Beaufort Shrimp Festival Offers New Format, Same Tasty Seafood

Beaufort Shrimp Festival kicks off September 18th

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WTOC) - With a quarter of a century under its belt, and a town over 300 years old to call home, the Beaufort Shrimp Festival has some pretty strong tries to tradition.

“It’s a really important event for hospitality sector businesses and for the community to get it out," Ian Scott, President and CEO of Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. "Everybody loves coming down to Waterfront Park for Shrimp Festival in Beaufort, and for restaurants and hotels, it’s a really big weekend.”

Because of the pandemic however, organizers felt they had no choice but to change their plans.

“We really thought it wasn’t prudent to hold the festival in its normal format," Scott said. "Just not safe nor legal to get 5,000 people shoulder to shoulder eating shrimp in the park.”

So they shook things up. This year, the festival is being expanded to three weeks. Local restaurants will provide their own shrimp tasting menus.

“I actually think it’s a better opportunity for folks to go sample more local dishes. There’s only so much shrimp you can eat in one weekend. With three weekends and 16, now possibly 18, participating restaurants and venues, that’s a lot more shrimp dishes for people to go sample and savor. We actually think people are going to love that part about it," Scott said. "Several of the restaurants will have their own kind of events and things, safely and socially distanced, but we should have a lot of atmosphere and life.”

Even with all the changes to tradition and format, organizers are confident that the most important piece of the festival remains intact.

“If you were focused on maybe doing the event the way it’s always been done, that’s kind of difficult this year. But let’s go back to the real reason we’re doing this. We’re celebrating our signature, local, fresh catch. We got I think just terrific buy-in from the local restaurants," Scott said. "I think they’re going to do a terrific job. Chefs are excited about showing off their local creations, and I don’t know if you’ve looked at some of the menus, they’re pretty good.”

The Beaufort Shrimp Festival lasts from September 18 through October 4. You won’t have to pay for a general admission. Individual restaurants and venues will set their own prices.

Participating Restaurants

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