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 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 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
This week, known as Holy Week, is spring break for many, as we gear up for Easter weekend and a huge choice in Easter services coming up on Sunday.
Before I get to those, there are also a couple fun egg hunts happening tomorrow (Saturday, April 20th), especially fun if you’re here with kids.
An Eggcellent Hunt on the IOP
First up, the Isle of Palms is having its annual Easter Egg Hunt at 10:00 a.m. sharp Saturday morning at the Rec Center.
In addition to filling their baskets with eggs, kids can visit with the Easter Bunny and pose for photos with the big guy. Egg hunts will be grouped by age. There will also be jump castles, photo booth, face painting, snow cones, cotton candy, and copious amounts of candy in general. This is Easter, after all. Here’s more from the IOP website.
The Rec Center is located at #24 18th Avenue on the Isle of Palms, more or less in the middle of the island.
Hunt Eggs or Attend Special Easter Services at Charleston Plantations
Area plantations are having special Easter events – both egg hunts and Easter services. Easter services are free, and the egg hunts are at no additional charge to regular admission.
Magnolia Plantation is having their 10th annual mambo Great Easter Egg Hunt, with a record 20,000 eggs stuffed with candy and neat prizes. Hunts are grouped based on children’s ages, and there are both morning and afternoon hunts for all. Here’s a breakdown:
3 years and under – 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (parents may accompany their child)
4 to 5 years – 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
6 to 8 years – 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
9 to 12 years – 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
This is a very popular event and space is limited, so you should plan to arrive an hour before your egg hunt. Eggbert Hopps, Magnolia’s mascot, will be on hand for pictures. Here’s the plantation website with more details.
Magnolia will also be having an Easter sunrise service Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m., sponsored by Old St. Andrews Parish Church, St. Andrews Mission Church, and Church of the Good Shepherd. Everyone’s welcome. Parking is free, and you’re welcome to stay and enjoy the grounds of the plantation at no charge. Just show the church bulletin for free admission.
Middleton Plantation is also having their Easter Eggstravaganza – an egg hunt (with genuine old fashioned dyed eggs) , visits with the Easter Bunny, egg decoration, Colonial games, egg games like egg toss and egg rolls, crafts, story time and live animals. It happens from 10:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. Saturday.
They’ll also have a special Easter weekend brunch available Saturday and Sunday. Read more about it all on their website and make a reservation, which is recommended.
Sunday Easter Services, including the Biggie at Boone Hall
There’s an abundance of great Easter services to choose from near the beach.
First, if you are an early riser, there will be an Ecumenical Easter Sunrise Service taking place on the beach itself, at Breach Inlet. It’s put on by the churches of Sullivan’s Island and the Isle of Palms. It starts at 6:30 a.m. You are encouraged to bring a flashlight to make your way safely before the sun rises, and a chair if you’d like. It’s always a very popular event so you are encouraged to get there early. This is on Sullivan’s Island, just over the Breach Inlet bridge from the Isle of Palms. For more information, contact Sunrise Presbyterian Church at 883-3888.
Then there’s the gigantic open air service on the lush grounds of Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. St. Andrews Church invites everyone to this, their annual Easter Service of Celebration. It takes place under the giant white tent behind the main house. In fact, the tent is the largest one in the state of South Carolina. The service itself starts at 9:00 a.m., but the music begins even earlier, at about 8:30.
This is also very popular. They expect about 5,000 people, so get there early if possible. The grounds are gorgeous, and you are free to tour them at no charge after the service is over.
Here’s a list of Island Easter services, as compiled by the Island Eye News:
Sunday Easter Services:
- 6:30 a.m. Sunrise Service at Breach Inlet
- 9 a.m. Celebration of the Resurrection Service
- 11 a.m. Celebration of the Resurrection Service
Sunrise Presbyterian Church is located at 3222 Middle Street, Sullivan’s Island. For more information, call 883-3888 or visit www.sunrisepcusa.org.
IOP Methodist Church
Sunday Easter Services:
- 8 a.m. & 11 a.m. Traditional Services
- 9:30 a.m. Praise/Communion Service in the Fellowship Hall
First United Methodist Church located at 21st Avenue at Palm Blvd, Isle of Palms. For additional information call the Church Office at 886-6610 or www.iopmethodist.com. *Nursery will be provided at all services.
Isle of Palms Baptist
Easter Sunday: 10:30 a.m. Worship service
Isle of Palms Baptist is located at 14th-24th Avenue, Isle of Palms. Evening services are held at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of the month, and a Men’s Breakfast is held at 9 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month. For additional information, call 886-6762.
St. Marks Lutheran
Sunday Easter Services:
- 6:30 a.m. ecumenical service at Breach Inlet in front of Sunrise Presbyterian, followed by a pot luck breakfast at the church at 9:30 a.m.
- 8:30 a.m. Easter Service*
- 11 a.m.: Easter Service*
*Flowering of the Cross between services
St. Marks Lutheran is located at 300 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms. For more information, call 886-8557.
Here are more Easter services on Sullivan’s Island:
Stella Maris Catholic
Sunday Easter Services:
- 8 a.m. Mass
- 9:30 a.m. Mass
- 11:15 a.m. Mass
- 5:30 p.m. Latin Mass
Stella Maris Catholic is located at 1204 Middle Street, Sullivan’s Island. For more information, call 883-3108.
Church of the Holy Cross Episcopal
Sunday Easter Services:
- 6:30 a.m. Sunrise Service at Breach Inlet with other island churches.
- 8 a.m. Rite I in the Historic Church building
- 9:00 a.m. Family Service in the Traditional Building
- 9:30 a.m. Family Service Easter Egg Hunt for all children
- 11 a.m. Rite I in the Traditional Church with a simultaneous Rite II Contemporary Service in the Great Hall.
Church of the Holy Cross Episcopal is located at 2520 Middle Street, Sullivan’s Island. Nursery is available during the Maundy Thursday and Easter Day services. For additional information, call 883-3586 or visit www.HolyCross.net.
Sullivan’s Island Baptist Church
Easter Sunday: 11 a.m. Easter Service
Sullivan’s Island Baptist Church is located at 1753 Central Avenue, Sullivan’s Island. For more information, call 883-3601. www.sibc.us.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
If you’re in the Lowcountry this weekend, you have plenty of seasonal AND fun ideas for lunch/dinner, not the least of which is enjoying Charleston food trucks.
Charleston Restaurant Week may be over, but there are three solid options over the next two days to both entertain and feed your friends and family. One happens Saturday, one Sunday, and one stretches over both days for your dining pleasure.
A Mega Festival all about Charleston Food Trucks
First up, it’s one of the best local incarnations of a very hot trend in the foodie world.
Food trucks are all the rage. In a city like Charleston with its rockin’ culinary scene, it’s no surprise that there’s a huge number of fantastic, fun food trucks near here.
You can sample some of the best this weekend at the eighth annual Charleston Food Trucks Festival.
This thing has experienced such massive growth in numbers and popularity that this year, they are stretching it over two days instead of just one. It’s going on this Saturday and Sunday, January 26th-27th, from 10:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. each day.
Organizers describe it as “Two glorious days of Epic Eats… Tipsy Treats… and Bangin’ Beats…”
In its first year, there were 5 food trucks and 500 hungry customers. Last year, there were 25 trucks and 8,000 people.
All the Deets on the Charleston Food Trucks Fest:
- Epic Eats: Three dozen (!) different popular local Charleston food trucks all gathered together in one convenient place;
- Admission is free, and it’s pay as you go (and eat), with cash payments encouraged and appreciated to help the lines move faster;
- Tipsy Treats: Handcrafted beer, wine & cocktails;
- Bangin’ Beats: Plenty of great live local music;
- Cool retail and craft vendors onsite for your shopping pleasure – a great place to pick up a local souvenir;
- Kids’ activities;
- Location: Park Circle in North Charleston, 4854 O’Hear Avenue;
- Dogs are welcome as long as they’re leashed;
- Website: http://charlestonfoodtruckfestival.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chsfoodtruckfest/
Oyster Options Abound
If you’re here on the Isle of Palms, you don’t even have to leave the island to experience the second option, happening this Saturday.
As I’ve mentioned countless times before, oyster roasts are a beloved tradition in the Lowcountry. They’ve been going on around these parts for more than two centuries. Delicious and historic!
Hop on the golf cart and check out the Bud and Cecily Stack Memorial Oyster Roast, happening this Saturday at the Exchange Club on the IOP. It’s at 201 Palm Boulevard.
They’ll have single select oysters, southern style chili, hot dogs, plenty of live music, silent auction items and a great raffle. There are a ton of terrific sponsors this year, so no doubt they’ll have wonderful items available.
The roast, which benefits local charities and scholarships, is limited to the first 425 participants and often sells out. Tickets are $35 advance and $40 at the door if any are left. It’ll be going on from 4:00 till 7:00 pm.
Read more about it and get tickets here, at their official website. At last check, they still did have some tickets left, but hurry to snag yours.
Did You Know – the World’s Largest Oyster Festival is Right Near the Isle of Palms?
Then, last but not least, this Sunday is the world’s largest oyster roast – the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, now in it’s 36th year. It’s happening at Boone Hall Plantation, just over the Connector from our Isle of Palms luxury rentals. The Southeastern Tourism Society named it one of the top 20 events in the Southeastern United States. It’s a fun must-do while in one of our SC vacation rentals at the end of January.
Here’s what you can expect:
- 80,000 pounds of oysters;
- Lots of live music, and tons of kids activities;
- Abundant food options, with a large food court;
- Plenty of beverages, including of the adult kind;
- The ever-popular oyster shucking and oyster eating contests;
- The festival will take place from 10:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m.
Proceeds go to several good causes – like Shriners Hospitals for Children, local schools, the Ronald McDonald House of Charleston and Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC.
Here’s a link to the festival webpage. Tickets are $17.50 advance, or $25 the day of; ages 10 and under are FREE. VIP tickets have already sold out.
So get your oyster on – both Saturday AND Sunday if you like, and check out some seriously good Charleston food trucks either day. And when you are in the market for a great place to stay, be sure to call EP. We’ll pair you with the perfect oceanfront luxury house on Isle of Palms.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
When you’re here in a Charleston, you might as well do the things we here consider to be classic South Carolina Lowcountry experiences.
One of the things that make travelling fun, is to sample the cuisine and culinary traditions that are unique to the area. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in the Lowcountry – get yourself to an oyster roast!
The oysters in the waters of the South Carolina Lowcountry grow in clusters. According to bivalve aficionados, they have a distinct and quite delicious flavor. It’s been likened to experiencing the sea with each bite.
As the saying goes, any month with an “r” in it is a good time to eat oysters. So although December and January might be considered offseason for certain things – say, our beach rentals – it’s actually a prime time to eat oysters.
If you’ve been here before, you may already know how much the Lowcountry loves its oysters. They are a huge part of our local culture and the centerpiece of the classic South Carolina coastal party, the oyster roast. You gather with friends and family around a steaming mound of mollusks, crack open a cold one, and start shucking at the communal table, tossing the shells into the hole in the middle of the plywood. It’s a terrific bonding experience.
The Post & Courier recently assembled a terrific list of places offering oyster roasts during the holiday season.
It’s actually a perfect activity to do around the holidays, when the weather is cooler and people like to gather. It is both a fun Lowcountry activity AND a meal at the same time. It’s also a great way to mingle with the locals.
Here’s the list, ably compiled by Stephanie Barna.
A bit of history behind those oysters growing in the South Carolina Lowcountry
The way oysters grow is an interesting tale that weaves both nature and history together.
South Carolina used to have a huge oyster industry. Back in the 1930’s, 16 different canneries lined the state’s coast. They harvested, shucked and shipped oysters to large cities like New York, Chicago and beyond.
Locals doing the harvesting understood the natural process beneath it all. They knew that oysters need a cultch, or base, on which to attach then regrow. It takes about three months for the baby oysters (“spats”) to attach. It then takes two to three years for an oyster to grow to three inches, which is when it’s considered ready for harvest.
The people working in and running the canneries understood the process. They knew they needed to return the shells back to the water, so everything came full circle.
Decades passed. Before long, Asian markets began flooding the market with cheaper, inferior canned oysters. The last South Carolina cannery closed in 1986.
Oysters go local
The South Carolina Lowcountry oyster market switched to a more local one. Whole cluster oysters basically stayed here and were consumed and appreciated, in individual back yards and at benefit parties.
People around here would wisely say this is progress. Local before local was cool. Why ship ‘em up north when we can keep there here for us?
The problem was, most of the shells just ended up in the landfill instead of back in the saltwater and tidal creeks where they belong. Soon it became apparent that oyster beds were disappearing.
So in the 1980’s, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources started an oyster bed seeding program, which has helped the situation. Also turning the tide, so to speak, is their oyster shell recycling program, which they began in 2000. Both have grown steadily ever since, just like the oyster beds they are meant to nurture.
There’s always Thursdays at the Dinghy on the Isle of Palms
If you’re staying on the Isle of Palms, you don’t even need to leave the Isle for an oyster fix.
The Dinghy has an oyster roast every Thursday at 6:30. There’s live music (usually by Donny Polk) and $7 buckets of fresh steamed LOCAL oysters.
They’re located just a walk, golf cart or quick ride away, at 8 JC Long Blvd. It’s just down the street from our office. Just give us a call us if you need directions.
The world’s largest oyster festival is coming up soon
It’s been going on for decades here in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
I’m talking about the annual Lowcountry Oyster Roast, and it’s happening Sunday, January 27th from 10:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m.
LOR has been ranked as one of the top 20 events in the southeast (Southeastern Tourism Society). The festival boasts massive amounts of the mollusks, oyster eating and oyster shucking contests, live music by the popular party band The Distinguished Gentlemen, beer, wine, food court and kids’ area.
It’ll take place on the grounds of historic and scenic Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. From the Isle of Palms, just cross over the IOP Connector, turn right onto Highway 17 North, and following the signs to Boone Hall.
Here’s the official website so you can start making plans and get tickets.
So enjoy some Lowcountry treasures – fresh cluster oysters, and luxury beach house rentals SC by Exclusive Properties.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
As I covered in that last blog, fall is finally falling near Charleston, which means it’s time to hit a pumpkin patch or two.
Obviously Charleston and its island beaches are a great place to kick back in the summer. You can lounge by the pool, whiling away the hours in the balmy sunshine.
But as we locals know, fall is one of the best times to be here. It’s a rather well-kept secret. The days tend to be sunny and warm and the nights are just cool enough to be blissfully refreshing.
There’s a nip in the air that reads: lack of humidity , that reads: more energy. It’s downright lovely.
Get Thee to a Pumpkin Patch, Charlie Brown
So now that fall is here, there are some rules. Rule #1 is, you gotta get search for an old fashioned pumpkin patch (or at least a farmers market or grocery store) and pick out a pumpkin …to carve, to put on your front stoop or dining room table. To cut up and cook into a delicious pie or a really good muffin.
One of the best local places is Hibben Methodist Church in Mount Pleasant, across from the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market on Coleman Boulevard.
They’ve been running a pumpkin patch for many years now. Best part is, it’s for a good cause. The pumpkins are grown on Navajo Indian land in New Mexico and harvested by Native Americans. 60% of profits go back to the growers, and 40% goes to charities like Epworth Children’s Home, Hibben Mission, United Methodist Relief Center, Hibben youth programs. It’s open 10:00 a.m. till dark Monday through Saturday, noon till dark Sundays through Halloween.
An Amazing Maize Maze & the Great Pumpkin Patch
Then of course there’s nearby Boone Hall Plantation, which has mega fall festivities going on right now. You can pick your own homegrown pumpkin and pay by the pound in their famous Pumpkin Patch.
Boone Hall also has a gigantic elaborate corn maze (a maize maze!) that’s fun for all ages. Actually, this year they have two. One is a shorter, fairly straight forward trek. The other is longer and more challenging, with lots of twists and turns for “adventurous explorers.” They offer a bunch of other fun activities, including:
- Jump Pillow;
- Giant Slide Tower;
- All-American Petting Zoo;
- Family-friendly Monster Hayride;
- Tire Climb and Sand Pit Play Area;
- King of the Mountain;
- Spider Web (fun to climb);
- Rock Climbing Wall;
- Corn Hole Toss;
- Goat Walk and Rabbit Enclosure;
- Playground Fun!
You can read all about it here, including admission and hours. Kids under two are admitted free. Boone Hall is an easy drive from all our rental homes South Carolina. From our Isle of Palms luxury rentals, just cross the IOP Connector, turn right onto Highway 17 North, then keep an eye peeled for the pumpkins on your left.
Fall Festival Fun West of the Ashley
Legare Farms over on Johns Island hosts its annual Fall Festival celebration weekends in October, complete with a major pumpkin patch. There are also hayrides to go feed the cows, a build-your-own scarecrow area, horse rides, a place where you can feed and pet sweet animals in the barnyard. They have duck races and a corn cannon. You can even mine for gems.
This time of year, lots of places have corn mazes. Not Legare. Here they have a Myrtle Maze, cleverly carved into 10 acres of wax myrtles. They also have plenty of concessions available for purchase. Admission is free, though some activities requite tickets. Read all about it on the website. Hours: 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. Friday, 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Saturday, 1:00-6:00 p.m. Sunday.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger