Each year the people of Charleston, South Carolina, gather for the Lowcountry Oyster Festival; this coming year the event will take place on January 29th, 2012 at the Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. The Oyster Festival is a tribute to the great mollusk that so many people love and appreciate. For 20 consecutive years, the Lowcountry Oyster Festival has been named one of the top 20 events in the southeast. Since 1991 the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association (GCRA) has held the event on the grounds of historic Boone Hall Plantation. Located on well over 700 acres of land, just north of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Boone Hall is one of America’s oldest working plantations. The venue can easily accommodate groups from 30 to 15,000; to do so, the Oyster Festival puts up numerous tents and a permanent stage on the plantation’s large lawn in the back of the building.
Main events on January 29th will include the legendary “Oyster Shucking & Eating Contest,” selection of domestic and imported beers, and live entertainment, as well as a kids’ corner with pony rides and jumping castles. The event will take place rain or shine. For those who are not crazy about oysters, there will be alternate food selections from Gilligan's Steamer and Raw Bar, A.W. Shuck's Seafood Restaurant, North Towne Greek Restaurant, Red's Ice House, Wild Wing Cafe, Grindz Burgers & Brew, Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q, and Hyman's Seafood Company.
The GCRA is the largest private sector employer in the area; the association serves as the voice of the Charleston Area food service industry on government and public relations issues. Annual fundraising events such as the Taste of Charleston and Lowcountry Oyster Festival, both sponsored by the GCRA, allow them to give back to the community. As of today, the GCRA has donated more than $1,000,000 to the Ronald McDonald House, Hollings Cancer Center, and Charleston County Schools Science Materials Resource Center. Thus, the event is not just a reason to eat and to celebrate food, but also an opportunity to raise money for a good cause.