The Hilton Head Oyster Festival and Turkey Trot
Author: Craig Hysell | Photographer: courtesy of Joe Cain
In mid-November, as the rest of the world is prepping for what The Farmer’s Almanac says will be a colder than average winter, residents of Hilton Head Island are busy wondering if their cold-weather flip flops are still in the garage. Getting outside when the majority of the States are sitting by the fire is just another perk of living down south. And nothing beats a sunny fall day, football and a good oyster roast.
On Saturday and Sunday, November 15 &16, the Island Recreation Association and title sponsor, South Carolina Bank & Trust, will be hosting the Hilton Head Oyster Festival at Shelter Cove Community Park from 1-6 p.m. “Last year was the biggest one we’ve had so far,” said Joe Cain, special events director for the Island Rec Center and consummate exuberant enthusiast of Rec Center fundraisers. “But the big thing we’re doing differently this year is our silent auction; we’ve never done one at the Oyster Festival before.”
Thirty to forty donated items will be auctioned off each day, ranging from golf packages at Harbour Town Golf Links—where lucky winners can test their Verizon Heritage mettle—to restaurant gift certificates and framed artwork from the Linda Hartough Gallery. Highest bid at 5 p.m. wins. Losers go home content in the knowledge that they helped a cause. All proceeds go to the Island Rec Center’s scholarship fund.
“We don’t want any child to be denied a chance at recreation,” said Cain. “The money we raise at these events makes it possible for us to help these kids who can’t afford some of the fees it takes to play, say, soccer, basketball or go to summer camp. We couldn’t do that without these events or our donors.” Three to four thousand local kids have benefited so far from events like the oyster festival.
Speaking of events, didn’t you say something about football? “Yeah, we’re actually going to have a TV there. Hargray will be supplying the cable and the television; and although I can’t guarantee which game will be on, we will have college football on Saturday and some NFL games on Sunday for your viewing pleasure,” said Cain. For those who denounce the football gods altogether or are simply not such fundamentalist practitioners of the religion…er sport, there’s always live music to stimulate the auditory senses and perpetuate the need to groove.
The Weigh Station and Spare Parts will be playing on Saturday. Sunday will feature younger, teenage fare, including Sara Burns, Audio Tuxedo, The Stepping Stones and Lost In The Media. “Sunday has really taken off in the past few years,” said Cain. “We see a lot more high school kids coming over with their friends, and it brings a completely different element to [The Oyster Festival]. Not to mention, it gives these kids a chance to show their talent. So, it’s pretty cool.” Rockin’ out always is, no matter what your age.
Russell Anderson and “we couldn’t do this without them” Captain Woody’s Bar and Grill will be cooking up the oysters. Budweiser will be providing the beer; Rollers Total Beverage will contribute to the greater good with wine and liquor. Street Meet will be busy doling out shrimp, chili, chowder, hamburgers and hot dogs for those who have gorged on too many oysters or can’t understand how people eat those things in the first place.
To help you build up your appetite, there will be a holiday craft show. A children’s play area, featuring the standard Moon Bounce (because it’s just not a festival without a Moon Bounce, people) and a new obstacle course, will be supervised by volunteers so parents can take 20 minutes to walk around and remember the old days before the beauty and responsibility of their kids arrived. CH2 magazine will also be revealing their 10 Most Eligible Bachelors for 2009’s “Bachelor of the Year,” so prepare to get your meow on ladies. Tickets to the Oyster Festival are $5; smiles (and meows) are free.
For those who went too deep on oysters and Street Meet dogs, the 20th Annual Piggly Wiggly Turkey Trot will by held on November 27, 2008, to unload the unwanted calories. The 5k, 10k and Fun Walk will start at 8 a.m., beginning and ending (with an after-party, of course) at The Boathouse II parking lot, just outside the back gate of Hilton Head Plantation.
New age groups are being introduced this year, including a 70+ and added adolescent categories. Participants receive a commemorative long-sleeve shirt and the race will be chip-timed. Racers are encouraged to pre-register this year as the Turkey Trot will only be open to the first 1,300 enthusiasts. Pre-registration fee is $30 and $40 day of. All proceeds go to the aforementioned scholarship fund.
For more information on both the Oyster Festival and the Turkey Trot, please call the Island Rec Center at (843) 681-7273. The Farmer’s Almanac says it’s gonna be nice both weekends; but you already knew that, didn’t you? Isn’t it always nice on Hilton Head Island?