The buzz about Hilton Head’s Seafood Festival - and it wasn’t just the great grub

"The annual Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival not only increased its attendance by 71 percent compared to last year’s event but also pulled more people to the island than on any other day in February in the past five years, festival officials said.

“We have created a buzz over the last few years,” Carmines said. “I talked to several couples and families that planned their trip because of the Seafood Festival, and that is exactly what we are trying to accomplish.”

The S.C. Department of Transportation vehicle counter tracked 32,706 vehicles on the island Friday night before the main event Saturday — about 500 more cars than the next highest traffic day.

Warren Woodard, director of sales and marketing for Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, said the hotel was booked for the weekend. “We were a sponsor for the event and housed celebrity chefs for the week, but the festival itself also was a great draw,” he said. It is not typical for the hotel to be completely booked in February, Woodard said. “We get close on holiday weekends, such as Presidents Day, but not fully,” he said. 

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Erin Carmines