Bluffton, South Carolina – The Festivaliest Town in the South

Do you like how I’m just making up words now? Well, I couldn’t find the right word to describe Bluffton so, out of necessity, “festivaliest.”

Bright, sunshiney day in the coolest town ever.
Bright, sunshiney day in the coolest town ever.

If you have never been to Bluffton, South Carolina, you probably will want to visit soon. It’s been getting all kinds of press lately and the secret seems to be getting out about this awesome growing town. Or maybe you have been there but just didn’t know it. If you have ever gone to Hilton Head Island, you drove through Bluffton to get there. But not far from the big box stores and strip malls along US 278 is a magical, funky little town with great art, great history and great food.

Some of the many amazing vendors at this year's festival.
Some of the many amazing vendors at this year’s festival.

Bluffton is just a really cool place to hang. And Blufftonians like to celebrate. A lot. It seems like there is a festival in Bluffton just about every month. Or really every week. The Bluffton Farmer’s Market is truly one of the best I’ve ever seen. With live music, farm stalls and food vendors lining Calhoun Street and little concern for open containers, it is like having a festival every single Thursday. But there are also serious organized festivals throughout the year.

One of these things just doesn't belong here. . . . Sweet and spicy shrimp taco, HUGE seafood display, crab claw, shrimp and grits, fried oysters and shrimp, and, um, pepperoni pizza?
One of these things just doesn’t belong here. . . . Sweet and spicy shrimp taco  (Shrimp Loco), HUGE seafood display, crab claw, shrimp and grits (Stooges Cafe), fried oysters and shrimp (Bluffton Oyster Factory), and, um, pepperoni pizza (New York City Pizza)? I don’t know where some of the other stuff came from as I was just taking photos of friends’ food!

It’s hard to come up with a favorite festival as each has its own unique focus. But the one I probably look forward to most is the Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival. It’s that perfect time in the South Carolina Lowcountry when the weather is not too hot, not too cold, not too buggy. Artists from all over the region come to display their work and thousands of people come to see it and to sample the delicacies from our rivers, marshes and sea.

Lobster mac & cheese, fish tacos, seafood sampler, Ahi tuna, shrimp and chips.
Lobster mac & cheese, fish tacos, seafood sampler, Ahi tuna, shrimp and chips.

And of course, Lowcountry Foodie Mama likes to eat. And I often have a hard time pacing myself. I’m like a kid in a candy store. Or a shrimp store in my case. There’s all manner of shrimp, gumbo, oysters, crab cakes, lobster rolls and LOTS of non-traditional seafood preparations. It is truly a foodie’s mecca.

Our high top bistro table started with just the two of us eating. Eventually four other strangers gathered around to join us and compare food notes.
Our high top bistro table started with just the two of us eating. Eventually four other strangers gathered around to join us and compare food notes. The kettle corn, dumplings and lemondade are staples at just about every Bluffton festival.

I also love to peruse the fabulous art on display and occasionally bring home something I had no idea that I needed. There are other festivals with much kitschier crafty stuff, but this festival features some serious artists participating in a juried show. Last weekend was the finale of this year’s Art & Seafood Festival and, as always, we had the very best time! And, no, I didn’t actually eat ALL of the food I took pictures of. We were lucky to be joined by several friendly strangers when we stopped at a table to eat. They were all too happy to talk about the food they were eating and invited me to take photos! I promise!

Some of the art and artists at this year's festival. Jacob Preston is one of Bluffton's finest (and tallest) potters and Amiri Gueka Farris is one of the shining stars of Bluffton's art scene.
Some of the art and artists at this year’s festival. Jacob Preston (top right) is one of Bluffton’s finest (and tallest) potters and Amiri Gueka Farris  (center right) is one of the shining stars of Bluffton’s art scene.

Below are just a FEW of the many festivals that Bluffton has to entice you here.

http://www.tasteofbluffton.com/

http://www.blufftonvillagefestival.com/

http://www.blufftonartsandseafoodfestival.com/

http://blufftonbeerfest.com/

http://www.townofbluffton.sc.gov/Pages/christmasparade.aspx

http://www.blufftonsunsetparty.com/

https://www.facebook.com/blufftonboiledpeanutfestival

If you are heading to Hilton Head, Savannah or Charleston, check out what’s happening in Bluffton. You may find that it’s worth a day (or two) trip to check it out.

Such a beautiful funky town. And if you are lucky, you might have a cannon in your back yard (center right).
Such a beautiful funky town. Only the lucky few have cannons in their back yard (center right).
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