January does indeed have an “r” in it, so get set for the largest oyster festival in the world.
It’s the 37th annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival, a beloved local event. It’s happening this Sunday – January 26th – in Mount Pleasant, just over the Connector from the Isle of Palms. The Oyster Festival is tapped as one of the top 20 events in the Southeastern United States, according to The Southeastern Tourism Society.
Oysters are a fundamental part of coastal Carolina culture and cuisine. Oyster roasts are a longstanding Lowcountry social tradition, not to mention a delicious way to spend an afternoon or evening with friends.
Basically, copious amounts of fresh oysters are steamed over hot coals or wood, often covered with wet burlap to generate and trap the steam. The bivalves are then shoveled onto communal tables. There you stand side by side with others as you pry them open with an oyster knife (a Lowcountry staple). Thick gloves also come in handy. You can savor them straight up, or with cocktail sauce or hot sauce and crackers. Then, of course, you wash them down with your favorite beverage; beer is often involved.
Well, this weekend is your chance to experience an oyster roast with about 10,000 of your favorite folks at the Lowcountry Oyster Festival. Red Clay Hot Sauce is a presenting sponsor, so expect to see a lot of that as well.
As an added bonus, it takes place on the scenic grounds of one of the top attractions in the area – Boone Hall Plantation.
What to expect at the Lowcountry Oyster Festival
- Oysters, and plenty of them – about 80,000 pounds or so;
- Danceable live music by The Bluestone Ramblers and The Ol’ 55s;
- Fun to join in or just watch – the men’s and women’s Oyster Shucking and Oyster Eating contests, which kick off at noon;
- Plenty of food options for the non-oyster lovers at the Food Court, with popular local eateries and food trucks;
- Adult libations like domestic and imported beer and wine selections;
- Loads of activities for the kids centered around the Pluff-a-Pallooza Kids’ Zone… arts and crafts with oysters, jump castles, juggling, stilt performers, a “marshmallow hurricane” (whatever that is) and a mascot limbo competition;
- Environmental and conservation groups on hand, including Water Keeper, Surfrider Foundation, Bee Cause and Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network;
- Performances by Salt Marsh Mystery Theatre and Break Circuit breakdancers;
- Axe throwing with Blade & Bull.
The festival will take place from 10:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. It’s also for a good cause, as proceeds go to worthwhile charities like the Ronald McDonald House of Charleston, MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Charleston County School District, Bread & Butter Charleston and the Coastal Conservation Association of South Carolina.
Here’s a link to the festival webpage, where you can buy tickets. Admission is $17.50 advance, or $25 the day of. Kids 10 and under get in FREE. FYI, VIP tickets have already sold out.
You can bring strollers, wagons, folding chairs, oyster knives and gloves into the festival. You are asked to leave the following at home: pets, coolers, folding tables, and outside food and beverages.
Boone Hall Plantation is located at 1235 Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant.
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