Cooling temperatures may have you craving all things pumpkin, but there’s much more to enjoy this time of year than pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin muffins. Fall is food festival time in South Carolina, with events showcasing local seafood and produce, from shrimp and oysters to okra and collards.
Here’s a schedule of some of the food festivals South Carolinians look forward to each fall:
Hilton Head Shrimp Festival, Hilton Head Island The fun kicks off with a Craft Brew Fest, featuring beer tastings from more than a dozen local and regional breweries, a Lowcountry Boil and barbecue. On Saturday, more than a host of restaurants compete for bragging rights and the title of best shrimp dish. While you eat and drink, enjoy live music and let your kids play in the children’s zone.
Hilton Head Oyster Festival, Hilton Head Island Get your fill of steamed, fried and stewed oysters from South Carolina’s own local waters when you attend this Hilton Head fest. If mollusks aren’t your thing, try the Lowcountry Boil, pulled pork, seafood chowder or chili. The weekend event also features live entertainment, marshmallow roasting and a sports lounge for football viewing.
Beaufort Shrimp Festival, Beaufort At this Lowcountry heritage event, held in the beautiful Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort, local restaurants will be dishing up their shrimp specialties in a competition for the “best recipe” and “most creative recipe.” Other highlights include a Friday evening concert in the park, an arts and crafts market and a “Popcorn Shrimp Race” for kids.
Little River ShrimpFest, Little River Local waterfront restaurants serve fresh local seafood with, you guessed it, shrimp as the headliner. The festival also includes more than 150 food, art and craft vendors, live music and a children’s area with face painting and balloon artists.
Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival, Bluffton An homage to the bounty of the sea—and the well-known local art scene—this multi-day festival in Bluffton includes a wide range of events, from a four-course dinner and seafood street fest to May River boat tours, a boat parade and blessing of the fleet.
Irish Italian International Festival, North Myrtle Beach This dynamic duo of culinary pleasures comes together for a cultural experience not to be missed. Area restaurants will compete for the Best Entree, Best Decorated and Best Dessert. This North Myrtle Beach festivities also include a spaghetti-eating competition, dozens of food vendors and Flynn’s Paddy Wagon for a cold pint of brew.
Loris Bog-Off Festival, Loris Try every variation of the classic Southern chicken bog—a concoction of chicken, rice, sausage and spices—as cooks compete at this belly-filling event. The festivities also include two stages of entertainment, a large children’s play area, more than 200 vendors and fireworks.
Taste of the Town, Myrtle Beach Enjoy the best dishes from the finest restaurants in Myrtle Beach—all under one roof—at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. This Grand Strand culinary event features tapas-style tastings in a competition for the title of “Best Entree,” “Best Dessert” and “People’s Choice.”
Golden Leaf Festival, Mullins The Friday event is not your usual barbecue cook-off. Pitmasters are charged with grilling anything but barbecue pork. Following the competition, festival-goers can sample the smoky goodness and decide for themselves which is best. On Saturday, it’s back to pork butts for a South Carolina BBQ Association-sanctioned competition. Along with the public tastings, the festival will feature a parade, live entertainment, a car show, a craft exhibition and a kids’ park.
Irmo Okra Strut, Irmo Billed as the largest and longest-running celebration of okra in the United States, this festival has been celebrating our favorite pod for more than 45 years with a fun-packed weekend of good eating. The festivities kick off Friday night with a street dance, followed Saturday morning with the Okra Strut Parade. Other activities include an okra-eating contest, musical entertainment and carnival rides
Gaston Collard & BBQ Festival, Gaston A match made in food heaven, collards and barbecue take center stage with all the usual fixin's, including cornbread, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese and pound cake. This family-friendly event will also feature a barbecue cook-off, parade, rides, games, antique cars and live entertainment.
Kingstree Pig Pickin’ Festival, Kingstree Get your pork hot off the fire at this popular barbecue cook-off. The event also includes a purloo competition, carnival, parade, car show, live music performances, children’s activities and fireworks.
South Carolina Sweet Potato Festival, Darlington Get yourself a helping of sweet potato pie—or any of the other delicious dishes made with this root vegetable—at the daylong Pee Dee festival. Along with plenty of food, you’ll enjoy live entertainment, crafts, children’s games and an antique car show.
South Carolina Pecan, Music and Food Festival, Florence The smooth, brown nut—a holiday table staple in pies and stuffing—gets the star treatment each year at this popular downtown Florence event, drawing some 50,000 attendees a year. Culinary competitions reveal the versatility of the pecan, however you choose to pronounce it. Enjoy live entertainment, more than 250 food and craft vendors, amusement rides and antique tractor and car competitions.
Society Hill Catfish Festival, Society Hill Catfish stew. Catfish nuggets. Get ‘em both while they’re hot at this all-day festival in the cradle of the Pee Dee. Vendors will be selling arts, crafts and lots of other festival-food favorites like barbecue, smoked sausage and elephant ears. Don’t miss the small-town parade, complete with high school marching bands, beauty queens, floats and fire trucks.
Chitlin' Strut, Salley This is your opportunity to experience a true Southern delicacy—fried chitterlings, otherwise known as pig intestines. This time-honored celebration includes a parade, hawg-calling and strut contests, a beauty pageant and craft vendors.
Euphoria, Greenville A four-day food, wine and music festival, Euphoria offers something for everyone with dozens of events, including exclusive tastings, live musical performances, cooking demonstrations, wine seminars and multi-course dinners. More than 100 chefs and beverage professionals participate in this Greenville fest favorite.
Spartanburg Greek Festival, Spartanburg Chow down in Spartanburg on tasty Greek dishes like gyros, souvlaki, dolmathes and pastichio, then cap it off with one of the many Greek pastries, among them baklava, kataifi, diples, kourambiedes and koulourakia. Entertainment includes a Greek band and Greek dancing exhibitions. Opa!
Squealin’ on the Square, Laurens Downtown Laurens comes alive as cook teams from all over the Southeast compete in this ’cue contest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. The event also will feature food vendors, arts and crafts, live entertainment, a car show and cruise-in, an antique tractor show, kids’ activities and fireworks.
Fall for Greenville, Greenville The smell of deliciousness wafts through Greenville’s Main Street as some 40 local restaurants dish up more than 200 different food items. There are also food demonstrations, competitions for best entree and dessert, a beer garden, a kids’ area and multiple stages offering musical performances all weekend long.