Can you imagine what 65,000 pounds of Oysters would look like?
If you can then you have probably been to The Lowcountry Oyster Festival before. I could not picture this, so I decided I had to make the 3 and a half hour drive to Mt. Pleasant,SC, to see what the world’s largest Oyster festival was all about. The festival was located at Boone Hall Plantation. Boone Hall was once a cotton and pecan plantation, but now grows peaches, strawberries, pumpkins, and tomatoes. The plantation has been a working farm for over 320 years and offers tours of the grounds and its history. It is also used for events such as the Oyster Festival.
Upon entering the plantation, it felt as though I had traveled back in time. The entrance up to the main house, where the festival was held, looked like the quintessential southern plantation that you see in movies. The main drive was lined on each side with gorgeous oak trees, full of hanging moss, that meet each other at the top creating a beautiful tunnel for you to follow. On Boone Plantation’s website they say that these oaks were planted in 1743.
This entrance alone told me I was in for a unique experience, and I had not even seen an oyster yet! That all changed when I made my way into the festival. The briny smell of steaming oysters filled the air as soon as I walked in. There were several tents that served a wide array of local seafood. You will get to see what I ate from these tents, but you will have to wait until later in the week. Onto the mission at hand, did this festival really have 65,000 pounds of oysters?
I am not sure what 65,000 ponds of oysters looks like, but I could not imagine it being more then what I saw before me. Everywhere I turned, I saw people carrying buckets full of dozens of steaming and delicious oysters. Most people went with the philosophy that two hands means they can carry two buckets. I saw a few brave souls that managed to carry three! These oysters came right out of the steamer and were hot! With it being 40 degrees outside you could tell by the amount of steam rising from each bucket as people walked by.
Row after row of tables were set up to excavate your oyster treasure from their shells. In the middle of the tables were large bins to dump your shells in. The shells are recycled by using them to create new beds for future oysters to grow on. Other than oysters there was a stage with live music and plenty of beer being served. Of course there were also oyster shucking and eating contests. I could not think of a better way to spend an end of January Sunday afternoon. If you are an oyster fan then you owe it to yourself to be there for next years festival!