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Get your shrimp fill today: All kinds on tap at Mount Pleasant festival

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MOUNT PLEASANT -- Like Bubba says in "Forrest Gump," there are many ways to enjoy shrimp. You can barbecue, boil, broil, bake or saute it. There's shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo and pan-fried, deep-fried or stir-fried shrimp.

But Bubba never answered a vital question about shrimp: What is the best way to fix it?

The town of Mount Pleasant aims to fill that culinary void today with its first "Big Shrimp'N" at Alhambra Hall. There, you'll find a few shrimp dishes that even Bubba missed.

Bourbon butter shrimp, Acapulco gold shrimp and shrimp corn dogs with champagne mustard and ketchup will be among the offerings. Shrimp tacos and shrimp gravy on sweet corn waffles also will be on the menu.

A critics' panel will pick which shrimp is best. A people's choice award will be bestowed at the end of the evening based on a popular ballot. Winners will receive bragging rights for "Best Shrimp Dish in Mount Pleasant."

A crowd of at least a thousand shrimp eaters is expected, so those who attend are encouraged to catch a shuttle to the event from either Red's Ice House on Shem Creek or James B. Edwards Park at Pitt and Queen streets, said Nicole Harvey, a special-events planner for Mount Pleasant.

"Big Shrimp'N will provide an opportunity to enjoy the season's catch while giving local restaurants a chance to showcase their best shrimp dishes," she said.

More than a dozen restaurants east of the Cooper will compete. Samples of the various shrimp dishes will be available for $1 each. The David Higgins Band and Southwood will perform. Mount Pleasant Seafood is providing the shrimp.

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

Big Shrimp'N is the second festival in town based on crustaceans. Thousands attended The Blessing of the Fleet party in the spring at Memorial Waterfront Park.

For shrimpers, though, times have been tough. The fleet has been shrinking. Only eight boats were 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.

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