Get ready to celebrate the Bay’s favorite bivalve at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s OysterFest (CBMM), taking place on Saturday, Oct. 26, in St. Michaels, Md.
CBMM’s OysterFest features oysters served a variety of ways, along with other local fares, craft beer, and spirits; live music on two stages, including a return performance by Swamp Donkey Newgrass; scenic river cruises aboard 1920 buyboat Winnie Estelle; an oyster stew competition; cooking presentations; Chesapeake Bay retriever and oystering demonstrations; children’s activities, and more.
Festival-goers can savor Chesapeake Bay wild and aquaculture oysters served steamed or raw, plus oyster fritters, crab cakes, fried shrimp, clam strips, pit beef, pit turkey, and pulled pork, among other offerings. Lyon Distilling Company will serve a specialty rum cocktail, with other drink options including oyster shooters and Chesapeake-style Bloody Marys, featuring George’s Bloody Mary mix. Sweets and treats include ice cream, funnel cakes, kettle corn, and more.
This year’s OysterFest will see the return of Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout. Brewed to pair well with oysters, a portion of the proceeds from the stout benefit CBMM and its name honors CBMM’s 1955 skipjack Rosie Parks.
Local chefs will offer cooking demonstrations of signature oyster dishes throughout the day. Beginning at 11 am, attendees can vote for their favorite oyster stew in a competition among local restaurants and chefs. Participation is limited to 500 people on a first-come, first-served basis, with a commemorative OysterFest mug and the tastings offered for $10.
This 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. Last year’s People’s Choice award went to Bistro St. Michaels chef Doug Stewart.
Family activities include Chesapeake-themed games, activities, and demonstrations; a scavenger hunt; face painting; and a chance to build a take-home model boat for $3. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever Relief and Rescue club will also present retriever demonstrations on CBMM’s Navy Point.
Guests will also be able to explore CBMM’s exhibitions, including Oystering on the Chesapeake and Waterman’s Wharf, where they can try tonging or nippering for oysters. A spirited oyster slurping contest has competitions taking place on the hour from 1–3 pm.
OysterFest sponsors include Shore United Bank, Wye Finical & Trust, Bay Imprint, and Patriot Cruises.
OysterFest admission is $5 for CBMM member adults and active members of the military (with ID); $18 for non-member adults; $15 for seniors (age 65 and up), college students and retired military (both with ID); $6 for non-member children ages 6–17; and free for member children 6–17, and all children 5 and under. 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 cbmm.org/oysterfest.