September 2015

Burgers & Brew State of Mind: 5th annual event launches festival season

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: Whitney Boring

Anticipation is making me late is keeping me waiting
—Carly Simon

Who remembers these lyrics? Not from the top-20 version sung by Simon, but from the 1970s television commercial, when these eight words, a slow-pouring bottle of ketchup, and a full-screen shot of a thick and juicy burger illustrated the quintessential grilled meat-condiment experience. Whether the tune is repeating in your head right now (you’re welcome), or maybe you weren’t even born yet, there is a good chance you are now in a burger-on-the-barbecue state of mind—just where the Island Recreation Association wants you—hungry and ready for their 5th Annual Burgers & Brew Festival.

This year’s festival on Saturday, October 3, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be held in the Shelter Cove Community Park. “The first festival in the new park,” said Joe Cain, special events director for the Island Recreation Association. Anticipating at least 2,500 burger and brew enthusiasts, the organization is excited to bring the grills and taps to one of Hilton Head Island’s newest and beautifully-designed venues, overlooking Broad Creek, where the marsh and water views provide a splendid backdrop for all the competition and fun.

“I will be wearing a cheeseburger on my head,” said Cain, the fundraiser’s host, who knows how to get the party started and is easily spotted at the association’s many community events. “It’s actually fairly comfortable compared to the chicken wing hat I wear for Wingfest.” With proceeds from the event benefitting their many programs, Burgers & Brew is a great start to the area’s festival season.

With at least 10 local restaurants lining up their sliders, looking to topple Charbar, the defending champion for the People’s Choice award, the competition is nothing short of serious, and the culinary-inclined will we be nothing short of delighted. Whether at their island restaurant, or in the heat of competition, Charbar owner Nick Bergelt says, “Our goal is to create an unparalleled burger unlike any other Hilton Head has ever seen.

We truly try to deliver a gourmet product without the gourmet price tag that everyone can enjoy.” Their special beef blend is the foundation of all they bring to the table. “You’re not just eating a hamburger; you’re eating three steaks in between the bun (baked fresh every morning, by the way), that we grind multiple times a day,” Bergelt said.

Local breweries and Budweiser-distributed brands will be offering over 20 beers for tasting in the beer garden, according to Cain. Part of the fun is finding just the right slider-brew pairings, with the festival providing a great opportunity to cozy up with some of the best area chefs and brewers to ask for recommendations.

In addition to the between-the-bun creations and liquid libations, there will be live entertainment in the park’s performance pavilion, including Ellen Drive, playing from noon to 2:15 p.m., and Groove Town Assault playing from 2:45 to 5 p.m. There will also be a Kids’ Zone, bungee jump, rock wall, and big screen televisions to keep up with college game-day football.

For Burgers & Brew Festival title sponsor, CH2/CB2 magazine, their collaboration was a natural fit. “We are big supporters of the Island Rec Center and its mission; it’s really the one charitable organization that we raise money for every year,” said the magazine’s editor-in-chief Maggie Washo. “Joe Cain and his team put on entertaining family-friendly events, and we are happy to support them. As to why this event specifically, I’ve personally never met a brew or a burger I didn’t like. I’m looking forward to seeing all of the locals come out for the beautiful October weather and the start of ‘fall festival season.’”

The tasting has already begun in earnest as local chefs are cooking and concocting to find unique and delicious offerings for this year’s event. The top contenders could be a burger with maple syrup in a crispy waffle bun; duck burgers with corn salsa and adobo sauce; beef with fried green tomato and homemade pimento cheese; or pork and chorizo ground and paired with grilled poblano peppers and creamy cilantro pesto sauce… The possibilities are palette bending. This year’s winner just may be a traditional beef burger, or a chicken slider, or classic barbecue piggy, or local seafood on a bun. The competition is limited only by the size of the bun and culinary imagination. The anticipation is so very tantalizing. 

Admission to Burgers & Brew is $6; children 10 and under admitted free. All concessions and activities are sold separately. Shelter Cove Community Park is located directly behind Shelter Cove Towne Centre on Hilton Head Island. For more information, please visit

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