Shuckin’ for a Cause

Oysters are drenched in a rich history. From providing life during the Great Depression to the cause of death during the Oyster Wars of the mid-late 1800s, oysters have represented a broad spectrum of life as well as stood as a symbol of passion. Most importantly, oysters represent a way of life, a life known no better than in and around the Chesapeake Bay. As local venues gear up for a number of annual festivals to celebrate the life of oysters, many do so in an effort to preserve the treasured lifestyle. This year, a few festivals are benefitting the Oyster Recovery Partnership, an organization dedicated to rehabilitating and rebuilding oyster habitats in the Chesapeake Bay. Through ORP’s partnerships with scientists, conservationists, watermen, businesses, government, as well as state and local partners, nearly 4 billion oysters have been planted on 1,500 acres of oyster reefs and approximately 1,200 tons of shell have been recycled to provide homes for new oysters. Get Shuckin’ for a cause and celebrate oysters this season.

OYSTERFEST VI Oct. 12 &13 This annual festival brings thousands of locals and visitors together in Baltimore’s historic Federal Hill for a two-day celebration at Ryleigh’s Oyster. The festivities begin Saturday at noon with a block party featuring live music and the annual Shucking Championship at 5 p.m. Picking back up Sunday at 4 p.m. following the Raven’s football game, theday features more live music and plenty of oysters. Activities on both days run until 9 p.m. Admission is free. Ryleigh’s Oysters; 36 E. Cross St., Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md.

CITY CENTER OYSTER ROAST Oct. 18 - 5 p.m. The five-acre Fountain Plaza at City Center at Oyster Point is the picturesque setting for this festival of seafood and oyster tasting, featuring Chesapeake Bay seafood. Crafts and an “Oyster Shell” scavenger hunt for children make this festival a fun family affair. Live musical entertainment will be featured with food and beverages for sale. Free admission and parking. Oyster Point City Center; 701 Town Center Dr., Newport News, Va.

ST. MARY’S OYSTER FESTIVAL Oct. 19 & 20 The annual St. Mary’s Oyster Festival promises to be two days of family fun. The fest includes a National Oyster Shucking Contest as well as the National Oyster Cook-Off. Winners go on to represent the U.S. internationally. Oysters will be served raw, scalded, grilled, on bread, on the half shell, stewed, nude, cooked in savory sauces, in salads, and even in desserts. Other local fare will be available as well as beer and wine. Music, entertainment, exhibits, carnival rides and crafts also included. Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Proceeds go to local charities. Admission $5. 42455 Fairgrounds Rd., Leonardtown, Md.

SHUCK IT! 8Oct. 26 - 2 to 6 p.m.* Expert shuckers will be serving up the freshest raw, grilled and fried oysters in 12 different varieties from local Chesapeake, Northeast, and West Coast regions at Tony & Joe’s in Washington Harbour. Other specialties will be dished up as well as beer and wine pairings. A surf band will provide live entertainment. The event will host a special silent auction benefitting the Oyster Recovery Partnership. $75 for tickets Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place 3000 K St., NW

OYSTERFEST Nov. 2 - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. OysterFest at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum features live music by Sweet Leda, local fare, children’s activities, boat rides, oyster demonstrations, harvesting displays, retriever demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, documentary films, and an oyster stew competition among regional chefs. Conservation groups including Tilghman Islanders Grow Oysters, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Oyster Recovery Partnership, and The Nature Conservancy will be on-hand to discuss efforts to clean and preserve the Bay. Admission is free for CBMM members and children five & under, otherwise it’s $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $6 for children between the ages of six and 17. 213 N. Talbot St., St. Michaels, Md.

56TH URBANNA OYSTER FESTIVAL Nov. 1 & 2 Home of Virginia’s official Oyster Festival, the quaint town of Urbanna, just up the Rappahannock River, dedicates an entire weekend to all things oysters. The two-day festival includes; a shucking contest, wine tasting, parade, multiple live bands, and more than 50 food vendors with oysters served raw, roasted, fried, smoked, steamed, in fritters and in a stew. Crafts andfamily friendly activities featured. Festivities begin Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and continue Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 45 Cross St., Urbanna, Va.

OLD EBBITT GRILL OYSTER RIOT XIX Nov. 22 & 23 The 19th Annual Oyster Riot is a huge party held the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. Each night, nearly 1,000 people devour tens of thousands of oysters while enjoying the gold medal winners of the International Wines for Oysters Competition.

The Saturday afternoon Matinee Riot returns for its 4th year from Noon to 3 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Oyster Recovery Partnership. Oyster shells are sorted and transferred to the Partnership. About 75 bushels of shells were collected for ORP last year. Once aged, the shells will end be planted with one million baby oysters. Limited number of tickets. Friday and Saturday 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. Tickets $140 Old Ebbitt Grill, 675 15th Street, NW

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