Food & Drink

Festival Report: Hilton Head Seafood Festival

Erika Waronsky of Steamers Seafood on Hilton Head Island dishes up some Voodoo Skillet for customers during the 2009 Hilton Head Seafood Festival. The eighth installment of the festival kicked off on Sunday and is set to continue through this Saturday.
Erika Waronsky of Steamers Seafood on Hilton Head Island dishes up some Voodoo Skillet for customers during the 2009 Hilton Head Seafood Festival. The eighth installment of the festival kicked off on Sunday and is set to continue through this Saturday. File/The Island Packet

A night out for seafood can get pricey. But the Hilton Head Seafood Festival allows for a whole afternoon of shrimp, oysters and fish for a lot less.

The fourth annual festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Shelter Cove Community Park. Admission is $5. Restaurants will be selling samples of their dishes for anywhere between $2 to $5.

A rainy day put a damper on festivities last year, but organizers expect it to come back strong.

"You don't want to see a rainy day, but people came out with umbrellas last year," said Andrew Carmines, general manager of Hudson's On the Docks and event co-organizer. "If we get a nice day, we'll be set."

WHY YOU SHOULD GO

The area's top seafood restaurants will be offering up samples. About 13 have signed up, including Old Oyster Factory, Alexander's, Red Fish, Crazy Crab, Black Marlin, Kenny B's, Bluffton Oyster Co., Hudson's and Marley's.

An "Iron Chef"-style challenge pits local chefs against each other in a blind cook off. Each chef will get a set amount of time to come up with a gourmet dish from a basket of mystery ingredients.

The day is more than just one big seafood boil. Live music will last through the day by Chris Jones, The Beagles and Mike Korbar.

Youngsters will get something to do with a special kids-only zone with bounce houses and games. The Famous Crab Races pit hermit crabs in a mad dash -- or slow crawl -- to glory.

The silent auction features trips to wine country and private dinners from local chefs.

Returning is the Italian American Club of Hilton Head's annual bocce tournament. Details: info@iachh.org

BEHIND THE SCENES

The festival is the main fundraiser for the David M. Carmines Foundation. David Carmines, the son of Hudson's restaurant owners Brian and Gloria Carmines, died of cancer in 2001. The festival was initially part of the SpringFest festivities in the '80s. After David's death, it became the Water Festival, celebrating his love of the sea. But it petered out after a move from Hudson's to Shelter Cove. It was re-imagined in 2008 as the seafood festival.

THE CAUSE

The festival has raised about $250,000 since it's re-establishment. Organizers expect about 5,000 people to attend this year. All money raised goes to the American Cancer Society, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center and the Island Recreation Association Scholarship fund.

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