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...
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.