As Labor Day marks the practical end of summer, fall brings the start of festivals and celebrations of Lowcountry life.
In Beaufort and Jasper counties, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a shrimp lover, enjoy live music, want an inside look at historic homes, or simply like an excuse to socialize.
This fall’s schedule is much fuller than 2020’s because the COVID-19 pandemic canceled many major events. So far, the festivals listed are set to go on as planned, but the rate of confirmed coronavirus cases in Beaufort County is worse now than during the height of the pandemic. As of Thursday, the county’s two-week incidence rate was 1,303 cases per 100,000 people.
Along with the festivals, other reoccurring events are scheduled for fall, such as Beaufort’s First Fridays and farmers markets in Bluffton, Hilton Head and Port Royal.
Here are some of the events planned for this month and October:
Boiled Peanut Festival – Sept. 11
Did you know the boiled peanut is South Carolina’s official State Snack Food? There will be plenty to snack on at Bluffton’s 10th Boiled Peanut Festival, presented by the Historic Bluffton Foundation and The Heritage Peanut Co. There will also be live music, a boiled peanut-eating contest, Little Ms. Peanut competition and a boiled peanut cook-off for the title of “Best Nuts in Town.”
The “World’s Largest Boiled Peanut,” whose home is near the parking lot of Cahill’s Market, always makes an appearance.
The festival is from noon to 6 p.m. on Common Ground at the Heyward House in Old Town Bluffton. Tickets, which can be purchased in advance online, are $15. Children ages 10 and under are free. Admission includes all-you-can-eat boiled peanuts, with beer, wine, soft drinks and water available for purchase. Food trucks will also be onsite.
Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival – Sept. 14 to 18
For more than three decades, locals and visitors have gathered to drink wine together at the Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival.
This year’s festival has multiple events: wine dinners, a Sip and Stroll, and more. The signature event, Public Tasting, will be at Celebration Park across from Coligny Beach.
For more information on individual events and to purchase tickets, visit https://hiltonheadwineandfood.com/.
Yemassee Shrimp Festival – Sept. 17 and 18
The Yemassee Shrimp Festival is returning this year with its usual pageant, parade, live music and more. Carnival rides will be there, along with food vendors and other craft/retail vendors.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control will be offering Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations and conduct free coronavirus testing inside the government building from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday.
This year’s theme is “Under the Sea.” Events, which are free, will be from noon to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.
Blufftemberfest – Sept. 25
The annual Blufftemberfest will return to Bluffton Oyster Factory Park as part of the Bluffton Sunset Party Series. The festival offers live music, a craft beer garden, wine bar vendors and food for purchase. The family-friendly event is also open to leashed pets.
Admission is $5 at the door. Kids 12 or under are free. The event is from 3 to 8 p.m.
Hilton Head Island Shrimp Festival – Sept. 25
If you like shrimp and want to sample it in multiple ways, the Hilton Head Island Shrimp Festival at Harbour Town in Sea Pines is for you. A range of dishes from local chefs, including Lowcountry boil, shrimp sausage, Bloody Mary shrimp ceviche, local shrimp with chimichurri, pork belly, smoked peach gazpacho, ahi chili pebre, will be available.
The festival also offers drinks from craft breweries, other vendors, live music and kid-friendly activities. Other food and beverages will be available for purchase.
Tickets, which can be bought in advance online at early bird prices, are $30 for those under 21 and $50 for those age 21 and older and include admission to Sea Pines. Alcohol tastings are included for those 21 or older.
The event is from 1 to 4 p.m. on the lawn adjacent to the Liberty Oak in Harbour Town.
OktoPRfest – Sept. 25
OktoPRfest, presented by the Old Village Association, will bring German and American food to downtown Port Royal along with a variety of craft beer, live music and other vendors. The event will have a kid zone, classic cars and more.
The free festival is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Beaufort Shrimp Festival – Oct. 1 and 2
The 27th Beaufort Shrimp Festival will bring shrimp-lovers together at the city’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Festival-goers can enjoy shrimp dishes and live music, participate in the Run Forrest Run 5k, and visit multiple other retail and food vendors.
Although the event is free, food and merchandise vendors won’t be accepting cash or credit cards. There will be a ticket system, with each ticket costing a $1. For more information and to purchase in advance, visit https://bit.ly/3yG5Cnh.
Gopher Hill Festival – Oct. 1 and 2
Ridgeland’s Gopher Hill Festival is celebrating its 49th year with the theme “Keep Gopher Hill Beautiful.” Ridgeland was originally named Gopher Hill because of the gopher tortoise, which was indigenous to the area at the time. The town was later renamed Ridgeland because the railroad depot was on the ridge between Charleston and Savannah.
Deacons of Swing and Deas-Guys are scheduled to perform Friday and Saturday, respectively. The remaining schedule of events is not available, but typically includes a pageant, parade, turtle races and live music in family-friendly fun in downtown.
Hardeeville’s Festival on Main – Oct. 15 and 16
Hardeeville’s festival, which began in 2019, will have carnival rides, food, drink, craft vendors, live entertainment by the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, Pachanga, and Deas-Guyz, and more.
Events run 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m to 9 p.m. Saturday in downtown.
Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival – Oct. 16 to 24
A bountiful list of events makes up the 17th Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival this year, starting with the Supper Soirée on Oct. 16 and concluding with a Street Fest on Oct. 23 and 24. It will include work by more than 100 artists, as well as food from local restaurants.
Other events range from May River boat tours and oyster farm tours to 5k/10k races.
For more information on each event and to purchase tickets, visit https://blufftonartsandseafoodfestival.org/.
Beaufort Fall ArtWalk – Oct. 22
Calling all art lovers: This annual seasonal event, which had to take a break last year because of COVID-19, is returning to downtown Beaufort. Thirteen galleries are participating and will display a range of art from more than 400 artists. There will also be demonstrations at four galleries and door prizes for festival-goers.
The event is free to attend and will be from 4:30 to 9 p.m.
Italian Heritage Festival – Oct. 23
For more than a decade, people have gathered to celebrate Italian culture with food and live entertainment on Hilton Head Island at the Italian Heritage Festival. This year the Italian-American Club is bringing the event back with favorite events such as the grape stomping and pizza eating contests. There will also be new events and plenty of traditional food and drink available for purchase.
The event is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn. Tickets can be purchased for $6 online at https://www.iachh.org/italian-heritage-festival.
Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens – Oct. 23 to 25
This annual festival in Beaufort organized by the Historic Beaufort Foundation offers multiple ticketed events, such as walking tours of the National Historic Landmark District, different lectures and even a Lowcountry picnic. A highlight of this festival is the opportunity to see inside some of the private, historic homes. This year celebrates “The Beaufort Style.”
For more information and to purchase tickets in advance, visit https://historicbeaufort.org/fall-festival-of-houses-gardens/.
Gullah Food Festival – Oct. 30
The 5th Annual Gullah Food Festival will celebrate Gullah customs, traditions, language, stories, songs and structures, as well as an array of food. The event will include Gullah storytellers and community speakers, music, games and activities for kids.