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Get Reeled in by this Large Scale South Carolina Culinary Soiree

Whether you’re into world-class events or stunning natural scenery, Hilton Head Island has everything to make your next South Carolina vacation one for the ages. Golf enthusiasts must make time for the world famous Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, which features three pristine championship level golf courses and a variety of activities for all tastes. The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is ideal for any nature enthusiast featuring ample opportunities for wildlife viewing, photography, hiking, biking, and more.


The Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival has been the island’s leading spring culinary event for more than a decade, and it will take place February 19-25 at the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort. The event is a showcase of the South Carolina Coast's rich fishing heritage featuring a variety of seafood dishes by more than 25 of the region's top restaurants. Attendees can attend cooking demos by celebrity chefs like Ryan Prewitt and Martin Rios. A collection of carefully curated artisans and crafters will sell unique handmade goods in the vendor area, and Sip and Shop at Tanger offers patrons the chance to sample libations and small bites while they explore an outlet mall. Those looking to get hands-on will be enamored with the Lowcountry Seafood Experience on the Water which includes fishing, crabbing and shrimping instruction by top local fishermen Christopher and Matthew Shoemaker. The James Beard Foundation's Celebrity Chef Tour is a must for any foodie featuring a multi-course dinner and wine pairings from a collection of James Beard Foundation Award winners. The David M. Carmines Memorial Foundation hosts the event -- it's a nonprofit organization that supports local causes including the Coastal Discovery Museum, Port Royal Sound Foundation, Gullah Heritage Museum and more. interviewed Event Representative Kelly Smith to learn more about this unique culinary affair.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

KS: 2018 is the 11th year of the Festival.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

KS: 2017 attracted just over 8,500 people.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

KS: We develop a schedule of week-long events that are uniquely Lowcountry and allow for families, couples and groups (girls trips, etc.) to join us.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

KS: The Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival is one of the only festivals in the southeast that genuinely blends world-class culinary talent with culture, art, and wildlife. You can fish with our incredible captains, shoot with expert marksman, dine with James Beard Award Winning Chefs, learn from the best pitmasters and take in all the incredible artisans, restaurants and music with each different event.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

KS: The event website has a full breakdown of the activities.


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

KS: We have great talent at this year's event, and they are all listed here.  


RAL: What dining options will attendees find?

KS: Guests of the Saturday Seafood Festival can sample dishes from over 25 restaurants. It's a fantastic way to revisit a favorite dish or try something exciting and new.


RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?

KS: Its Southern hospitality at its best as we pride ourselves on providing an exceptional experience for all of our attendees.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?

KS: The Festival’s official Host Hotel is The Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort. This culinary-focused resort is located in the Palmetto Dunes Resort. As part of the prestigious Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort community, the luxury Hilton Head beach hotel offers an 11-mile lagoon system ideal for kayaking and canoeing, bike trails, 25 tennis courts and three championship Hilton Head golf courses featuring 54 holes of golf. The resort also showcases a beautiful new beachside poolscape that includes two family pools, one adults-only pool, a kid’s splash zone, two hot tubs and private cabanas all set among our native tropical foliage. The Omni boasts exclusive packages that include tickets to festival events and provides an excellent discount to guests. Additional details here.  


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

KS: One of the unique aspects of this festival is that not only does it raise money for local charities, but it also contributes to the local economy in a huge way. Participating restaurants, artisans, and farmers who participate in the Festival see a big surge in revenue.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

KS: The Festival’s Foundation is the David M. Carmines Memorial Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that helps raise money for other non-profit organizations including the Coastal Discovery Museum, Island Recreation Scholarship Fund, Port Royal Sound Foundation, Gullah Heritage Museum and the Medical University of South Carolina.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

KS: Our festival is the quintessential, Lowcountry family-style culinary celebration on Hilton Head Island. It’s one of the only week-long festivals that allows guests to explore artisan-made art, gifts, and specialty items all while tasting the very best of our coastal cuisine and spirits. Over the course of seven days, guests take in celebrity guest chef dinners, the best of southern pitmasters, local wildlife, cooking demos, wine tastings, mixologist, scholars and more. The festival explores the South's evolving food culture, which has been returning to its roots in recent years by honoring its prosperous native agriculture. From incredible seafood meals to rustic barbecue and bonfires, world-class talent and southern charm collide on one gorgeous island setting.

For more information about the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival, please visit the event website.