From 10-4pm on Saturday, November 5, celebrate the Chesapeake’s oyster at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s (CBMM) OysterFest in St. Michaels, MD. The event features live music, oysters and other food, children’s activities, boat rides, oyster demonstrations and harvesting displays, retriever demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, and an oyster stew competition among regional chefs.
The folk, blues and jazz sounds of B-Natural of Chestertown will entertain guests with live music throughout the day. Band member Pres Harding is the grandson of Bronza Parks—the legendary Dorchester County boatbuilder of the museum’s skipjack, Rosie Parks. The skipjack once sailed the Chesapeake dredging for oysters, and is now undergoing a three-year restoration at the museum.
The Talbot County Watermen’s Association will have several boats dockside to help share the stories of how oyster dredging, hand tonging, patent tonging and diving for oysters have been longtime traditions of the Chesapeake Bay.
The Talbot County Watermen’s Association will also be offering freshly caught Chesapeake Bay oysters on the half shell. Hatchery-raised raw oysters and fried oyster sandwiches will also be made available. For those who prefer to learn about oysters rather than eat them, pit beef, cold beer, caramel apples, apple cider and more will also be available.
An oyster slurping contest among festival-goers and an oyster stew competition among regional chefs will earn bragging rights for the winners, with limited samples of oyster stew served up beginning at 11am. Local restaurants will also offer cooking demonstrations of their signature oyster dishes throughout the day.
Dogs can even have fun at the event, with retriever demonstrations on the water. Children and adults can also get out on the water with scenic river cruises aboard CBMM’s replica buyboat, Mister Jim. The restoration of the museum’s skipjack Rosie Parks, built by the legendary Dorchester County boatbuilder Bronza Parks, will be in full public view during the festival, while her sister ship, Martha Lewis, will be dockside for visitors to tour.
OysterFest boasts plenty of family educational and fun activities designed to help kids get to know the oyster and how important the bivalve is to the Chesapeake Bay. You can design your own oyster cans and labels, explore an oyster nursery, participate in a scavenger hunt or face painting, or check out Mr. Oyster and Johnny Oysterseed to see how oysters filter the bay’s water.
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory will have its touch tank at the event. CBMM’s Model Guild will also offer a hands-on, build-a-boat activity at a small boat pond, with model boats available for children at a $3 fee. Dip-net making and knot-tying demonstrations will also be part of the day’s activities.
The event is sponsored by Maryland Public Television, with two of its documentaries—Bugeye: A Chesapeake Legacy and Chesapeake by Air, screened in the museum’s Van Lennep Auditorium during the event.
Bugeye: A Chesapeake Legacy, follows self-proclaimed Renaissance man Sid Dickson as he handcrafts, with the help of John Hawkinson, a working replica of the Chesapeake Bay’s waterborne workhorse, the bugeye. The bugeye featured in the story, the Katherine M. Edwards, will be on display at the museum during the event. Chesapeake Bay by Air will also be screened during OysterFest. The documentary captures the unparalleled wild beauty, history and natural serenity of the bay, all from above.
Festival-goers can also explore the museum’s exhibit buildings, including Oystering on the Chesapeake and Waterman’s Wharf, where visitors can try their hand at tonging or nippering for oysters. The museum’s bugeye, Edna E. Lockwood, an 1889 log-bottomed oyster dredge boat and National Historic Landmark, will also be on display.
Admission to OysterFest is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $6 for children between the ages of six and 17. Children five years and under and CBMM members are admitted free. Food and boat rides are an additional cost. For more information, visit www.cbmm.org/oysterfest or call 410-745-2916.
OysterFest also concludes the month-long “Fall into St. Michaels” celebration hosted by the St. Michaels Business Association. For more information, visit www.stmichaelsmd.org or call 410-745-0411.