September 2011

Follow the 'Lead Dog' To South Beach for Fall Festivals & Events

Author: David Gignilliat | Photographer: Mark Yarbrough

The fall and winter is the time for new beginnings at Hilton Head Island’s South Beach Marina.

Just as the tide flows in and out on Hilton Head’s 14 miles of beaches, there is a seasonal ebb and flow to the bustle of activity on the island. With The Heritage in the rearview and summer tourists back where they began their tours, the island takes on a different vibe too. During the fall and winter, it’s more of a locals town. Quieter, yes, but alive with a vigor all its own.

For the last several years, Mark Yarbrough has been an integral part of the Salty Dog team that plans, organizes and hosts a diverse slate of weekend festivals and events at the South Beach Marina in Sea Pines to keep the fun vibe going on through the fall and winter.

“In my opinion, the fall is the absolute best time of the year here on the island. It’s cooling down, but the water is still warm,” said Yarbrough, VP of marketing with The Salty Dog. “It’s just more relaxed down here.”

Any event experience at the South Beach Marina starts with the view, one of the best on the island. The timeless nautical setting, modeled after a New England-style fishing village, is rich in charm and atmosphere. On any given day, you’re likely to see dozens of sailboats wet-docked in their slips. You may even see a few jet skiers, kayakers or parasailers enjoy the still waters of the Calibogue Sound, the closest marina on Hilton Head to the Atlantic Ocean. Tour boats such as The Gypsy, The Drifter or The Boomerang also claim South Beach as a home base and offer a variety of charters, dolphin watching, sport fishing and kid’s cruises. The nearby Marina Village includes several shops (jewelry, clothing, souvenirs, bait-and-tackle) and restaurants—truly something for the whole family.

“This time of year, I think people are looking for stuff to do. They’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house. And they want it to be something different, something they can take the kids to and the family, and just have a good time,” Yarbrough said. “And that’s essentially what we’re trying to do here. We want to try to have a little something for everybody.”

One of the staples of every South Beach event is the friendly presence of a black retriever named Jake, the Salty Dog’s beloved mascot. Legend has it that Jake, during a terrible storm, once swam for three days and nights straight after his owner’s boat The Salty Dog turned over. A Hilton Head legend, Jake’s visage and distinctive sou’wester hat grace nearly every souvenir to be had at The Salty Dog shops. During the events, children can meet Jake face to face, paw to paw, and have their pictures taken together. In addition to appearances by Jake, there will also be kid-friendly entertainment at each event, including face painting, clowns, magicians and other activities.

Food—especially seafood—plays a prominent role in many of the events, as festivities kick off in September with a crab boil (Sept. 10) and a blues crab boil (Sept. 17), followed by a craft beer and barbeque festival later in the month (Sept. 24). The 15th annual Oyster Roast ushers in October on the first, as over 2,500 pounds of oysters are roasted in a wood pit over an open flame. During the Oyster Roast, free Salty Dog T-shirts will be awarded to the first 10 oyster customers, and there will be special prices on cookout favorites. Restaurants and merchants convene later in the months (Oct. 15) for the 12th annual Fall Festival, with shopping and food samples from some of the area’s finest eateries.

“If people come down here in the fall and they have a good time and they see that the major crowds are gone, they’re reminded of how much fun they can have at the South Beach Marina,” Yarbrough said. “This is a good reminder for everybody that The Salty Dog’s down here. It’s not just T-shirts. It’s a whole lot more.”

All events include kids’ fun & games and visits by Jake, The Salty Dog.

Sept 10: Annual Crab Boil
A variety of crab leg selections, burgers & more. 4-8 p.m., with outside live music

Sept 17: Annual Blues Crab Boil
Live blue crab and local blues music from 4-8 p.m. outside on the deck

Sept 24: Craft Beer & BBQ Festival
Craft beer selections from around the world paired with Lowcountry BBQ and cookout favorites, plus live music, 4-8 p.m.

Oct 1-Dec 15: Shrimpfest
Celebrate the shrimp harvest with our 10 favorite shrimp recipes, each at a great price. Try Russian, Greek, Tequila, fried shrimp and more. 4 p.m.-Close.

Oct 1: 15th Annual Oyster Roast
Twenty-five hundred pounds of oysters, roasted over an open flame. Starting at 4 p.m. ’til they’re gone, plus live music. FREE Salty Dog T-Shirts to the first 10 oyster customers, and special prices on cookout favorites.

Oct 15: 12th Annual Fall Festival
Sample restaurant food & sidewalk shopping. Carnival games, prizes, live music, Noon-4 p.m.

Oct 22: Shrimp Festival & Lowcountry Boil
Celebrate the shrimp harvest with live music and a Lowcountry Boil with fresh, local shrimp! 4-8 p.m.

Oct 29: Haunted BBQ & Costume Contest!
Kids’ costume contest at 7 p.m. Prizes, candy, burgers and hotdogs, 4-9 p.m. Come see our haunted village.

Nov 12: Pig Pickin’ & Lowcountry Boil
Roasting a whole pig. It’s Lowcountry cooking done right, plus live music, 4-8 p.m.

November 25 – December 31- South Beach Christmas Village
Hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, falling snow & Santa visits for pictures each week ’til Christmas with treats for the whole family. Call (843) 363-2198 for information.

For a complete listing of the lineup of fall events at The South Beach Marina Village, please visit the “Events” tab at

Let Us Know what You Think ...

commenting closed for this article