MOUNT PLEASANT -- The usually sleepy streets of the Old Village on Thursday night buzzed with cars, people and police directing traffic.

Even from a distance, you could tell this was a good party.

"Was it fun?" a couple asked.

"Oh yeah, awesome," a woman replied.

Pesky no-see-ums crashed the inaugural Big Shrimp'N, but otherwise things seemed just about perfect in the silver twilight at Alhambra Hall. "So much fun. We think Mount Pleasant is the best-kept secret," said Thomas Smallwood. His wife, Renee Smallwood, chimed in, "And we want to keep it a secret."

The couple said they moved here about a year ago.

The menu for the town-sponsored event included tequila shrimp, shrimp sausage, bourbon butter shrimp and shrimp corn dogs, to name a few of the offerings. Lines for bite-size samples were long.

"Shrimp sausage in a hot dog bun" attracted Mount Pleasant resident Stefanie Latta and a friend. "We've seen a lot of people with those and they look fantastic," she said.

Folks scratched at bug bites as they held $1 samples of fresh-cooked crustacean. "It's awesome. Besides the bugs, it's good. Good food," said Robert Carter of North Charleston.

More than a dozen restaurants cooked shrimp under open-air tents. Nearby, a rock band played.

"We think it's fabulous," said Linda Seaton of Mount Pleasant.

Kyle Miller of Charleston was glad he went. "It's good. The bugs are a little bit crazy. I like the music. It's a good band," he said.

The event appeared well on its way to a forecast attendance of at least 1,000 people.

The South Carolina Shrimpers Association and East Cooper Community Outreach are beneficiaries of Big Shrimp'N. The name of the event is an abbreviated version of "The Big Shrimp Are In."

Big Shrimp'N is the second shrimp festival in town. Thousands attended The Blessing of the Fleet party in the spring at Memorial Waterfront Park. The festival has been a part of the local scene for more than 20 years and started at Alhambra Hall.

For shrimpers, though, times have been tough. The fleet has been shrinking. Only eight boats participated in the Blessing of the Fleet parade in April on the Cooper River, and that included a Coast Guard vessel, a crabber and a deep-sea fishing boat.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.