Seafood Nirvana at the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival

Crabs cakes? Shrimp? Fresh local seafood? Try it all at the 8th Annual Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival! Photo courtesy of the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival.

Sure, you may know the Hilton Head Island Lowcountry and even it’s neighbors, Bluffton and Daufuskie Island, but do you know one of the top coastal fall food festivals is right here in our own backyard? The 8th annual Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival is a weeklong annual event celebrating the “Bluffton State of Mind” and features locally harvested seafood, rich history, a juried art show, and more. Since this blog is foodcentric, be mindful that while I appreciate artisan crafts and their skillful makers, I am all about the food at this festival!

Bluffton’s burgeoning food scene is kick’n it into high gear throughout the week during this festival starting with Oyster Fest on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 5 pm. If you’re a bi-valve lover get yourself down to the Bluffton Oyster Factory Park off Wharf Street for the first official oyster roast of the season. There will also be local barbeque and seafood boil for those hankering for full-on 3-course meal. Live music and friendly folks lingering over good food and a May River sunset complete the first night setting of this festival.

The festival runs October 14-21 with the 2-day Street Fest (with its myriad of local food vendors) taking place along Calhoun Street on Saturday and Sunday, the 20th and 21st.

More exceptional Lowcountry specialties are on hand during the week as well. Go behind the scenes of the one of the country’s largest and most sophisticated facilities for mariculture research, the Waddell Research and Development Center, and then dine on a Lowcountry boil buffet with chili, cornbread, and more. Friday Night at the Promenade (Oct. 19th, 6 pm) includes a family friendly movie under the stars as well as environmental activities and food provided by local restaurants like Bluffton BBQ, Captain Woody’s and Parrot Cove Ice Cream Cafe.

The foodie fun reaches toward its crescendo as the weekend and the Art & Seafood Festival “Street Fest” approaches! On Saturday, the 20th it’s a seafood battle of the ages when top local chefs compete at the Iron Chef Challenge in Neptune’s Galley beginning at 11 am. Will defending champ Sean Walsh of Red Fish again capture the crown? Or will an upstart talent, with superlative seafood savoir-fare, garner the accolades of the crowd? It’s anyone’s guess during this tongue-in-cheek clash of culinary titans. If this competition

Chefs put the finishing touchs to their entry in the “Iron Chef” Competition during the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival. Photo courtesy of the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival.

leaves you hungry don’t be surprised but be swift and head over straight away to the “midway of food” along Calhoun. Street. Yes, there will a veritable bounty of ocean-caught delicacies transformed into every imaginable seafood treat from spicy seafood gumbo to heavenly crab cakes to fried oysters served with a horseradish mustard sauce.

The Bluffton Oyster Company and adjacent Bluffton Oyster Factory Park is the scene for both Oyster Fest on the 14th and “Rockin’ the Dock” on the 20th. Photo courtesy: Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival.

If you’re tastes desire something delish not from the sea, then you’re good, as there will be local restaurants and caterers ‘a plenty at the festival offering everything from hamburgers to traditional pulled pork barbeque to fresh baked goodies and more! And if you’re game for even more seafood and music, the popular “Rockin’ the Dock” returns to the Bluffton Oyster Company at 6 pm with more locally caught fresh seafood, more live music and fabulous fireworks to cap off the evening.

The festivals’ final day of fun begins again at 10 am on Sunday the 21st, with art and of course, more fresh seafood all along Calhoun Street and Old Town Bluffton. Relish what will surely be a delightful fall day in Bluffton. Have a bite at any food tent you may have missed the day before – or have “just one more” of your favorite dish. No matter if it’s Asian Mahi Mahi skewers, blackened sea scallops or just good ‘ole shrimp and grits, there’s sure to be a seafood favorite (or three!) to be discovered and savored at the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival 2012!