by Clay Barbour
Courtney Hampson is the vice president of marketing for Palmetto Bluff, a conservation-based resort community in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. The 20,000-acre spread is known for its beautiful river views, diverse wildlife and sporting lifestyle. Recently, however, it has also gained a reputation for its Field + Fire event, a three-day party that features sports like fly fishing and falconry, as well as food prepared by Michelin-starred chefs. Distinction, invited to last year’s event, found its Bourbon + Birds meal extraordinary and the exhibitions enlightening. The falconry trip was especially memorable.
How did Field & Fire start?
Fifteen years ago when Palmetto Bluff was brand-new, our team was looking to create energy on-property in order to attract people to visit this little spot of the country and maybe like it enough to make it their home. We developed a series of programming initiatives and community events to create life here. We started small, but we continued to grow slowly over time. Now, we’re coming up on the 13th year of our food and wine event, Music to Your Mouth, in addition to our third year for Field + Fire.
What is the point of Field + Fire?
Much like Music to Your Mouth, we started this event to create tradition at Palmetto Bluff and inspire people to engage in outdoor pursuits. This area has 20,000 acres and 32 miles of rivers. It features extensive nature trails and provides year-round access to a variety of sports and recreational pursuits, so there is really something for everyone. We strive to create a place where everyone can lose the keys to their car, disconnect from technology, get outside and reconnect to the land.
How many people typically make the trip?
In total, we sell about 1,700 tickets to the more than 20 events over the course of the weekend, but the events can range in size from eight people for the falconry expedition to 500 people for the two-day Field + Fire market. (The next Field + Fire is Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, with tickets available starting Nov. 1 and ranging from $75 to $400.)
What can people look forward to this year?
This year, Field + Fire will have 20 events to choose from, including the market, which showcases Southern artisans and makers of sports apparel, art and jewelry, specialty outdoor gear, and high-end shotguns and saddles. It’s our largest event and creates a central gathering place for the weekend. We will also feature exhibitions led by experts in falconry, dog training and horses. We’ll host an annual sporting-clays tournament to benefit the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy – a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting Palmetto Bluff’s natural resources. And throughout the weekend we’ll have a mix of phenomenal cuisine and wine, as well as an epic, five-course paired Bourbon + Birds dinner. Last year, the meal was prepared by Michelin-starred chef Mark Lundgaard from Denmark.