May 2017

Mayfest 2017

Author: Emily Campbell

Close your eyes and picture a beautiful day in the Lowcountry: The sun is shining; there is a slight breeze off the river; you can smell the sweet aroma of freshly baked pies and kettle corn; the trees and flowers along Calhoun Street in Old Town Bluffton are in full bloom—all creating the perfect backdrop for a festival. But this isn’t just any festival; it’s the Thirty-Ninth Annual Mayfest.

Mayfest, also known as the Bluffton Village Festival, will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, May 13, along Calhoun Street in Old Town Bluffton. You don’t want to miss this eclectic, homespun festival that truly represents the “Bluffton State of Mind.” There’s something for everyone—from delicious food to lively entertainment, and unique arts and crafts to a pie eating contest and an ugly dog competition. Best of all, admission is free!

The festival began as the place to be each year in a sleepy little town known as Bluffton. Void of the wonderful restaurants, art galleries and cute shops present today, Babbie Guscio envisioned the festival as a place where local artisans could show off their wares to their neighbors and friends. Fast forward to 2009 when the Rotary Club of Bluffton took the reins and began coordinating the festival. Today, under their leadership and through the hard work of many volunteers, Mayfest welcomes close to 10,000 guests each year, with over 200 vendors from across the South.

Of course, a festival wouldn’t be complete without delectable food. Seafood lovers will enjoy shrimp salad sandwiches, lobster rolls and fried shrimp. Attendees searching for traditional festival food will find pizza, hot dogs, and funnel cakes. Homemade chocolate, ice cream and candied apples galore will satisfy the most ardent sweet tooth.

The entertainment is another highlight of the day. This year, local favorite Muddy Creek will be performing on the main platform as well as dancers from the Bluffton School of Dance and the Sun City Cloggers.

Eyes on the pies
When the large crowd gathers on the lawn of the Carson Cottages at 11:30 a.m., you will want to join in the Fifth Annual Pie Eating Contest. This “winner-eats-all” event has been one of the most popular aspects of the festival in recent years. The scrumptious pies that the contestants get to devour are prepared by a local bakery, The Sugaree, owned by Todd and Jo Rackcliff.

Over the years, participants in the pie-eating contest have ranged from the young to the young-at-heart, from burly men to beauty queens, and everyone in between. It never fails to bring laughter to those eating and those cheering them on.

New this year, for the little aspiring pie eaters, is a doughnut eating contest, to be added to the pie-eating competition. Children age 12 and under can compete. Only there’s a twist (because every kid can eat a doughnut super-fast, right?). The yummy doughnuts provided by the Sugaree will each be tied to a string that will be moving up and down as the kids attempt to gobble them down. The first to finish his or her doughnut wins!

County councilman and Bluffton Rotarian, Mike Covert, will return as emcee for the competition to entertain the crowd with his colorful commentary.

Dog-gone ugly
Another can’t-miss event of the day is the always entertaining Ugly Dog Contest, sponsored by May River Realty. One of the oldest of its kind in the nation, this competition brings out canines that are sure to make you smile. The competition is at 1 p.m. on the lawn at the Carson Cottages.

“Mayfest is always a highlight of the year for The Rotary Club of Bluffton,” said Rotarian John Kirkland, the festival’s 2017 chairman. “We enjoy bringing together friends, neighbors and visitors to celebrate this little slice of paradise that we get to call home.” 

For information or to volunteer call (843) 815-2277, visit or like Bluffton Village Festival on Facebook.

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