Oysters are staples along the East Coast and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Fall brings a host of oyster festivals, roasts and other events that put the delectable bivalve front and center for enjoyment, whether you like them raw, steamed, roasted, fried or mixed into stews or other recipes. The Mid-Atlantic waterways’ variation in salinity levels produce a wide variety of oysters with different tastes to enjoy.
Here is a round-up of some major oyster events and experiences, many of which also include music, crafts, vendors, and opportunities to learn about oysters and aquaculture programs.
COASTAL VIRGINIA AND NORTHERN NECK
Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays during the fall season
Tides Inn, Irvington, Va. (tidesinn.com)
Bay-to-table experience including a morning harvesting excursion with an authentic, working Virginia waterman, lunch and a culinary demonstration by an experienced, gourmet, seafood chef, including the art of oyster shucking. It all takes place at the luxurious Tides Inn on Virginia’s Northern Neck.
Stratford Hall Wine and Oyster Festival
Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Virginia wines and oysters from Chesapeake Bay and Tidewater oyster growers, plus a variety of seafood. Plenty of distinctive crafts, craft beverages, food trucks, craft distilleries, a car show and children’s activities. Free tours of the historic home to generations of the Lee family as well.
Oyster Roast, Sept.14
Deltaville Maritime Museum
Classic oyster roast and dance.
Waternen’s Museum Oyster Roast, Sept. 14
Yorktown Watermen’s Museum
Fresh roasted or raw oysters from multiple sources plus chowder, side dishes and desserts.
Urbanna Wine and Oyster Stroll, Oct. 12
Stroll the town for intimate oyster and wine tasting experiences and live music.
City Center Oyster Roast, Oct. 25
Fountain Plaza, Newport News
Free admission and parking for everything oyster, plus other local seafood, music and craft beer.
Morattico Oyster Roast, Oct. 19
Morattico Waterfront Museum, Morattico
Tickets guarantee a seat for raw and roasted oysters and other seafood.
Holly Point Art and Seafood Festival, Oct. 19
Deltaville Maritime Museum, Deltaville
Urbanna Oyster Festival, Nov. 1-2
The Official Oyster Festival of the commonwealth. More than 50,000 attendees walk the streets of Urbanna for everything “oyster.” Parades, arts, oyster shucking contest, children’s activities, antique car show, music, and wine and beer tastings. There’s even a VIP Experience. Check out the sidebar to learn more.
Virginia Living Museum Oyster Roast, Nov. 9
Newport News (thevlm.org)
Rappahannock oysters, fried seafood, chowder, craft beers, wine and music.
Fall Oyster Crawl on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, Nov. 9-10
Sample wine paired with a variety of oyster specialties in tasting rooms at the trail’s participating wineries. (chesapeakebaywinetrail.com/event)
Taste by the Bay at the Tides Inn, Nov. 23
Sample wine, the culinary showcase, arts and ale on the grounds of this beautiful resort. Music and artisan vendors, too. Tour vintage Virginia oyster “buy boats” and learn Chesapeake Bay history.
Greenbrier Farms Oyster & South Fest, Nov. 23
Setting a thankful tone for celebrating the community.
VIRGINIA’S EASTERN SHORE
Across the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia’s Eastern Shore also celebrates the oyster.
Chili-Chowder Cook-off, Sept. 28
Check out competitors’ chili or seafood concoctions and enjoy a car show.
Chincoteague Oyster Festival, Oct, 12
Tickets sell out quickly for this event where oysters are prepared every way you can imagine, plus clams, shrimp and some landlubber options.
Exmore Rotary Soule Arnold Oyster Roast, Oct. 12
Exmore Town Park (exmore.org)
Gather in the park for a down home an all-you-can-eat oyster roast and clam steam, plus barbecue.
Saxis Island Oyster Roast, Nov. 2
Saxis Island (saxisisland.com)
Enjoy an unusual indoor oyster roast with table service for steamed oysters, fried oysters, clam chowder and clam strips, or gather around the shucking table for slurping raw oysters.
Merrior & Terrior Oyster Extravaganza, Nov. 9
Chatham Vineyards (chathamvineyards.com)
Raw bar tasting, steamed clams, roasted oysters, clam chowder, barbecue and a glass of Church Creek wine.
Maryland Seafood Festival, Sept. 7-8
Sandy Point State Park (eventbrite.com)
52nd annual outdoor celebration of Maryland seafood with great views of the Chesapeake Bay.
Chesapeake Oyster, Wine & Beer Fest, Sept. 21
Dock 5, Union Market, Washington (beerandoyster.com)
Top-rated wines paired with wild and farm-raised oysters and a wide selection of seafood dishes.
OysterFest, Oct. 26
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels (cbmm.org)
Celebrating the oyster with seafood, oyster demonstrations, live music on two stages, boat rides and an oyster stew competition.
U.S. Oyster Festival, Oct. 19-20
53rd annual National oyster shucking championship and cook-off. Taste the dishes and enjoy the excitement.
Urbanna hosts Virginia’s official oyster festival and offers VIP Experience
Urbanna’s population of 500 can grow by nearly 100 times during the annual oyster festival (this year Nov. 1-2). Known as the second-oldest oyster festival in the world, the two-day event includes two parades, an oyster shucking contest, antique show, art show, crafters, and, oh yeah, plenty of oysters and other food.
“The whole town turns into the festival grounds,” said the festival’s Pam Simon. The restaurants and stores have special food menus, entertainment and activities. From the Festival Village with its entertainment stage, craft beer and oyster pairings, and children’s activity area to the waterfront exhibits, touch tanks, and buy boats, you can walk, browse, eat and enjoy yourself.”
There’s a wine tasting area where oysters are also being paired with the wine selections, and nonprofit organizations are offering everything from barbecue to festival fare throughout town. There’s no admission to the festival, but a parking fee helps to pay for the event.
A VIP Oyster Lovers Experience is also available that offers access to three hospitality tents throughout town, VIP tables and seating, help from a festival concierge, private restroom facilities, six beer tastings, six oyster tastings, two oyster shooters, discounts at local businesses through April 2020 and a commemorative poster. The $100 tickets are available at urbannaoysterfestival.com.