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Pursuits: Local fish and game give heritage festival its flavor

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Cattails and Cocktails, the kickoff event for the annual Winyah Bay Heritage Festival, is getting back to its roots this year.

It will move from evening to afternoon to accommodate a switch to a more casual event that’s more focused on the outdoors, which is what the festival is all about. It is set for Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Hobcaw Barony’s Kimbel Lodge.

“It takes us back to the very early festival and the first year where we did an oyster roast at Hobcaw,” said Jill Santopietro, director of the Georgetown County Museum, which is the recipient of funds raised by the festival.

The oyster roast was a forerunner for Cattails and Cocktails, which was introduced in 2009. It changed from year to year while organizers tried on new ideas to see what worked best and what the public responded to.

In its inaugural year, it was a barbecue with a “real community-oriented approach,” Santopietro said. It was modified to a more upscale event the following year.

“We found that everybody, including the people who organized it, enjoyed that sense of community that came from the event in 2009,” Santopietro said.

So Cattails and Cocktails will again become a laid-back community cookout, but with the focus this time on local game and fish to better incorporate the heart of the festival – a tribute to hunting, fishing and the outdoor heritage of Georgetown County and the Winyah Bay.

The food will be the main attraction, said Wallis Houseman, an event organizer and Georgetown County Historical Society board member.

“We’ve gotten these celebrity chefs. They’re not professionals, but they’re great cooks from the community and they like to cook things from the bounty of the land and sea and rivers,” she said. “They’re going to come and cook these wonderful, different dishes with things they’ve caught or captured in the county and people will be able to go around and sample all this stuff.”

The menu includes barbecue from Pete Peterson and Hank Tiller, duck pileau prepared by Bobby Barrineau, Jim Binder’s fish stew, duck gumbo by Craig Evans and Martha Reynolds, venison bites cooked by Jimmy Hill and venison chili prepared by Chip Lachicotte and Jim Clark.

Ashley Carter and Carlos Long will roast oysters from Independent Seafood, and a few last-minute additions, such as shrimp creole, are also expected.

Like the food, door prizes and a silent auction will also reflect the bounty of Georgetown County’s wild places. Attendees can bid on an oyster table hand hewn by Steve Ishmael, an oyster roast for 16 at Windsor Plantation, a shooting session at Back Woods Quail Club, a pontoon boat cocktail cruise for four, a fishing trip for two, a lunch trip to North Island and a weekend in a cabin on the Black River, among other items.

“We’ve got some really wonderful things that focus on experiences this year,” Santopietro said.

Tickets for Cattails and Cocktails are limited and advance purchase is recommended. Cost is $30 ($25 for members of the historical society). Buy tickets at the museum in Georgetown or call 545-7020.

It’s also not too early to get tickets to the festival, which are also available by calling the museum.

The festival, in its fifth year, will be March 2 through 4, having been moved from its regular time in January in hope of finding warmer weather.

A dock diving competition for dogs will return as the festival’s top-billed event.

“It was a wonderful anchor for us last year and we’re excited about having the dock dogs back,” Santopietro said.

A complete schedule of events is online at winyahbayfestival.org.

In addition to the date change, the festival will stick to one location this year. Since the Winyah Gym is no longer available, everything will be set up at East Bay Park. However, the museum will still be open during the festival and a shuttle is planned to take festival-goers between the park and Georgetown’s historic district.

“I think it’s going to work out well,” Santopietro said. “Hopefully this will help people find us more easily. It was hard for visitors to figure out where they were going when there were three or four locations throughout the city for them to go between.”

And, of course, organizers are hoping for good weather.

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