Beaufort’s Oyster Festival goes on despite a chilly forecast. Thousands expected

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The Beaufort Oyster Festival, which is expected to attract thousands, goes on Friday and Saturday despite the chilly forecast — and there will be lots to do at Waterfront Park besides eating oysters prepared any number of ways.

The second-annual event, which highlights the oystering culture and agri-tourism economy, gives local businesses a January boost during the slow season, said Ashlee Houck, president and CEO of the Beaufort Area Hospitality Association.

“This weather is par for the course for an oyster roast,” Houck said of the drizzly and cool conditions.

Check out the Beaufort Oyster Festival this weekend which is expected to draw thousands to Waterfront Park.
Check out the Beaufort Oyster Festival this weekend which is expected to draw thousands to Waterfront Park.

Tents have been set up to protect everything and everybody should it rain, Houck said. Saturday’s high is expected to be 41, but the day will gradually become mostly sunny, according to the National Weather Service.

The festival was created by the Beaufort Area Hospitality Association to attract locals and visitors to the Sea Islands to indulge in oysters.

It began with “tides to tables” in conjunction with S.C. Restaurant Week and concluded with a week of “mini festival events” throughout northern Beaufort County.

Last year was basically a private festival because of COVID-19 restrictions, Houck said. This year, the association was estimating between 3,000 to 6,000 before the forecast was announced. Houck still is hoping for “big numbers” and said “we’re prepared” for the weather.

Admission to the Oyster Festival, at Waterfront Park on Bay Street from 3-9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, is free, with food and drink tickets available for purchase. Oysters will be prepared numerous ways, from roasted to steamed to on the half. And you can see how they are prepared, too. If you aren’t into oysters, other food will be available, including turkey legs, burgers and more.

On Friday evening, enjoy live music: The Country Project performs from 3 to 6 p.m. and Steel Rail Express from 6 to 9 p.m.

Sign up in person for the 5k Boogie run, which starts at 8 a.m. Saturday at Bay and Newcastle streets with the route through downtown Beaufort and across the Woods Memorial Bridge. Competition and social cornhole are planned Saturday as well. See a full listing of evenings at https://bfthospitality.com/.

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