Boone Hall Plantation
Mt. Pleasant, SC
On A Sunday In Late January
11 AM - 5PM
Gates open at 10 - Get there early!
With a little bit of help from my friends, about 10,000 of them, I worked my way through 65,000 pounds of steamed oysters. It's the Low Country Oyster Festival, sponsored each January by the Charleston Restaurant Association.
Happens at the Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, just north of Charleston. One of the most beautiful locations in the area and a perfect setting for for some serious open air eating.
The oysters are hauled in by the truck load in burlap bags. Each bag is dumped into a cooking tray which is then carried to the steamers. The oysters steam for just a few minutes, until the shells loosen up a bit.
The cooked oysters are then hauled to the serving line and dramatically dumped amidst a cloud of steam. Workers gather the steaming oysters into a bucket, money is exchanged, and the buckets of oysters are hauled to the eating area.
It's BYOSK&G - Bring your own shucking knife and glove. Along with a lawn chair if you'd feel like sitting. They sell knives and gloves for the unprepared.
The eating area is a series of long tables with a giant trash bin for the oyster shells at each end. Both the tables and the trash bin fill up quickly.
Some of the local restaurants set up stands too. It was on the cold and damp side and a place selling she crab soup was doing a booming business. But the festival is mostly about oyster eating. Bucket fulls at a time.
The best advice from the local folk. Everyone agreed. Get there early. When the gates open, and stake out your space at one of the tables.