I headed out to Boone Hall Plantation last Sunday afternoon with a group of friends for a day of music, fun, and most importantly, oysters.
I'll admit, most of what I'd heard about the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, the GCRA's yearly food celebration at Boone Hall Plantation, has been about the crowds and the parking—and it hadn't been good.
The legendary "parking lot" of the road leading to the festival entrance, however, proved to be mythical. Instead, I found a quickly moving line.
We arrived at the party at about 1 pm, and I strolled right up to the Will Call line to pick up my VIP badge, no line whatsoever. My friends, who were buying regular passes, waited less than five minutes. So far, the oyster fest was pleasantly surprising me.
This was no small feat of organization, and what I'm sure amounted to months of preparation—an estimated 8,715 people attended the Lowcountry Oyster Festival on January 29.
It was perfect weather for an oyster roast, a clear, crisp day without too much wind. I would guess the temperature was about 60 degrees until the sun started to go down. I spent most of my time eating oysters—figures, right?—and hanging out with other friends in the VIP tent.
Oysters were $12 for three dozen. A deal.
I have to say, I think the VIP tent is definitely the way to go for this event. A private space directly next to the stage, where live musical acts played from 10 am to 5 pm, the VIP area had it's own all-you-can-eat oyster shucking tables, a private open bar, and a plethora of other food provided by Charleston Hospitality Group, including food from Eli’s Table, Tabbuli and Cove Oyster Bar & Grille. For only $100, it's a great deal for an all-day event.
My friend Nelson amazed by how great the VIP section was.
Another great part of the entertainment and oyster-centric fun were the oyster eating and shucking competitions. There is something deeply satisfying about watching competitors chug down slick shucked oysters. It's like watching someone commit to a dare you'd never do.
Winners of the Oyster Eating and Oyster Shucking contests:
Oyster Shucking female winner: Isabella "Gator" Macbeth
Oyster Shucking male winner: Marco Gaspar
Oyster Eating female winner: Dabny Lynn
Oyster Eating male winner: Bruce Elder
Over 80,000 pounds of oysters were eaten at this year's extravaganza!
This was a great winter event in the Lowcountry, and in the future I won't be scared of the crowds. These folks know how to handle em' and it was fun to be with such a large group of like-minded oyster enthusiasts, who helped the GCRA donate over 50,000 dollars to local charities this year. Way to go, Charleston!