31ST Annual Bluffton Village Festival celebrates the arts, community, and, of course, ugly dogs!

Whether folks refer to it as May Fest or the Bluffton Village Festival, one thing upon which all attendees of this wonderful annual celebration can agree is that it offers ample and varied family-friendly fun for all – even ugly dogs!
     Bluffton icon Babbie Guscio, devoted organizer of the festival for the past 30 years, selected The Rotary Club of Bluffton this year to be the booming event’s new organizer. According to the rotary’s Karen Lavery, the organization was honored to be entrusted with the popular festival, which now attracts thousands, and believes it is a great fit for the rotary.
Following long-time tradition, the 2009 festival will take place on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, so those seeking to enjoy a rip-roaring “Bluffton State of Mind” time should plan to hit downtown Bluffton’s Calhoun Street on Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    “We are looking forward to a very successful community event,” stated festival committee co-chair Michael Reeves. “We are striving to keep the quality of unique and special items and the element of ‘handcrafted’ as a primary focus of this prestigious arts and crafts celebration in Old Town Bluffton.  And, one of the highlights will be the very popular Ugly Dog Contest, developed by Richard Coefield.  It’s the 21st year of this fun contest.  We hope to see all of Bluffton, Hilton Head and beyond at the festival.”
     In addition to fabulous food, including The Church of the Cross’s famous shrimp salad sandwiches, amazing arts and crafts, and world-class entertainment, the Ugly Dog Contest will kick off at 1 p.m. Spectators will laugh themselves to tears, while the winners enjoy trophies handcrafted by Jacob Preston, Bluffton’s “tallest potter.”
     In spite of challenging economic times, Lavery stated that, based on vendor applications she has already received, the rotary was surprised and thrilled to see that this year’s event has attracted at least 50 new vendors.
     History buffs and novices, alike, will relish the Civil War re-enactment, which will take place at the historic Heyward House. As a show of support for the ‘going green’ movement and to encourage non-motorized travel, the Bluffton Pathways organization will also offer valet bicycle parking at Heyward House all day. Those who prefer to drive, but are concerned about parking, can take advantage of free shuttle service from the Bluffton Village to the festival.
And don’t forget your dancing shoes because this year’s festival has expanded to feature a new music event entitled, “The Village Party After Hours.”
     Said Lavery, “So many people said they love to walk around the festival, see people they haven’t seen in awhile, and were disappointed that suddenly, at 3 p.m., everything just ended. So we decided to extend the festival to 8 p.m. with a music event at the Promenade.”
     Admission to the After Hours is $5 per person including live entertainment. Four bands, including Flashback, B-Town Playaz, The Earl Williams Band and Tommy Beaumont, are currently scheduled to perform and food and beverages will be sold.
     VIP tables, seating eight and available from 3 – 8 p.m., can be purchased for $300 and will include wine and food.
     Lavery added, “This is a great event, which exemplifies Bluffton – a great town and a great state of mind.”

For information regarding vendor opportunities, VIP tables and general information, please call (843) 815-2277 or (843) 384-1442, or visit the festival online, www.blufftonvillagefestival.com .

Bluffton Village Festival At a Glance
• Saturday, May 9, 2009
• Festival: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Calhoun Street / Carson Cottages
• Ugly Dog Contest: 1 p.m.
• After Hours party: 3 – 8 p.m., Calhoun Street Promenade
   — $5 per person, which includes entertainment. Food & beverages will be sold
       from 3 – 8 p.m. Adult beverages will be sold all day.
• Calhoun Street & side streets will be closed to traffic at 9:00 a.m. May 9, 2009 and no one will be allowed in with a motorized vehicle after that time. NO EXCEPTIONS.
• (843) 815-2277 or (843) 384-1442