Spring is finally here—finally! After a long, cold winter most people are ready to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Lucky for foodies, there are a lot of events this spring that allow you to do just that all while eating and drinking. Below are our top choices for the season:
Eat Local Month: Eating local, knowing more about where your food comes from and supporting local farmers and chefs—these are all important causes and Charleston based non-profit organization Lowcountry Local First (LLF) wants to get the community more involved in this “eat local” movement. The month of April is designated as Eat Local Month and LLF has organized a series of ways for people to do just that. First, people can participate in the Eat Local Challenge where they are asked to shift $10 (or more) of their weekly budget to local foods. They can also go to the opening day of the Charleston Farmer’s Market on April 12, visit the LLF booth and enjoy small bites by local chefs and farmers at their Plow to Chow event. The Lowcountry Farm Tours is a great way to visit the area farms and learn more about what is grown locally. Last but not least, the grand finale is the popular Chef’s Potluck on April 27. In its seventh year, the event pairs local chefs with farmers and together they create two dishes inspired by what’s fresh and available. All of the funds raised during Eat Local Month support LLF’s work in sustainable agriculture—which includes the Growing New Farmer’s apprentice program and the Dirt Works Incubator Farm.
World Grits Festival: Road trip anyone? To bath in a large tub of grits? Count us in! This event in its 29th year, is a “world” event because the town of St. George discovered years ago that they eat the largest volume of grits per capita than any other place in the world. That tidbit was found out by past Piggly Wiggly owners after they noticed the amount of the white grain being shipped to the area. Those owners assembled a group of community members to celebrate the fact and came together to form the World Grits Festival, an event that attracts upwards of 45,000 attendees. The weekend features three days of “grits” related efforts including a grits recipe contest, grits cooking demonstrations, a grits eating contest and the highlight a “rolling in the grits content”. Best of all, the event is free and open to attend!
Food Film Festival: Returning to Charleston for a second year, the Food Film Festival is set for April 24-26. Born originally in Brooklyn, the event is the brainchild of Festival Director and Travel Channel Host George Motz who has since grown the event to two other cities—Chicago and Charleston. The focus of the event is to share food focused documentaries, features and short films to an audience and then pair it with food and drink made by local and national culinary talent. Those involved in the event prepare a menu inspired by the films of the evening. For Charleston, the themes include The Kings of Barbecue (taking place at the USS Yorktown), Food Porn and the Edible Adventures (both at High Wire Distilling Co.). Best of all, the event benefits local non-profit food hub Grow Food Carolina.
Gibbes Taking it to the Street: 135 Meeting Street will once again be closed in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art to host the popular Gibbes Taking it to the Street fundraiser on May 1. This year, the space will transformed into a multi-cultural bazaar and over twenty restaurants will be featured in stations serving food inspired by the theme. And not just any restaurants, the best of the best in the city, all curated and organized by Mickey Bakst, manager of Charleston Grill. All of the proceeds benefit the Gibbes and their mission to preserve and promote the art of Charleston and the American South.
First Flush Fes”tea”val: At first glance, the name of this event might be a turn off, but learning more, you realize that it’s the perfect way to describe the celebration. Taking place at America’s only tea garden—the Charleston Tea Plantation—the event takes place in honor of the growth of the new leaves on the tea plants in the spring after winter has passed. The first flush of new growth is harvested to provide the tea of the plantation—a perfect excuse for a First Flush festival. The event set for May 24 is a daylong party with food trucks, a kids area and a line-up of talented music including this year’s headliners—The Avett Brothers. Located in Wadmalaw Island, it is worth the drive.
Water Ball: Chefs more so than most care deeply about protecting the local waterways. They want to ensure they have fresh, local seafood to serve to their diners throughout the year. So when the Charleston Waterkeeper asks for their support in their cause, the local restaurants jump to the chance. The annual Water Ball takes place on May 22 at the South Carolina Aquarium, providing the perfect backdrop for the evening’s theme and features a variety of chefs who prepare and showcase dishes inspired by the oceans, harbor, rivers, streams and wetlands that define the city. The event raises money for the organization’s mission of focusing on water quality issues of the local waterways.