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Edisto Land Trust Shucks Oysters – Protects Hutchinson House

The first Sunday in November brought warm and sunny weather conditions to the annual Edisto Island Open Land Trust oyster roast. The recently revealed Hutchinson House Heritage Project was in focus with a special fundraising appeal, and with descendants of the Hutchinson family in attendance. The sold out event kicked off at 2 p.m. at Sand Creek Farm, and the capacity crowd of conservationists enjoyed food and live music alongside the salt marsh.

            The membership roster at the Edisto Island Open Land Trust (EIOLT) is growing, and the record turnout on Sunday showed it. “The demand for tickets for the annual oyster roast is robust,” said Executive Director John Girault. “We sold out of tickets ahead of the event, and the office phones never stopped ringing with people interested in attending. All of which comes at a good time since we are trying to raise $50,000 dollars by December 10, a date which would enable EIOLT to receive a matching gift towards the Hutchinson House.”

            The Hutchinson House sits on 9-acres of land on Edisto Island, and it has been sitting idle for years. The Phase One plan of the project includes stabilization of the house and protection of the existing structure via a covered shelter. The house restoration plans will be on a long-term timeframe, but the purchase of the acreage and the initial push for funds is being met with generous support from the Edisto community and beyond. The oyster roast featured a raffle of two Jet Blue airline tickets that was seamlessly tied in with how attendees could make a donation on site to EIOLT staffers.

            The band called Edisto Gumbo provided musical entertainment and caterer Jamie Westendorff of Charleston served up oysters along with barbecue, chicken, and sausage. Shade trees on the property provided respite from the unseasonal heat. The title sponsor for the 2017 oyster roast is The Huffines Company of Walterboro. Founder Calvert Huffines spoke at the event and highlighted that around 50-percent of Edisto Island has already been protected already. It was clear from the size of the crowd and their enthusiasm that they are ready to do more conservation work in the future.

            Most attendees at this event are residents of Edisto Island, but many come from Walterboro and Charleston to support this organization. Once on site, folks split up and rotate through the oyster tables when shucking spots open up. A large seating area accommodates those eating food from the caterer, and most folks bring a lawn chair to set up and listen to the band. This Edisto crowd is used to bringing their chairs out to events at Big Bay Park when attending their summer concert series. A large cadre of volunteers help at the oyster roast including shuttle rides from the parking lot, checking guests in and answering any questions.

            The 2016 oyster roast had a Halloween theme, and the 2017 theme invited guests to wear gear from their favorite football team. Plenty of Clemson and Gamecock attire could be seen, with colors from the Carolina Panthers mixed in. Those who purchased raffle tickets scored gifts from local businesses, including a canoe, which is sure to encourage the winner to get outdoors and paddle around the tidal creeks that course through Edisto Island. The land trust is good about giving back to the community in a similar fashion, by hosting junior naturalist events to inspire young people to enjoy the outdoors. Multiple generations of families attending the oyster roast offer the proof that the Lowcountry lifestyle is still being cherished today on Edisto.

 

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (300 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com