Events are like the punctuation marks of the lives we live here on Callawassie Island. They highlight and signal important moments and directions. Yet it’s the substance in between that truly carries the main attractions: warmth, balance, and connection. You might say that’s what all the events have in common.
Those feelings are so widespread that it’s a little difficult to define just what an event consists of here, where a neighbor might show up with barbecue just because you moved in recently, or flowers from a friend could appear on your doorstep because your wedding anniversary rolled around again. There are moments within the moments on Callawassie Island that compose the texture of what we love about living here.
Still, when we think about Events, with a capital E, at least three kinds come to mind. There are the events we host here for the Callawassie Island community itself, or for the many clubs and interest groups that took root here. There are events in the surrounding communities, which Callawassie Islanders enjoy, and where they often take leading roles. And also, there is the talent and capacity that Callawassie Island offers occasionally to the outside world, for holding landmark events like weddings, and special celebrations.
The range of events we host for our own community is wide, to say the least. On the large-ish side is the charity fundraiser golf tournament we hold ourselves annually. November marks our 18th annual Friends of Callawassie Island Golf Tournament. The FOCI tournament raises funds for worthy community causes in the neighboring towns around our treasured Island. Last year about $40,000 was raised and distributed through grant applications to 24 charities. On November 3, more than 125 golfers and corporate sponsors will take part. The tournament contributes about half the annual sum that FOCI awards each year to grant-qualifying charities in our area.
Near the other end of the size spectrum, the events hosted here by the Callawassie Island Garden Club enrich the experience of living here in an altogether different way. The Garden Club is praised for the imagination and expertise that, collectively, is shared there, playing a welcoming role among residents who like to get their own hands on the natural beauty that abounds on Callawassie Island. Some gardeners come here ready-made and some find their joy in gardening after seeing the bounty and variety that grows here naturally. Even experienced gardeners arrive on Callawassie Island and find the array of plant life in our coastal, subtropical environment an entirely new chapter for their interests. Flowers are only the beginning. The long Lowcountry tradition of herbs as a part of life comes to light uniquely within the Garden Club, and a fuller knowledge of the trees on our island leads to an even greater appreciation.
Some of our events are for the community as a whole, rather than a club or sponsoring organization. A fun example is the Oktoberfest we’ll celebrate this week, complete with a four-piece polka band called the Rhinelanders. Experienced musicians who double in big-band engagements, there are few, if any, who can stay seated when the Rhinelanders don their lederhosen and play.
Guest speakers represent still another example of community events available to Callawassie Island residents. In November, speakers from the Pat Conroy foundation in nearby, historic Beaufort will come to the Club to reflect on his work his career, his contribution, and the quiet pride that comes from being our area’s being the home Pat Conroy chose to make for himself, as the author shared his art with the world. The son of a Marine Corps officer, Conroy reached his teen years with many moves and many towns behind him already. Complaining to his mother about still another move, when Conroy’s father was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, she said to him, “Well Pat, why don’t you just make this your home.” He did, and we will be forever proud and grateful.
The occasions for venturing forth from Callawassie Island range from weekly farmers markets in Beaufort, Bluffton, and on Hilton Head Island, to the opening nights of Broadway plays produced at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, to evenings with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra. Our area certainly is rich in natural beauty, yet it also holds more than its fair share of cultural interests as well.
One nearby celebration in particular, the annual Beaufort Water Festival, is unique in its scope and appeal. For more than 60 years, the beautiful Beaufort waterfront has framed the setting for a real expression of joy. Our gratitude for the life of the tides, the birds, the palms and palmettos, the seafood, the crafts and the cultures that come to life here so richly is expressed at the Water Festival. With an atmosphere that is at times like an art and craft show, a sporting event, a concert, a dance, a midsummer Mardi Gras, the Beaufort Water Festival takes ten days in July and makes them unforgettable.
But we don’t wait for summer to celebrate sea island life here. The Beaufort Shrimp Festival takes place October 5th and 6th, followed soon after by the Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival, October 13th through 21st.
And the Talent We Grew Right Here
With so much to celebrate, in so many ways, it was natural that Callawassie Island acquired an ability to organize and host events that is now sought after, on occasion, by non-residents as well. Weddings are an especially beautiful example, and Callawassie Island has taken its place among the most sought-after wedding destinations in the region.
The incomparable setting and beauty of Callawassie Island play a leading role in this success, certainly, and the scope and professionalism of our team are mentioned immediately alongside that.
“What sets us apart is the whole array of what we can do,” Events Director Maggie Dennison said. The comprehensive nature of the talents and capacity that people find here is unlike what’s offered by other venues and destinations. “We do recommend that brides engage a wedding planner or coordinator,” Maggie said. “But we pick up wherever that person’s offerings leave off. We offer every detail, from linens to seating, from shelter to tableware, so our relationship with the planner is like a dance. We can follow any lead.”
Bride’s reviews on sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire include comments like these: “It was perfect in every way . . . rave reviews from our guests on the venue, setting, and the FOOD! . . . We hired Maggie to be our “day-of coordinator” and she was FABULOUS! So helpful and always had answers to any questions I asked.”
We count it a blessing be entrusted with these memories-for-life. And these abilities have earned the trust also of outside organizations, such as the Beaufort County School District. The School District holds its summer scholarship and Teacher-of-the-Year presentations here, and stages their annual summer golf tournament, “Swingin’ With the Superintendent,” with us at the Callawassie Island Club.
Yes, events might be just the punctuation marks of life on Callawassie Island, but they certainly play their role with style and polish, as well as warmth.