The World is Your Oyster (Roast) this Winter in Myrtle Beach

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Technically, this time of year is called winter. But for true seafood-lovers on the Grand Strand, it’s known as oyster season, their favorite time of year. The “R” months (September through April) are prime time for fresh oysters, and January and February are right in the middle of the peak harvesting period.

That means the continuation of a long-standing tradition in the Myrtle Beach area – oyster roasts. Think tailgate party but with oysters instead of pigskin. The time-tested tradition involves digging bushels of oysters, placing them on an open fire, and covering them in a wet burlap sack until they pop open.

The oysters are poured out onto a picnic table as the guests dig into the juicy jewels of the sea. The salty taste is best washed down with an ice-cold beer. Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort guests who crave the savory mollusks can find plenty of places to share in this South Carolina Lowcountry rite of winter.

From seafood shacks to oyster bars, lots of restaurants and civic organizations join forces to host oyster roasts and raise funds for deserving charities.

The perfect weekend for feasting on oysters and chatting with fellow festival patrons is Feb. 23-25 in Murrells Inlet, The Seafood Capital of South Carolina.

On Feb. 23 at The Whiskey Fish, the Rape Crisis Center of Horry and Georgetown Counties hosts its annual Oyster Roast Fundraiser and Bloody Mary Challenge.

Held from 1 to 5 p.m., the event features all-you-can eat fresh steamed oysters served under the giant live oak trees that cover the back patio deck.

Patrons can also take part (or partake) in the Bloody Mary Challenge, which allows aspiring mixologists to compete by with their best Bloody Mary concoctions.

The event also features live music by Miracle Max & The Pet Monsters, dancing, raffles and games. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 the day of the festival.

On Feb. 23, a similar event takes place just down the road with the Fifth Annual Surfriders Oyster Festival & Bloody Mary Challenge in Murrells Inlet.

Held from 1 to 6 p.m. at On The Half Shell Restaurant in Murrells Inlet, this party offers much more than just freshly steamed oysters and creative cocktails.

Enjoy all the oysters you can shuck and try 3-ounce samples of as many as 30 entrants in the Bloody Mary Challenge. Food trucks also offer non-oyster fare.

More than 50 vendors are expected to display and shop their arts and crafts, and local DJs Scott Mann and Crash of Wave 104.1 FM will emcee the festival.

Local brewery New South will serve its most popular brands of “The Beer From Here” and other local businesses will show their support for the Surfriders.

Proceeds go to support the Surfriders’ pet projects of protecting the ocean and sea life. Tickets are $25 and oyster knives are available for $4 apiece.

A few weeks earlier and a few miles farther south, the Coastal Montessori Charter School hosts its Oyster Roast and Dinner Jan. 12 at Pawleys Island Tavern.

Held from 7 to 9 p.m., this event features all-you-can-eat oysters and good times. Wrist bands are only $10 with proceeds going to benefit school programs.

For those who can’t make it to Myrtle Beach for the oysters roast festivals, never fear. There are endless opportunities to shuck ’em and suck ’em all winter.

One of the most popular spots is located in the heart of Myrtle Beach at Dirty Don’s Oyster Bar & Grill, where you can order oysters and beer by the bucket.

Another hot spot can be found on Restaurant Row at Bimini’s Oyster Bar. The modest bar and grill steams oysters, shrimp, crab legs and other fresh seafood

On the north end, Rockefeller’s Oyster Bar steams oysters to perfection. On the south end, any seafood restaurant worth its salt can hook you up with a bucket.

For a more upscale experience, try the Sea Captain’s House on Ocean Boulevard. Oysters on the half shell, fried oysters and oyster stew are on the menu.

No matter whether you like them raw, steamed, fried or straight from the sea, guests at Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort can get their oyster fix this winter.