Charleston in an (oyster) shell

Boone Hall Plantation hosted the 34th annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival. (Photo by Grace Samuelson)

Boone Hall Plantation and Garden’s Lowcountry Oyster Festival has been named one of the “top 20 events in the southeast” by the Southeastern Tourism Society. Filled with music, decadent food, games and breathtaking views, it easily earned its place on the list. Locals and tourists alike flooded the plantation on Jan. 29 to partake in this year’s spread. Not just another tourist trap, the festival truly gave a taste of Lowcountry culture. 

Featured in hundreds of websites, magazines and papers, Charleston cuisine hardly lacks choices. So how can a festival based around a single food captivate the attention and the wallets of thousands? After all, oysters are a Charleston staple, available at most restaurants in the area.

But not in the quantity of 80,000 pounds. For its 34th year, the festival brought in around this many oysters to feed the thousands of guests. Last year, an estimated 12,000 people were in attendance, and the numbers only continue to rise each year. The festival’s popularity is undeniable.

But do not think this is an opportunity to dine in posh, Charlestonian elitist style. It is a place to have a good time the way real local residents do. This included a long oyster station filled with various sauces, buckets and shucking tools. Such interactive oyster shucking

The festival provided over 80,000 pounds of oysters. (Photo by Grace Samuelson)

brought strangers together as they learned how to get their hands dirty and shuck an oyster.  

The oysters were complimented by other forms of entertainment, including an area with rides and kettle corn. Line dancers wowed the crowd in front of the dance floor as mellower folks sat on picnic blankets and swayed to the music.

The oyster festival showed off Lowcountry culture better than shrimp and grits or biscuits and gravy ever could. Charleston represents the South, but it also represents the coasts, swamps and beaches that dot its peninsula. The festival provided a look into every aspect that makes Charleston the iconic place it has came to be. It was Charleston in an oyster shell.

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