Remembering the Past; Taking Care of the Future in Bluffton.

The Heyward House Museum is located squarely in Old Town Bluffton and is an awesome place to learn  about the town's  history.

The Heyward House Museum is located squarely in Old Town Bluffton and is an awesome place to learn about the town’s history. Photo: Heyward House Museum

Bluffton locals surely love to get together. They will, in fact, make most anything into a celebratory gathering given half a chance. The reasons run the gamut from celebrating the first frosty weather because that’s when the local oysters are in season and at their most flavorful, to commemorating events of historical significance, like The Burning of Bluffton.

Now it may be surprising to hear that a town would commemorate an event every June 4 that pretty much burnt the entire place to the ground when Federal troops overtook the town during the Civil War. But over at the Heyward House, home of The Bluffton Historical Preservation Society, they use this significance as a touchstone to the past, as well as a fundraising opportunity to support their programs. This year will feature a book signing with Jeff Fulgham author of The Bluffton Expedition: The Burning of Bluffton, South Carolina, During the Civil War. There will also be a reenactment with Kim Poovey portraying Mrs. Pauline DeCaradeuc Heyward, whose journal was made into the book, A Confederate Lady Comes of Age.

Bluffton's Secession Oak. Photo: Beaufort County Library archives.

Bluffton’s Secession Oak. Photo: Beaufort County Library archives.

Also located in Bluffton is a formidable oak tree with quite a history, referred to as the “Secession Oak’. It is acknowledged that under this oak, the first South Carolina secession movement began (also called the Bluffton Movement) propelled by an apparently fiery speech made by U.S. Senator Robert Barnwell Rhett, Sr. In 2010 a reenactment of this event commemorated its 166th anniversary.

This oak is estimated to be between 300 and 400 years old and is located on private property behind the Stock Farm development off of the May River Road and at this time there is no access to view it.

Blufftonians consider the flora and fauna of their little corner of the Lowcountry sacred and expect visitors to feel the same way, from river and marshland to the shady lanes of Old Town with it’s low slung oaks swathed in Spanish moss. While that Bluffton state of mind is still cherished here, so is good old-fashioned elbow grease. Add to this a true sense of community and a deep appreciation of nature, and you get the May River Cleanup. Every year for several years now, Blufftonians – over 200 of them – have gathered to remove trash and other waste from nearly 12 miles of river and five miles of roadways. And after the work is done, what do we do? We relax and celebrate a little!

The May River Cleanup - by land and sea the volunteers get it done! Photo: Neighbors for Clean Water

The May River Cleanup – by land and sea the volunteers get it done! Photo: Neighbors for Clean Water

It’s also Earth Day after all, so head on over to Calhoun Street in Old Town for activities and learning experiences fit for the whole family. Kids can ‘get crafty’ with green art, complete the fun obstacle course and visit vendors that support products and services to help you achieve green living and care for the environment. There will be music, chef-demonstrations and food as well.

The 2014 Earth Day Celebration will also be the third time effort for a ZERO WASTE event, which was accomplished in 2012 and 2013!  ZERO WASTE suggests that the entire concept of waste should be eliminated using strategies such as recycling and composting. The Earth Day Celebration Event Committee in collaboration with i2Recycle will collect, measure, audit, and document all waste generated from the event, and use this data to support next steps and future event success. This year’s Earth Day event is April 26 from 11am – 5 pm but it all begins with the May River Cleanup at 9 am at Oyster Factory Park. You can read more about this event at experiencegreen.org.

Time to learn and have some fun - at the 2014 Earth Day Celebration! Photo: Experience Green

Time to learn and have some fun – at the 2014 Earth Day Celebration! Photo: Experience Green

Yes, Bluffton is a place where the past is remembered and the future is thoughtfully tended to with the care and pride that comes with a true sense of place – and a good helping of f-u-n! And you’re all invited!

From the ordinary to the fun and even the extraordinary, Bluffton is the spot to visit this spring! You’ll find more that you ever expected – from one-of-a-kind art created by local artisans to frolicking good events and festivals – all opportunities to gather and celebrate the soul, mind and palate.