Memories of a Lowcountry Oyster Festival

February 19, 2018 § Leave a comment

CHG VIP $250 Ticket Winner/Guest Carmela Gordon Describes Lowcountry Oyster Festival Fun

On a rainy Sunday, January 28, Carmela Gordon and her boyfriend enjoyed an afternoon of oysters, food, libations and fun at the Charleston Hospitality Group’s VIP tent at the Lowcountry Oyster Festival. The 47 year-old accounting professor at Trident Technical College was “very excited” when she heard she won out of a field of almost 600 social media submissions.

A Lowcountry native, it was her first visit to the Lowcountry Oyster Festival since age 11, and the very first festival shared with her boyfriend. “We both love oysters. The CHG buffet food was awesome. We especially loved the shrimp and grits from TOAST, the shrimp from Cove Oyster Bar & Grille, and the chicken and sweet potato waffles from Eli’s Table,” says Gordon.

Gordon and her family of 3 children and 3 grandchildren returned to Charleston in 2013 because she loves the festivals, food and people here. “I wanted the kids to grow up in Charleston. We plan on returning to the Lowcountry Oyster Festival next year.”

carmela

Coastal Conservation Society of South Carolina Performing Mollusk Goodness

February 13, 2018 § Leave a comment

The shells from this huge event do much good for South Carolina’s environment, thanks to the hard work of the Coastal Conservation Society of South Carolina. That’s one of the reasons Charleston Hospitality Group loves to participate as a sponsor every year for the popular Lowcountry Oyster Roast. From The State:
Charleston, SC – Heralded as one of the top 20 events in the Southeast as well as the world’s largest oyster roast, the annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant is a celebration of all things oysters. Nearly 80,000 pounds of the bivalves are steamed or roasted in one day for the large crowds of people gathered to consume them. Since 2008, Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina (CCA SC) has organized a group of volunteers to collect and recycle the empty shells for the building of new oyster reefs in the estuaries of the Palmetto State.

“This has been an amazing effort to be a part of,” said Gary Keisler, CCA SC Topwater Action Campaign chairman and organizer of the volunteers. “Looking back on where we started from, to see all the volunteers we now have participating is simply inspiring. Even the attendees now participate in the process and the level of cooperation between the Restaurant Association, CCA SC, and the SCDNR has grown so much that we now expect to recycle as close to 100 percent of the shells as we can get.”

When the group first began working with the Charleston Restaurant Association staff and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the effort seemed daunting. Started in 2008 with an intrepid group of a half dozen volunteers, the effort has grown to 155 shell collectors in 2017 as well as 70 volunteers from the Culinary Institute at Trident Tech in Charleston and students from MUSC helping for the first time in 2018. Now, a large percentage of the task of the day focuses on educating event attendees on what they, the “oyster recovery team” volunteers, are doing and why.

“We were totally filthy at the end of the day those first few years,” said Keisler. “Between picking up shells left on the ground and shifting through the shells to remove the trash, it was dirty work. Now, people see the benefit of why we are doing it and help us out a lot more. We simply see it as a celebration with a purpose.”

Over the 10 years that CCA SC has been participating, more than half a million pounds of shells, about 10,755 bushels, have been collected at this one event. In that same time frame, CCA SC has invested more than $80,000 in equipment and donated it to SCDNR to establish and maintain a fleet of tools and vehicles specifically for oyster recycling and deployment. The recreational angling group truly recognizes oyster recycling and oyster reef restoration as a cornerstone of its expanding list of habitat work to benefit both South Carolina’s marine resources as well as Palmetto State anglers.

“This event is really a fantastic opportunity for us to acquire a lot of reef material in one location on one day,” said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. “And it all gets put right back into our creeks and tidal marshes to facilitate the growth of new oyster reefs which in turn contributes to cleaner water, creates juvenile fish habitat, and provides erosion control. It really is a wonderful conservation story and a tradition we think goes hand-in-hand with cool, crisp, lowcountry weather and steaming hot oysters.”
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