Celebrate South Carolina’s Culinary Best at Food Festivals

By:Libby Wiersema

Date:8/2/2018

The smells, the sights, the flavors – food festivals are a multisensory experience and South Carolinians can’t seem to get enough of them. Not only do they showcase the best of local bounty, but they provide a stage for dedicated farmers who harvest from both land and sea, and chefs whose inspired treatment of food products create sensational dishes that thrill and wow.

From the humble roots of harvest celebrations, county fairs and farmers markets, food festivals evolved into events designed to educate, entertain and even raise funds for local causes. These days, you can take your pick from small-town gatherings to multiday, ticketed extravaganzas. If you’ve got an appetite for food festivals, every season is a time to celebrate the bounty of South Carolina. Here’s a roundup of some of our most popular foodie gatherings:


Major Food Festivals

These fests go for days and draw crowds from across the globe:

Charleston Wine + Food Festival

Five days of pure gastronomic pleasure at the epicenter of South Carolina’s robust food scene happens at the end of February into March. Celebrity chefs, tons of tastings, a culinary village filled with food, drinks, and gadgets, educational seminars, and sumptuous dine-arounds with lauded guest chefs across the nation make this a must for culinarians.


Coastal Uncorked, Myrtle Beach

The Grand Strand struts its stuff at the three-day fest in September. Myrtle Beach is home to more restaurants per capita than any other city in the state, so it stands to reason they want to show off some of their finest food offerings. Cooking competitions, celebrity chefs, casual noshing and elegant dinners are some of the highlights of this food festival.


Euphoria, Greenville

This four-day festival in September, co-founded by South Carolina-born singer-songwriter, Edwin McCain, is chock-full of tastings, cooking demos, live music, renowned chefs, sommeliers and fabulous dinners.


Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival

A full week of savoring local seafood is on the menu during this February festival. Take a master culinary class, enjoy live entertainment, see celebrity chefs in action and, best of all, eat your fill of fresh South Carolina seafood.


Celebrate the Harvest

April and May mark strawberry season in South Carolina and it’s a time of excitement, as evidenced by the many festivals centered around the luscious berry. Sample strawberry goods of all kinds, purchase berries or perhaps pick your own at these and other events across the state:

South Carolina Strawberry Festival, Fort Mill

Lowcountry Strawberry Festival, Mt. Pleasant

Upstate Strawberry Festival, Travelers Rest

McLeod Farms Strawberry Festival, McBee

Peaches

South Carolina is the No. 2 producer of peaches in the US, so observances during the harvest season are in full swing during June and July. Here are a few where you can delight in some of the sweetest, juiciest peaches you’ll ever savor:

South Carolina Peach Festival, Gaffney

McLeod Farms Peach Festival, McBee

Ridge Peach Festival, Trenton

Lexington County Peach Festival, Gilbert

Peach Blossom Festival, Johnston

Sweet Potatoes

Any time of year, you’ll spot roadside markets offering bushels of sweet potatoes – a favorite in these parts for making pies, fries or just enjoying on their own. Sample and celebrate this earthy, orangey tater in all its glory at these fests:

Sweet Potato Festival, Darlington (October)

Lower Richland Sweet Potato Festival (April)

Watermelons

South Carolinians call this the “smile fruit” for good reason: It’s hard not to be happy when you’re eating a cold, sweet wedge on a hot Southern day. Get your smile on at these two festivals:

Watermelon Festival, Pageland (July)

Hampton County Watermelon Festival (June)


Meat and Seafood

Revel in South Carolina's bounty, from land and sea:


Barbecue

In South Carolina, barbecue is a noun that refers to tender, tantalizing pork slow-cooked in huge smokers, then typically slathered in one of four sauces: Vinegar-based, light tomato-based, heavy tomato-based and mustard-based. Celebrate a time-honored tradition at these barbecue-centric festivals:

Pig on the Ridge, Ridgeway (November)

Smoke on the Harbor, Mt. Pleasant (November)

Pork in the Park, Newberry (April)

BBQ Cook-Off and Festival, Greenville (April)

Beach-Boogie and BBQ, Myrtle Beach (September)

Hub City Hog Fest, Spartanburg (April)


Seafood and Fish

South Carolina waters are brimming with delicious treasures. From freshwater catches to briny oysters, succulent shrimp and other gifts from the sea, you’ll be hooked at first bite when you indulge at one of these festivals:


Catfish:

Society Hill Catfish Festival (November)

Hardeeville Catfish Festival (September)

Catfish Feastival, Ware Shoals (May)

St. Stephen Catfish Festival, Society Hill (April)

Crab:

World Famous Blue Crab Festival, Little River (May)

Awendaw Blue Crab Festival (August)

Port Royal Soft Shell Crab Festival (April)

Oysters:

Lowcountry Oyster Festival, Mt. Pleasant (January)

South Carolina Oyster Festival, Columbia (November)

Hilton Head Oyster Festival (November)

Shrimp and Crawfish:

Beaufort Shrimp Festival (October)

Little River ShrimpFest (October)

Lowcountry Shrimp Festival and Blessing of the Fleet, McClellanville (May)

Shrimp Festival of Yemassee (September)

May River Shrimp Festival, Beaufort (July)

Bluffton Art and Seafood Festival (October)

Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival, Mt. Pleasant (April)

Rosewood Crawfish Festival, Columbia (May)


Odds and Ends

Savor some of South Carolina's most beloved flavors at these festivals:

Bluffton Boiled Peanut Festival – Taste South Carolina’s favorite snack. (September)

South Carolina Cornbread Festival, North Columbia – Celebrate the South’s hallmark bread. (April or May)

Irmo Okra Strut – Boiled, fried, pickled, baked, dried – experience the many ways we eat okra. (September)

Chitlin Strut, Salley – No soul food experience is complete without a sampling. (November)

Loris Bog-Off – A perfect opportunity for the chicken-bog-curious to find out what all the fuss is about. (October)

Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival, Columbia – Everybody’s favorite summertime fruit gets star treatment. (August)

South Carolina Pecan Festival, Florence – Witness just how nuts we are for pecans at this lively fest. (November)

Sweet Tea Festival, Summerville – Be awed by the world’s biggest glass of tea and learn why this town is the birthplace of South Carolina’s favorite elixir. (September)

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