On Saturday, Oct. 26, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St Michaels, Md., will host two stages of live music and an oyster stew competition as part of its annual OysterFest. The annual event runs from 10am–4pm, rain or shine.
Oyster stew competitors include Eat Sprout; Bistro St. Michaels; Stars Restaurant from the Inn at Perry Cabin; Theo’s Steaks, Sides & Spirits; and t at the General Store. This year, CBMM staff members will also be serving up their own oyster stew, with a recipe adapted from several historic cookbooks. Though not part of the competition, all participants will have a chance to sample this recipe as well.
Festival goers are encouraged to sample oyster stews beginning at 11am and while supplies last. Participation is limited to the first 500 people on a first-come, first-served basis, with a commemorative OysterFest mug and the tastings offered for $10 per participant. 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. Chef Doug Stewart from Bistro St. Michaels was awarded first place at last year’s festival.
Throughout the day, TV personality and chef David Gaus, in partnership with Butter Pat Industries, will be hosting open air cooking demonstrations in cowboy cauldron fire pits. Gaus is the owner of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington, Va.; has been a guest on the Today Show and Food Network’s Chopped; and is the host of Travel Channel’s American Grilled. Guests will be able to watch Gaus cook locally harvested oysters throughout the day, or just hang out by the fire, and sample his creations on a first come, first served basis.
Swamp Donkey Newgrass—a high energy newgrass band with a twist of rock—is returning to CBMM’s Oyster Fest, playing live all day from the Tolchester Beach Bandstand. The Annapolis-based group has played twice before at OysterFest, and is noted for vocal harmonies and tight transitions.Performing from 10am–4pm from the Steamboat deck will be The Freewheelers, bringing their breezy, melodic vibes to Fogg’s Cove and the Miles River.
Family activities include Chesapeake cornhole, giant oyster reef jenga, build-a-boat activities, and children’s storybook readings. Phillips Wharf Environmental Center’s Fishmobile will give guests an opportunity to explore fish, terrapins, horseshoe crabs, blue crabs, oyster toadfish, oysters, eel, box turtles, and more.
At the Tolchester Beach Bandstand, festival-goers can watch or participate in an oyster slurping contest, with preliminary rounds taking place on the hour from 11:30am–1:30pm, with the final contest at 1:45pm. From 11am–3pm, CBMM’s Shipyard staff will be presenting demonstrations and talk on topics including shaping a dugout canoe, metal forging, and their construction of the new Maryland Dove.
This year’s OysterFest presenting sponsors are Shore United Bank and Wye Financial & Trust, with other sponsors including Patriot Cruises, Bay Imprint, the Maryland State Arts Council, Eastern Shore Tents & Events, Kelly Distributors, Lyon Distilling Company, and George’s Bloody Mary Mix.
Admission to OysterFest is $5 for CBMM adult members or $18 for non-member adults; $15 for seniors (65+), retired military (with ID), and college students (with ID); $6 for children 6–17; $5 for active military members (with ID); and free for children 5 and under. CBMM members at the Family & Friends level and above also receive $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 non-festival dates. Proceeds from the event support CBMM’s education, restoration, and exhibition programs, with advanced tickets and more information at cbmm.org/oysterfest.