Stuffed Animals 

And the mother of all shucking festivals

On Friday night, we made our way to the Wunderkammer opening at Redux Contemporary Art Center. Artist Kimberly Witham photographs dead animals next to beautiful vases, plates, and flowers, creating an interesting paradox of beauty. The collection also featured some taxidermied animals — two to be exact — and even though we knew there’d be these stuffed critters, we were surprised to find a squirrel peeking out of a vase front and center.

After the shock of the stuffed squirrel, we found our way to the bar. Sipping on Holy City Brewing’s Pluff Mud Porter, we started making the rounds. We tried to catch a moment with Witham, but every time we started to approach the artist a new crowd had encircled her.

We also spoke to some of the other partygoers and were relieved we weren’t the only ones who’d found a way to turn the exhibit into a game out of the art. It was like photo hunt, high-brow style — even though not every image had a dead animal in it, we tried to find one. Although it was usually just a small bug in the pictures with flowers. The end of the reception loomed, and we still hadn’t found a moment with the artist. We made one last loop, but she was nowhere in sight. It was as if she vanished, so we took her cue and headed home as well.

Saturday, we braved the chill and went to Folly Beach’s Taste of Folly. It had been a while since we had been to a Folly street party, and we were surprised how few people were there. Normally the streets are crowded, parking is horrendous, and the people watching is golden. Not so on Saturday. We found parking in no time and easily meandered down Center Street. There were less vendors hawking their arts and crafts than normal, but the food stands were a’plenty. We grabbed a Bloody Mary and started toward the pier.

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Thanks to the lackluster attendance, we made it to the end of the street in no time flat — which turned out to be a blessing since the Server Olympics were taking place. We didn’t have to fight with a crowd to get a front row spot. Competing waiters were given three empty glasses and a tray and then had to maneuver through a course of tires and a limbo bar. It started out easy with empty glasses, and the first waiter high-stepped his way through the tires and under the limbo bar quick as could be. He then filled the glasses with water and started on his return trip. Things were looking great until he reached the tires and completely ate it. Water sloshed all over him as he fell face first. He recovered quickly and made his way to the end of the race — where he had to chug a beer. Hopefully that warmed him up, since the icy beach breeze wasn’t helping him.

We watched a few more of the contestants make their way through the course. Thankfully no one else fell, but we did see one waiter stick his whole arm in the water pitcher to fill his glasses. We’re hoping his lack of hygiene was just based on his competitive spirit.

Needing a change of scene, we ventured back down Center Street where Jordan Igoe had taken the stage. If the wind hadn’t been so chilly, we would have stayed for a lot longer, but after hearing a song or two, we decided to ditch the al fresco party and find an indoor bar.

On Sunday, we braved the traffic and crossed the bridge over to Mt. P for the Lowcountry Oyster Festival at Boone Hall. We decided it was better to get an early start then wait in the notoriously bad traffic, but even with a 10:30 a.m. departure time, we still waited a while to park. Walking into the fest, it seems like little had changed from previous years. There were beer, oysters, and people walking around the field. The ticket lines weren’t long, and neither were the oyster lines. The beer line — well, that’s another story. We waited in line and started people watching. It was then we saw the Pluff Mud Princess in all her glory. Dressed in a wedding gown, she was hanging around a crowd of admirers, one who even fake proposed — or at least we hope it was fake. Her white dress somehow had managed to stay pristine when we were muddied and messy. How did she do it? We’re guessing she has magical princess powers that repel dirt.

With beer in hand, we wandered toward the stage to see the what was going on since we couldn’t really hear anything. Once we got closer, we saw it was an oyster shucking contest, but the crowd wasn’t interested in it, and, if we’re being honest, neither were we. We left the stage to finally get our bucket of oysters and started shucking. We heard some people complaining about the large amount of sand they found in their bushels, but, luckily, ours were sand free. After we finished off the oysters, we left trying to beat the traffic once again. Thankfully, we did.

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