OysterFest in St. Michaels is October 29, 2016

July 8, 2016

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
(ST MICHAELS, MD – July 8, 2016)

On Saturday, October 29, 2016 the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is hosting OysterFest, a celebration of the Chesapeake’s favorite bivalve. The event features live music on two stages, an oyster stew competition, boat rides, retriever demonstrations, oysters and other local fare, and cooking demonstrations, along with children’s activities, oystering demonstrations, harvesting displays, and more.

Generous sponsors to the event include Pepsi Bottling Ventures, Kelly Distributors, Easton Eye Care, and George’s Bloody Mary Mix.

This year, Swamp Donkey — a high energy newgrass band with a twist of rock — is returning to OysterFest, playing live from the Tolchester Beach Bandstand. Performing on a second stage along CBMM’s Fogg’s Cove will be the melodic Kent Island-based trio, Key Lime Pie, performing “barefoot-guitar” pop from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

In addition to CBMM’s floating fleet of historic vessels, several commercial watermen and their boats will be dockside to share the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster dredging and hand tonging traditions. Limited boat rides with Chesapeake watermen with oyster tonging demonstrations will also be offered.

Local watermen will serve freshly caught and shucked Chesapeake Bay wild oysters, served steamed or raw on the half shell. Aquaculture raw oysters, oyster fritters, and fried oyster sandwiches will also be available. For those who celebrate oysters rather than eat them, pit beef, hot dogs, hamburgers, and other seafood selections, along with cold beer, warm apple cider, and more will be offered. Fordham Brewing Company’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout—made in honor of CBMM’s 1955 skipjack Rosie Parks—will be served along with Budweiser and other craft beers.

Local restaurants will perform cooking demonstrations of signature oyster dishes throughout the day, with oyster slurping contests offered each hour from 1-3 pm. with bragging rights and a prize for the winner. Beginning at 11:00 a.m. along CBMM’s Fogg’s Cove, festival-goers can vote for their favorite oyster stew in a competition among local restaurants and chefs. Participation is limited to the first 500 on a first-come, first-served basis, with a commemorative OysterFest mug and the tastings offered for $10. The blind taste test awards bragging rights to the chef with the most votes, with the People’s Choice winner announced at the festival and later to the public. Oyster stew competition sponsors include Hair O’ The Dog Wine & Spirits, and Chesapeake Landing Seafood Restaurant.

Family activities are in abundance at the event, with river cruises aboard Winnie Estelle, an oversized oyster puzzle game, an oyster nursery, and net-making and knot-tying demonstrations, a scavenger hunt, and face painting. Children can also build a take-home model boat for a $3 fee. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever Relief and Rescue club will also present retriever demonstrations on CBMM’s Navy Point.

Marylanders Grow Oysters, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Oyster Recovery Partnership, and other conservation organizations will be on-hand to discuss efforts to clean and preserve the Chesapeake Bay. Phillips Wharf Environmental Center’s Fishmobile will offer the opportunity to see live sturgeon, diamondback terrapins, horseshoe crabs, and other native creatures.

Festival-goers can explore CBMM’s exhibitions, including Oystering on the Chesapeake and Waterman’s Wharf, where guests can try tonging or nippering for oysters. Displayed dockside will be several boats historically used in the oystering industry, including CBMM’s 1889 log-bottomed bugeye and registered National Historic Landmark Edna E. Lockwood , the 1955 skipjack Rosie Parks, and the 1920 buyboat Winnie Estelle, among other Chesapeake Bay buyboats visiting for the festival.

This year, festival-goers will also have the opportunity to see the beginnings of the two-year historic, log-bottom restoration of the 1889 bugeye and queen of CBMM’s fleet, Edna E. Lockwood, which was once used on the Bay as an oystering boat and is now under restoration in full public view through 2018. Two temporary exhibitions highlight a museum visit this summer, including Maritime Talbot County: Photographs by H. Robins Hollyday, seen in CBMM’s Van Lennep Auditorium through October 16, 2016, and Chesapeake Ammo, Camo and Calls in CBMM’s Waterfowling Building, which explores 100 years of clothing, guns, ammunition, calls and other Chesapeake waterfowler’s tools through November, 2016.

Admission to OysterFest is $5 for CBMM adult members, or $18 for adults; $15 for seniors and students with ID; and $6 for children 6-17. CBMM members at the Family & Friends level and above also receive the $5 discounted admission for two adult guests. Food, drinks, and boat rides are an additional cost, with carry-on alcohol prohibited. For safety reasons, non-service dogs need to be kept home during CBMM festivals, with leashed dogs permitted during regular operating hours. Proceeds from the event support CBMM’s education, restoration, and exhibition programs, with advanced tickets and more information at www.cbmm.org/oysterfest or 410-745-2916.

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