Hilton Head Burgers & Brew Festival returns Saturday

tbarton@islandpacket.comSeptember 26, 2013 

  • If you go: Burgers and Brew

    The second annual Hilton Head Burgers & Brew Festival will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Shelter Cove Community Park, 39 Shelter Cove Lane on Hilton Head Island.

    Burgers will be served by area restaurants. Those of age can sample craft beers from breweries such as New Belgium, Sam Adams, Widmer, Aviator, Southern Tier and Carolina Brewery.

    The entry fee is $5, with an additional cost for food and drink. Children age 10 and under are free. The band Cranford Hollow will perform.

    Proceeds benefit the Island Recreation Association's scholarship fund and the University of South Carolina Beaufort hospitality program.

    Details: 843-681-7273, www.islandreccenter.org

The last thing Joe Cain needs this weekend are soggy burgers. Soggy chicken wings were bad enough.

Cool temperatures and showers washed out Wingfest in March for the second consecutive year, putting a financial strain on the Hilton Head Island Recreation Association, which runs the festival as a fundraiser.

The association hopes to make up some of its losses Saturday as it hosts the second annual TD Bank Burgers & Brew Festival presented by the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for Event and Hospitality Management. Proceeds benefit the association's needs-based scholarship program and USCB hospitality-management program.

"We need this to be big," said Cain, special-events director for the Island Recreation Association. "Right now, the weather looks good. It should be a good one and will help offset the Wingfest fiasco."

The National Weather Service forecasts calls for sunny skies with a high near 80 degrees Saturday.

The association, which runs and coordinates public recreation programs on the island, provides scholarships to low-income famalies to participate in sports, summer and after-school programs.Wingfest has been one of the association's biggest revenue sources in past years, according to association executive director Frank Soule. In both 2010 and 2011, the event netted about $45,000.

But the past two installments have raised less than $10,000 each, leaving the association about $17,000 in the hole at the end of last fiscal year, Soule said.

The association shored up part of the shortfall in April through Seafood Fest at Shelter Cove Community Park and concession sales at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, he added.

It also organized several other events during the summer to fund its operations and scholarship program, including a new farmers market at Shelter Cove.

"Fundraising has gone pretty well. We had a successful Heritage and summer events," Soule said. "Adding the farmers market to the mix has allowed us to generate some additional revenues for us."

Numbers, however, were not available Wednesday.

"Burgers & Brew kicks off our fundraising season, and last year's event was excellent," Soule said. "Working with USCB to create this opportunity to generate money to support our scholarship funds has been great and is critical to our overall operations. As long as beer and burgers stay popular, which I don't foresee changing any time soon, there is an excellent opportunity for this event to grow."

About 1,800 turned out for the first Burgers & Brew fundraiser last year, which replaced the annual Cajun Festival and puts the spotlight on an all-American favorite, Cain said.

Festival-goers can expect to see some inventive burgers. Turkey, shrimp, lamb and even bologna were grilled or cooked last year, and more than 20 craft beers will be available to taste. Fifteen area restaurants will compete for the title of "Best Slider" by a people's choice vote.

Charbar Co. won last year with its beef blend topped with smoky bacon marmalade, Dijon mustard and house-made dill pickles on a brioche bun. Dubbed the "champ burger," it is now featured on its menu and will be offered again at this year's festival along with a new, closely guarded entry.

"We're keeping that close to our vest until the day of. We take our burgers seriously," restaurant CEO Nick Bergelt said Wednesday.

But expect bold, unconventional pairings, Bergelt said, like the restaurant's filet mignon tartar topped with chopped caper, shallot, onion relish, crispy parmesan disc, arugula, herb mayo and fried egg.

"It's a labor of love for us and it's great to have the opportunity to showcase that and experiment with ingredients and flavor profiles," Bergelt said.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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