It was an exciting two weeks for people and organizations seeking to enhance and celebrate the quality of life in the Lowcountry. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, scores of women gathered at the home of Weesie Newton to break bread and hear about Women Making a Difference’s plan to continue spreading hope and compassion on behalf of local women and children in need.

The driving rain did little to deter a few thousand women from donning their best attire and negotiating monstrous puddles in order to claim a seat in the audience of Oprah Winfrey’s much-anticipated Saturday afternoon (Feb. 24) appearance at the North Charleston Performing Arts Complex. The event was billed as “O, The Oprah Magazine’s Live Your Best Life: An Afternoon with Oprah Winfrey,” and featured two hours of personal insight, inspiration, and revelation by the very funny Ms. Winfrey. Backstage, Ms. Winfrey presented the Center for Women with a $25,000 award from Oprah’s Angel Network.

On Saturday evening, several hundred guests gathered at Lowndes Grove plantation to celebrate Charleston’s burgeoning creative class with the Advertising Federation’s annual Addy Awards. On Sunday evening, the weekend wound down with the Lowcountry Food Bank’s annual Chef’s Feast dinner gala to benefit Kids Café, one of the nation’s largest free meal service programs for children. Mouth-watering aromas filled the ballroom of the North Charleston PAC thanks to 20 of the Lowcountry’s premier chefs, who donated their time and resources to help put an end to child hunger.

The City Paper‘s annual Best of Charleston party lit up the scene last Wednesday. Over a thousand jubilant revelers descended upon the S.C. Aquarium to celebrate the best of the best as it pertains to life in the Lowcountry. Denise Barto, party rental queen, transformed the venue (with the help of PDA) into a sleek, spandex-wrapped oasis while DJ Moo Moo turned up the heat on the dance floor. When it came time to kick everyone out, the crowd grew feisty and did their best to linger as long as possible. The party was one of the best fêtes I’ve attended in the last three years, and, no, I’m not partial.

From a daytime culinary village to tented evening affairs that drew sold-out crowds, Marion Square was abuzz with the excitement of the first-ever Distinctively Charleston Food + Wine Festival, which reigned over the city throughout the weekend. Charleston is a city that loves its festivals and to this newest offering, we say, “Cheers!”

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1. Craig and Renee Anthony with Mike Henry at the Addy Awards 2. Sam Richardson and Sarah Nielsen are #1 and they know it! 3. Lowcountry Food Bank Executive Director Jermaine Husser, whose voice is unmistakably Denzel Washington-like, receives congratulations from Congressman Henry Brown 4. Matthew Renken samples one of Club Habana’s mini martinis at the BOC party 5. A bevy of babes rock the Best Of Charleston party 6. Always-jovial Bobby Houck receives congratulations from CP Music Editor Ballard Lesemann 7. Magnums, magnums everywhere, and not a drop left to drink 8. Retha Limehouse, Laura Bright, Jennet Robinson Alterman, Nandini Macauley (holding the Oprah’s Angel Network Award), Doretha Walker, Doris Singleton, Oprah Winfrey, Susie Callahan, Leigh Ann Szteiter, Amanda Bunting Comen, Bedie Holland, and Judy Sawyer 9. Farrah Man gets into his trademark groove on the BOC dance floor 10. With his underwater tablet, the aquarium diver offered congratulations to the winners gathered around the tank 11. Dr. Mark and Karen Luckie celebrate his win as Best Chiropractor

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