A Day at the U.S. Oyster Festival

I’ve been waiting for a chance to get out of the kitchen and blog about a unique and celebratory event with foodie-worthy eats, entertainment, contests, and crafts. I found it at the U.S. Oyster Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland this weekend. The 2011 festival, October 15-16, is the 45th-annual event. I’ve lived in Maryland for 28 years and am a bit ashamed to say that I had never heard of this festival until two weeks ago. I will make up for missing this event for more than a generation by going back for the next 28 years.

 When we arrived at the festival (I wrangled my husband and teenaged son into going), I headed straight for the oyster-shucking station. My family went looking for the bands. At the shucking station, folks could buy a bowl of unshucked raw or scalded oysters. After laying eyes on the thin, flat-tipped knife that shuckers used to open the oysters, I decided to photograph an expert instead of risking my own fingers. I inhaled sharply each time my subject (above) pried the knife into an oyster. If that had been me, my hands would have been cut into lace. 

Clearly, though, the risk pays off.

I searched and found my kind of oysters.

 I saw the festival’s Oyster King… (Photo by Maggie Hines)
and learned how oysters protect Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.

Then, I took an oyster stew break.

We were front and center for the musical entertainment.

 I took another break for Rockfish Tenders: greasy, but tasty.

There was a line for grilled oysters, so I went to the crafts exhibit and found edible crafts. 
 Of course there were waffle cones…
and brewskies.


It was a mellow, food-filled day. I missed a few things: the National Oyster Shucking Contest, the National Oyster Cookoff, and the deep-fried Oreos, but I enjoyed just hanging out, eating seafood, listening to music, and enjoying the blessedly beautiful weather.

Comments

  1. says

    I hope you return next year for the Cook-Off.
    This year’s winner is Loic Jaffres,chef-owner of Cafe des Artistes in Leonardtown.
    If you are in the area, check out his restaurant.
    Noreen

  2. says

    Hi Noreen,

    Thanks for commenting and for including the Cook-Off winner’s name. I’ll make a special trip to visit Cafe des Artistes. I will return to the U.S. Oyster Festival next year and beyond.

  3. says

    What a fun day! I love oysters and would have probably ate to much if I was there. A few weekends ago we took the family to a crab festival and needless to say I ate to much food lol.

  4. says

    Nate: Thanks for commenting! I wish you and Annie could have been at the Oyster Festival as well. I’m still tasting those yummy fried oysters!

    S.V. I appreciate your comment. I wish I could have made that crab festival!

  5. says

    Love Oysters, what a fun day out for you :)
    There are few oyster farms here in northern California. I need to investigate whether they have festivals like the one you’ve been. It would be a cool thing to do. There is a place in Marshal north of San Francisco I go to when I am in the mood for oysters. Super fresh! They serve them raw, grilled and bbq’d a total treat! I like your blog!
    Cheers,
    Heguiberto

  6. says

    Well hello fellow oyster lover! It seems people really love or really hate oysters, but I’m happy to be among the lovers. My hubby is from LA and he has family all over California. We were in San Francisco a few years ago, and I’d love to go back in the spring. Next time you go to that place in Marshal, I’d love to know the name of the oyster place there for future reference. Barbecued oysters? That sounds really intriguing! Thanks so much for commenting, and I look forward to chatting again soon.

    Alaiyo

  7. says

    I love food festivals too and am constantly looking for them. I’m afraid that here in the Northeast, there won’t be many more until next summer–but I’ll be waiting. Thanks for your comment!

  8. says

    Wow, I sure would have loved to be at that fun oyster festival. I can’t recall that we have had any kind of oyster festival in our S. Florida area…although we do have the seafood festival once a year, which is also fun.
    Great photos, from the event, and love…love the oyster specialties!
    Thanks for sharing, and thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog!
    Have a beautiful Sunday:DDD

  9. says

    Hi Elisabeth,

    Thanks for commenting! Well, you’ll just have to make it up to Maryland next year for the oyster festival here. ;) I know there is delicious seafood in Florida, and I’ve always enjoyed visiting. Thanks for your kind words–and I really like your blog and will be returning to see what’s new.

    Cheers,

    Alaiyo

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