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Carolina Style

As fall and winter approach, so does the Carolina's oyster season.

Though each oyster festival has it’s own character, all typically offer music, contests involving oysters, food and beverage vendors, and oysters for sale in various forms. Steaming buckets of the tasty bivalves are the most typical festival fare, but the oyster is often celebrated raw, fried, and in rich stews as well.


With more than 30,000 fans of the mighty mollusk typically in attendance, the North Carolina Oyster Festival on Ocean Isle Beach celebrates its 30th anniversary October 16th-17. This festival includes the North Carolina Oyster Shucking Championships (an official route to the national tourney) as well as an oyster stew cook-off.

The counterpart festival in the Palmetto State is Columbia’s South Carolina Oyster Festival November 14th on the grounds of the historic Robert Mills House downtown. Now in its 15th year, typical festival offerings are here and more than 5,000 pounds of oysters.

The mother lode of oyster festivals occurs in Charleston every January (January 30th, 2011). Promoted as “The World’s Largest Oyster Festival”, the Lowcountry Oyster Festival has become an annual tradition since the first one more than 25 years ago. Sponsored by the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association (more than one million dollars raised for local charities), this huge festival takes place at historic Boone Hall Plantation and typically includes 65,000+ pounds of oysters!

Other oyster festivals include: Burke Arts Council Oyster Outing (Morganton, NC, October 23, 2010); Stumpy Point Oyster Festival (Stumpy Point, NC, February 12, 2011); and Shuckin’ in the Park (Moncks Corner, SC, March 12, 2011).

*Visit AAA.com/magazine for a tasty oyster stew recipe from Charleston’s Slightly North of Broad executive chef Frank Lee