May 2016

Bluffton Village Festival

Author: Emily Campbell

It has been 38 years since Babbie Guscio first dreamed up the idea of an artisan’s fair, showcasing the creativity and talents of the local artists in the sleepy little town of Bluffton, South Carolina. Fast forward to 2016, this “dream” is not only a reality, it is a successful annual event with approximately 10,000 visitors, over 200 vendors and enough Southern charm to impress most anyone.
The town of Bluffton has grown by leaps and bounds since that first festival so many years ago, but the Bluffton Village Festival has maintained the quintessential allure that truly makes it “a celebration of Bluffton life.”

The 38th annual Bluffton Village Festival, often referred to as Mayfest, will be held Mother’s Day weekend, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 in Old Town Bluffton. You don’t want to miss this day of fun, food and festivities that is a highlight of the Lowcountry spring calendar.

As the festival has grown over the years, it has expanded its attention from mostly local vendors to vendors from across the Southeast. The “best of the best” of our region’s artists come together to display their beautiful works of art, from oil paintings to jewelry to woodworking and everything in between. This year’s festival will feature over 30 new vendors with unique offerings such as handcrafted paddle boards and original hula hoops.

Some of the “crafts” are creations of the edible kind, with over a dozen food vendors offering delectable Lowcountry cuisine. Whether you want something sweet, salty or savory—or one of each—you are sure to find something that suits your taste buds among the myriad of scrumptious creations.

When you are ready to take a break from all the shopping and eating, be sure to catch the 28th Annual Ugly Dog Contest, sponsored by May River Realty. It’s one of the most unique aspects and traditions of the festival. With faces “only a mother could love,” the canine contestants compete to win the much sought-after title of the “Ugliest Dog.” Choose your favorite and cheer him on as he strives for the crown.

The competition continues with the commencing of the fourth Annual Pie Eating Contest—always a crowd favorite! Who doesn’t enjoy seeing friends and neighbors make a mess stuffing their faces with pie? Sponsored by The Sugaree, Hilton Head Honda and Modern Classic Motors, this contest promises true entertainment in this winner-eats-all competition.

Throughout the day, you will want to turn your attention to the main stage, featuring local bands and gifted dancers in a variety of performances that promise to keep the crowd on its feet.

In 2009, the festival’s founder, Guscio, passed the baton to the Rotary Club of Bluffton to handle the planning and overseeing of this community event.

“The Bluffton Village Festival is a favorite for all Rotary members,” said Rotarian David Hussey, chairman of this year’s festival. “It’s fun and rewarding to see the months of planning and man-hours pay off with an enjoyable event for locals and visitors alike.”

One of the local artists who will be showcasing her talent at this year’s festival is Lowcountry native Ashley Hahn. If you are looking for a painting that embodies the beauty of Lowcountry life, then you will want to check out her stunning works of art. Growing up on Hilton Head Island, this self-trained artist said she recalls always being interested in art as a pastime. But it wasn’t until college that she discovered art could be more than just a hobby. While at Clemson, Hahn spent countless hours in both the architecture studio as well as art classes. Focusing on technical drawings taught Hahn to be very detailed and precise, honing skills that would later prove beneficial in her portrait drawing. After receiving her bachelors of science degree in design, she worked several years at a Bluffton architectural firm before eventually launching her own architectural rendering business. But after the birth of her second child, Hahn made the decision to focus on her art.

With an ever-evolving technique, Hahn produces a complicated and detailed scene in her pieces that reveals a keen understanding of depth and realism. Picturesque Lowcountry settings are at the center of the majority of her work.

“The Bluffton Village Festival has become a wonderful event for our area,” Hahn said. “Not only does it bring out the entire community, but it is also a prime example of how people in this area support each other. I love to be a part of such a positive, fun celebration for Bluffton and my fellow artists.”
Admission to the festival is free. 

For more information or to volunteer, call (843) 815-2277, visit, follow on Facebook or e-mail

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