Oyster lovers will gather to slurp, swoon, and celebrate the succulent bivalve at the Galway International Oyster Festival (Sept. 25-28). Now in its 60th year, the weekend event is deemed one of Europe’s longest-running food extravaganzas. Opening night kicks off with music, seafood, Ireland’s national shucking championship, and presentation of the season’s first oyster to Galway’s mayor by the newly crowned Oyster Pearl — a tradition since 1954. On Saturday, a parade weaves through the narrow medieval streets to the Spanish Arch and there’s a nonstop afternoon of food and entertainment. Representing the United States, Wellfleet’s William “Chopper” Young will vie to regain the title of world’s fastest oyster shucker— currently held by Denmark’s Jesper Knudsen — at the World Oyster Opening Championship. Events include late-night revels at Masquerade Mardi Gras, cooking demos, seafood trails, and Sunday’s family-friendly festival. Tickets $20-$130. 011-353-91-394637, galwayoysterfestival.com GO CHOPPER! MAY THE BEST SHUCKER WIN!!
August 5 is National Oyster Day! Who decided that? Who cares! All I know is I now have an excuse (as if I needed one) to indulge in shucking and slurping one of my all-time fave foods. In honor of this momentous occasion I’m including a list of TEN fab oyster festivals you can attend this fall. You’re welcome!
Milford Oyster Festival
“30,000 Oysters & Clams brought to you by East Coast Shellfish Growers Association & the Annual Milford Oyster Festival.”
Shock Top Oyster Fest
“Fresh oysters help kick off the unofficial start of autumn at this acclaimed post-Labor Day festival in Chicago’s trendy Roscoe Village neighborhood that's celebrating its 16th year in 2014. Tents housing fresh seafood as well as other culinary delights from local restaurants are but one highlight of what has grown over the years to become a truly unique change-of-season happening. There's also arts & crafts. Another major draw? An eclectic music lineup (past performers include The Human League, Alien Ant Farm, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir and Men at Work) plus a stellar lineup of several top Irish music acts.”
New York Oyster Week
“New York Oyster Week is a celebration of New York's sense of adventure and ingenuity through events and dining…Join us as we dine, cheers and revel to promote sustainable aquaculture, connect consumers with their food source and raise money and awareness for clean waterways, aquaculture education and the repopulation of protective and productive oyster reefs.”
Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival
“The oldest oyster festival in the world and the most internationally recognized Irish festival after St Patrick’s Day…Deemed one of Europe’s longest-running food extravaganzas…celebrating Galway’s rich annual oyster harvest.
Falmouth Oyster Festival
“Falmouth Oyster Festival celebrates the start of the oyster dredging season, the diversity and quality of Cornish Seafood and in particular, one of the last remaining traditional oyster fisheries, dredging by sail and hand punt.”
“This two-day family festival celebrates the town's famous oysters, clams and shellfishing traditions bringing together locals and visitors alike for a weekend full of hometown flavor and big time fun! There is something for everyone: local cuisine, arts and crafts, educational programs, cooking demonstrations, children's activities, walking tours, live music, a road race, and the annual Oyster Shuck-Off competition.”
St. Mary's County Oyster Festival
“Oysters served up raw, scalded, grilled on the barbie, on bread, on the half shell, stewed, nude, cooked in savory sauces, in salads, even in desserts, just about every way imaginable and then some.”
The Florida Seafood Festival
Oct 31-Nov. 1
Apalachicola , Florida
“The Florida Seafood Festival is a two day event annually drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the historic town of Apalachicola in scenic Franklin County. The Festival is held at the mouth of the Apalachicola river under the shady oaks of Apalachicola's Battery Park. The festival features delicious seafood, arts and crafts exhibits, seafood related events, musical entertainment. Events include Oyster Eating and Oyster Shucking contest, Blue Crab Races, Photo Contest, Parade, 5k Redfish Run, The Blessing of the Fleet ,History of the Festival Exhibit, Fireworks Show and King Retsyo's Ball.”
The Clayoquot Oyster Festival
“What began in 1997 as a one night event to break up the winter blues and call attention to a sustainable aquaculture industry has now grown in to four days of oyster events that include a costume party, oyster farm tours, restaurant events and a gala featuring chefs competition all in the name of Clayoquot Sound’s love of eating oysters and feeling good.”
Urbanna Oyster Festival
Festival Village, waterfront educational activities, entertainment. carnival and pony rides, wine testing, shucking competition, and more.
I spotted U.S. National Shucking Champion William "Chopper" Young on a float in the 4th of July parade in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Could he be practicing for the international oyster opening competition in Galway, Ireland? This marks the 60th year of festivities at the Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival (September 25-28). If you've never been, book your tickets NOW and go cheer for Chopper as he represents the USA. Oh yes, and eat some fabulous oysters!
I grew up spending part of every summer in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, which included eating many oysters. After stumbling into an oyster shucking competition in Miami Beach in 2006, I’ve become a fan of the sport and have written about local, national, and international competitions for the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, American Way Magazine, and the Huffington Post. I've also written oyster-centric stories for Rustik and Modern Farmer. I’ve never met an oyster I didn’t want to eat.