Since 2004, the East Cooper Chapter of Ducks Unlimited has been in the top one percent in net fundraising of the more-than 3,800 Ducks Unlimited chapters nationwide. In fact, the East Cooper branch’s annual Ducks Unlimted SEWE Oyster Roast has repeatedly been one of the top three fundraisers for the conservation group. Impressive.

Funds garnered by Ducks Unlimited are used to conserve wetlands and protect their inhabitants in South Carolina. Since 2001, Ducks Unlimited has conserved over 155,000 acres of wetlands in the Palmetto State alone, with the East Cooper Chapter directly protecting 20,000 of those acres, according to Area Chairman Mark Hartley.

“We’ve been recognized nationally for the great conservation partnership we have with the folks at SEWE, and our relationship is a model many other groups try to emulate,” Hartley says. “This is the only place to be on Friday night of the Expo.”

Oyster-haters have no reason to shy away from this event; there will be a full array of Southern cooking favorites at the roast. Local shrimp and grits, pulled pork barbecue, fried flounder, duck gumbo, venison chili, and all the fixins will be served at the Visitor Center Bus Shed. Refreshments are also included in the ticket price, and although families are encouraged to attend, only those 21 and over are invited to partake. As for what to wear, there is only one dress code for the evening: dress warm!

“While the Visitor Center is covered, it’s still outside and it can get cold,” says Hartley.

The live auction and band will hopefully heat things up, along with the help of a few kerosene heaters.

Meanwhile, the live auction will feature a top-notch list of items, including high-end shotguns, South African safaris, pheasant hunting trips in South Dakota, and several other wild game excursions. Notice a trend.

The silent auction will feature over 100 more items, including weekend getaways and artwork. Raffle tickets also seem to be a good buy this year. Up for grabs is a center console Boston Whaler boat, priced at $40,000, along with 15 shotguns, original and limited addition artwork, and original and rare decoys.

Following the auction, which is set to take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., local bluegrass favorites YeeHaw Junction will take the stage to encourage a little dancing before the end of the night.