33rd Annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival (2016)

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I love oysters (and if you follow my Instagram or blog) then you know this is true. Several months ago I did a series that lasted 30 days, completely dedicated to: OYSTERS. It was amazing, I learned so much more than I ever realized existed about the bivalves. It was an amazing journey, I went out to the oyster beds (got my hands dirty and boots in the pluff mud-which was awesome)!!!!  I met and talked about oysters with 20+ chefs,  met with our local waterkeeper and learned about the importance of water quality and how it affects our local shellfish industry. I feel like somewhere along this process I became known as: “The Girl That Loves Oysters” or “The Oyster Expert.” I never anticipated that oysters would become such a huge part of my life…and yet they have, and I LOVE IT.

Being a food blogger I get invited to attend some really cool food related stuff, restaurant openings, parties, comped dinners (this sounds fun, right!?!!). Well it is fun. But I don’t go to it all. I don’t post about it all. If I go to something or post about it, I have to believe in it, be interested in it, support it.  It has to be important or special to me.  When I got invited to attend the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, I jumped for joy! I had always wanted to attend the event and had not yet gone.  It was a first for me.  I love the company of friends and neighbors standing around a shucking table outside in crisp winter weather, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, the scenery of oak trees draped with spanish moss blowing in the wind, slurping down some hot, freshly steamed oysters.  Its MAGICAL.  To me this is the heart of lowcountry living.  It’s special and it stole my heart the first time I found myself at an oyster roast (hard to believe it was 12 years ago, after relocating from Michigan).

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I attend several roasts a year, but have never braved the traffic, long lines or the bitter cold to attend the Lowcountry Oyster Festival at Boone Hall.  I’ve heard its intense…I’ve heard horror stories of hour long jammed up parking situations etc…(so why do the same people who complain about it every year, keep attending)?!?!?! After attending it myself now, I can tell you…BECAUSE IT’S A LOT OF FUN!!!! I had only the most amazing experience and didn’t fight long traffic lines or have cold weather…it was an awesome experience.  So awesome that I decided that I should enter the women’s oyster eating competition.  YES, you read that correctly…I entered a contest devoted to seeing how many oysters I could swallow in 3 minutes!  Of course I didn’t win, but I didn’t get sick either…I held my own through the competition and had fun.  It seems that this was my year dedicated to oysters and it only seemed fitting that I compete.  It was my duty, right?!?!?!

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Really great food!  The 80,000 lbs of oysters from Virgina were delicious and seemed endless…which was great because people were enjoying them until the party came to an end after 7 hours.  There was lots of other really great food vendors there as well and it seemed that lines moved quickly and everyone was having a blast!  There are several festivals in the area that market themselves as being ‘fun for all ages’ but in my opinion they really aren’t.  I was blown away by the LOF and the extent they went to, to truly make it a family friendly festival and did a remarkable job coordinating the activities and games for the kids all day.  SO FUN! I think this was one of the most fun events I have ever attended while residing in Charleston.  I can’t wait to come back next year.

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I was surprised to see I had made my way onto the 11 o’clock news that night, but like I said on camera for Live 5 News: “See y’all next year!”