The 36th Annual Bluffton Village Festival
Author: Laura Jacobi | Photographer: Regine Johnson
Bluffton definitely knows how to throw a party. And the 36th annual Bluffton Village Festival won’t disappoint. The festival, coordinated by The Rotary Club of Bluffton, will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mother’s Day weekend on Saturday, May 10, in Old Town Bluffton. The street fair is truly “a celebration of Bluffton life,” filled with all things Lowcountry, eccentric and family-friendly.
Residents and visitors, young and old, enjoy this eclectic and homespun Southern festival, famous for its unique arts and crafts, music and delicious food. This event is the perfect opportunity to find unique gifts and goodies, gather with old friends and meet new ones. Admission is free! And this year, attendees have an extra hour to enjoy all the food and craft vendors, music and fun.
The Bluffton Village Festival, commonly known as Mayfest, was created to give Bluffton residents and visitors a chance to have some hometown fun and be exposed to the amazing craftsmen, artists and musicians in our region. Organizers agree the street fair is filled with all the charm, beauty and hospitality Bluffton is known for.
“The Bluffton Village Festival is quintessential Bluffton with its good food, beautiful arts and crafts and plenty of smiling faces,” said Mike Covert, Rotary Club of Bluffton member and this year’s BVF chairman. “The Bluffton Village Festival is special and unique to this quaint little piece of heaven on earth we call home.”
The Rotary Club of Bluffton assumed responsibility of this hometown favorite six years ago. The club’s goal is to maintain the unique spirit of the festival, while continuing to offer more ways for locals and visitors to get involved, according to Covert. The club provides the necessary manpower to run and manage the Old Town Bluffton street party.
The Rotary’s motto is “Service above self.” Covert said, “The Bluffton Village Festival gives the Rotary Club of Bluffton the opportunity to give back to the residents, guests and business community of the town they serve and hold so dear.”
Gifts and goodies galore
On the big day, Calhoun Street is full of electric energy and Southern hospitality. According to Dot Jeger, Vendor Coordinator for the BVF, close to 200 vendors from across the South will be selling jewelry, flowers, antiques, print and original artwork, pottery and more. Close to 40 new vendors are registered for this year’s event, selling unique items such as wooden wall art, American Girl doll clothes, Gullah dolls, local shell art, handmade soaps, hand-painted driftwood and recycled jeans and jackets.
The 10,000 or more guests in attendance will also have their choice of savory Lowcountry favorites such as the festival’s famous shrimp salad sandwiches from The Church of the Cross along with kettle corn, fudge, local seafood, snow cones and lemonade.
As Covert describes it, the Village Festival offers the best of what the Lowcountry has to offer. “You’ll see it … hear it … taste it … and feel it.”
The young and young-at-heart look forward to this annual street party because of its family-friendly atmosphere, quirky entertainment and yummy treats. This year’s festival also includes several vendors selling goods with children in mind such as dolls and doll clothes, toys including a giant wooden puzzle game, like Jenga, and the always-popular marshmallow shooters.
Two crowd favorites at the BVF are the Ugly Dog contest, celebrating its 26th year, and the second annual Pie Eating Contest. The quirky and unpredictable contest featuring man’s best friends is once again sponsored by Richard Coffield of May River Realty. If a dog has a face only his master could love, then that canine is the perfect contestant for the Ugly Dog Contest. All ugly dogs are welcome to enter! And the “top” three dogs receive a coveted trophy by local potter Jacob Preston.
Contestants of all ages are encouraged to participate in the “all-American” pie eating contest where they will race to see who can devour a tasty pie the fastest. The mouth-watering pies will be prepared by local Bluffton bakery, The Sugaree. Come see your friends, neighbors and total strangers stuff their faces for the chance to call themselves, “Champ.” Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place.
Entertainment line-up for the Main Stage
10 a.m. Sun City Cloggers and Bluffton School of Dance
11:30 a.m. Pie Eating Contest
Noon-2:45 p.m. (will break during Ugly Dog Contest) Bill Dupont
1 p.m. Ugly Dog Contest
2:45-5 p.m. Willie Cohen, Jr.
General notes for festival-goers:
-Wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes and bring bug spray, sunglasses and sunscreen.
-Friendly dogs are welcome at the festival on a leash.
-Rotary volunteers will be working two beverage stations this year. One in the traditional spot in front of main stage area and one near the beginning of Calhoun Street so guests can grab a drink as soon as they step off the bus.
-Free parking will be available at Red Cedar Elementary School with free shuttle services to Calhoun Street running continuously from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The buses are air conditioned, and there will be one bus designed for guests with disabilities. Transportation provided by Durham.
Directions to Red Cedar Elementary:
-From S.C. Highway 278: take S.C. Highway 46 toward Bluffton. Take the first right off the traffic circle onto -Bluffton Parkway. At the first light take a left onto Red Cedar Street. Follow parking signs to the school.
-From May River Road: turn onto Pin Oak Street and go all the way to end. Take a left at the three-way stop. Then, take a right onto Red Cedar and follow parking signs to the school.
Hilton Head Honda and Modern Classic Motors are this year’s Bluffton Village Festival corporate sponsors. Their sponsorship level helps provide the central stage used for entertainment. Media sponsors include Accurate Lithograph Printing Co., Apex Broadcasting with radio stations SC103.1 and THE SURF 104.9, Bluffton Today, Bluffton Breeze magazine, The Bluffton Sun, CB2 magazine, Hilton Head Monthly magazine, L and L Broadcasting with stations BOB 106.9, HANK 98.3, ISLAND 93.5, REWIND 107.9, ROCK 106.1 and Y100.1, Lowcountry Weekly, and WHHI TV.
For more information, call (843) 815-2277, visit blufftonvillagefestival.com or like us on Facebook.