The Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival is now a two-day affair.
The fifth annual festival expands this year to include Friday evening activities in addition to the main event Saturday at Shelter Cove Community Park.
The pre-fest gathering is from 5 to 8 p.m. April 27 and features music from Cranford & Sons with food from Hudson's On the Docks, Skull Creek Boathouse and Street Meet. Organizers are expecting the Friday festivities to draw a younger audience coming after work or school.
"It'll be a smaller, more intimate festival," said Andrew Carmines of Hudson's. "It'll be a nice night in the park."
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Other festivals have recently expanded into evening-before events -- such as Hilton Head's Wingfest and Oyster Fest, both organized by the Island Rec Center -- as a means to raise more money for their cause. The seafood festival, a fundraiser for cancer charities, usually is set up the evening before, so it wasn't too much more work to put on a Friday event, Carmines said.
The main event is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 28 and will be organized much like the previous incarnations. More than a dozen restaurants will serve up seafood samples for purchase. The Headliners will provide music. There will be a silent auction. Bounce houses and games will be set up for kids. The Italian American Club of Hilton Head will hold its annual bocce tournament. The Iron Chef competition will pit local chefs in a cooking contest.
The festival serves as a fundraiser for the David M. Carmines Foundation. David Carmines, the son of Hudson's owners Brian and Gloria Carmines, died of cancer in 2001. The festival has raised more than $300,000 since it was established in 2008. Money goes to the American Cancer Society, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center and the Island Recreation Scholarship Fund.