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 in the beginning 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.
Euphoria, Greenville This three-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 late February to early March 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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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: