 p.m. while the music and dancing begin at 8:00 p.m.
Here are the dates and musical lineup for summer 2019:
- April 27th, The Hot Pepper Band
- May 18, Shem Creek Boogie Band
- June 15, The Coppertones
- July 13, The Sneakers
- August 10, Vinyl Daze
- September 7, Recollections
Tickets are just $10 at the gate ($8 in advance online) and often sell out fast. Here’s a link to the site with more info and where you can buy advance tickets and get the discount.
Food and beverages will also be available for purchase. This is a wholesome event perfect for all ages, and you don’t HAVE to shag if you don’t want to. But since you’re in South Carolina, why not?
Blessing of the Fleet
The local shrimp season officially kicked off this week. This comes after a rather rough season last year, when the January cold snap threw off shrimping. In fact, this year shrimping starts a full two months ahead of last year – late April as opposed to late June. Here’s more about this year’s shrimp season.
There really is nothing quite like the taste of fresh Lowcountry shrimp from local waters. It’s definitely worth celebrating with a festival!
This Sunday is a beloved local event that’s been taking place each spring for 32 years. It’s the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival, an age-old tradition when we bless our local ships (many of them decorated), our shrimpers and fisherman who are heading out to sea, praying for their safety and for a bountiful harvest of shrimp and more to come.
This blessing of the fishermen and of their fair catch of shrimp is a real taste of the Lowcountry. It’s been ranked one of the top 20 events by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Our local shrimpers are a hardy lot, but they’ve faced tough times, what with foreign shrimp competition, rising fuel and maintenance costs and other challenges. This is a chance for us in the community to express our appreciation and encourage them to keep on fishin.’
That’s the core of the festival, but it’s grown into a full-fledged celebration of all things shrimp and beyond. Admission is free. There will be tons of tents with vendors, shrimp but also seafood of all sorts, beverages for all ages, a huge arts and crafts area, kids’ activities and lots of live music. There will also be the ever-popular shrimp eating contest (3:30 p.m.) as well as a Shag contest (4:00 p.m.). As I mentioned above, the Shag is, after all, the state dance of South Carolina.
It all takes place this Sunday from 11:00 a.m. till 5:00, at Mount Pleasant Waterfront Memorial Park at 99 Harry M. Hallman Jr. Boulevard. Note that this is the same awesome venue as the Shaggin’ on The Cooper, happening there the night before (Saturday).
A Long Tradition Celebrating Lowcountry Shrimp and Shrimpers
For years the event was held at Alhambra Hall in the Old Village in Mount Pleasant. But the festival grew to be too large – parking was a nightmare, and tents (and people) were squeezed in cheek-to-jowl. So when the new Waterfront Park and pier were completed near the Ravenel Bridge, it proved to be the ideal location for the event. Here you have ample room to watch the boats as they parade by the end of the pier, plenty of parking and green space for all the tents and booths.
Several parking areas will be available around the event, and it’s generally well-marked. There will be free golf cart shuttle service from area lots in case anyone could use an extra lift.
This event is very popular with locals, so you might want to get there early. Folks bring coolers, beach chairs and blankets and make a real party out of it.
As an extra bonus, the event raises funds for local charities.
Here’s the website with more info.
So enjoy some of the bountiful pleasures of the Lowcountry – shrimp, strawberries, and shagging to beach music. And remember to call EP when you’d like a great family home away from home at the beach near Charleston.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger