November 2007

Hilton Head Oyster Festival 2007

Author: Lindsey Hawkins

“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” —Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels

Imagine eating a slimy, mucous membrane shellfish that stinks of salt water and muck right out of the shell in the time of the Roman Empire. Imagine having the guts to do it first, only to hear that hundreds of years later oysters would be sold by the dozen at the nearest crab shack, pre-shucked and piled high with cocktail sauce, horseradish and Tabasco atop a saltine cracker.

Well, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would have been nice to know that you discovered one of the most celebrated foods of the world—not to mention one of the favorite erotic foods, thought to be a possible aphrodisiac because it is rich in zinc, one of the requirements of testosterone production.

Now imagine 10 of Hilton Head Island’s most eligible bachelors, 150 bushels of these enticing oysters, live music from our best local bands and a worthy, charitable cause to celebrate for two days. Well you don’t have to dream up the crowds or the event, because the annual Hilton Head Island Oyster Festival is taking place Saturday and Sunday, November 10-11, from 1-6 p.m. at Shelter Cove Community Park.

The Island Recreation Association and title sponsor, South Carolina Bank & Trust, will host the fifth annual festival to raise money for the recreation center’s child scholarship fund. Last year $7,000 was raised, and this year they hope to raise more, said the ever-exuberant special events director, Joe Cain.

Cain, who has worked for the Island Recreation Center for 16 years, said there are kids everywhere smiling every day, so there really couldn’t be a worthier cause.

The festival will feature cold beer from Budweiser and fine wines and liquor from Ben Arnold to be paired with more oysters than you can eat, with the help of Captain Woody’s Bar and Grill, in addition to shrimp, chowder, hamburgers, hot dogs and chili provided by local favorite, Street Meet.

After eating, drinking and going back for more, live music from our areas favorite musicians will play starting with Spare Parts and The Chilly Willy Band on Saturday, followed by Lost in the Media, Audio Tuxedo and The Gnomes on Sunday.

Adults will have plenty to do to relax and have fun while the kids run wild in the Kid Zone. There will be everything from a moon bounce and face-painting to laser tag for the older kids, all sponsored by Low Country Baby. In addition, you can check out the Holiday Craft Show and get your Christmas shopping done.

According to Cain, in the history of the Hilton Head Oyster Festival, all have been successful, including the first year when it rained. “It was a torrential downpour, and people would still run back to the tent, buy dozens and eat them in their car,” he said.

Cain, a former Celebrate Hilton Head magazine bachelor of the year nominee, also said he couldn’t imagine the ladies not showing up with friends to eat oysters and get a sneak peak at this year’s bachelors, rain or shine. Quite the modest ex-bachelor nominee, he said he preferred not being in the spotlight and, therefore, committed self-sabotage on last year’s questionnaire.

When asked to name his biggest pet peeve, Cain wrote, “Women who make me call them a cab in the morning,” knowing he would be eliminated and never come near the top ten.

Surprisingly, he wasn’t cast away from the island, hoping that those who knew him would also know he was joking.

Cain’s only advice is to be prepared to shuck your own and have a blast.

Keep an eye out for freebie tickets handed out around town and at other events such as the Celebrate Hilton Head Bachelor party at Rider’s Lounge on October 25. Otherwise, tickets will be $5 at the entrance, and all proceeds will go to the Island Recreation Association’s scholarship fund. For more information call 843-681-7273.

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