Brace yourselves, Hilton Head: Something big and round and whirling is coming to the island this month.
A five-story Ferris wheel, along with two other carnival rides, will rise at Honey Horn Plantation on Feb. 23 for the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival Saturday event, according to Andrew Carmines, president of the David M. Carmines Foundation, which hosts the event.
“From what I know growing up here, Hilton Head has never had something like this before, at least for the last 40 years,” Carmines said of the giant Ferris wheel. “We’ve always wanted the Saturday event of the Seafood Festival to really be a spectacle with a lot of liveliness where the whole family can spend the day and have fun.”
That vision is coming to life this year with the 47-foot-tall Ferris wheel, a 100-foot slide and a ride called the Rock O Plane, which is smaller than a Ferris wheel, but with full cages that allow thrill-seekers to spin upside down during the ride.
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Big Round Wheel, a family-owned carnival rental company from Blacksburg, South Carolina, will bring the attraction to the island, Kelly Smith, public relations coordinator for the festival, said.
Smith said officials at the Town of Hilton Head and the Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue have approved the rides and fire officials will be at the event to ensure safety. The rides will be set up the day before the event and taken down afterward, Smith said.
The addition of the carnival-style rides is expected to attract both tourists and locals on the island. Ticket sales have been increasing, from 3,000 tickets sold for the main Saturday event in 2016 to over 7,000 in 2018, according to Carmines.
Carmines said organizers expect about 11,000 people to attend the Saturday event, which features food from over a dozen local restaurants, celebrity chef demonstrations, and a beer garden. The Seafood Festival also hosts nine other culinary-inspired events throughout the week.
Carmines hopes the Ferris Wheel will show the island in a way people have never seen before.
“That’s the whole idea... getting to the top of that thing and overlooking a sea of people in Honey Horn and the tops of the Live Oak trees and maybe even some marshland of Hilton Head,” Carmines said. “It’s going be great.”
The rides will cost an additional $5 per person per ride, on top of the $10 entrance fee to the festival (which can be purchased online here). The rides are for all ages, but you must be 42 inches tall to ride the Ferris wheel and Rock O Plane without an adult and 32 inches tall to ride the Giant Slide without an adult.
All proceeds from rides and the Festival will benefit the David M. Carmines Memorial Foundation, a charity named after Andrew’s brother that supports local organizations such as the Island Rec Center, as well as cancer research. Last year, the Seafood Festival raised over $135,000 for local charities.