The 36th Annual OysterFest, happening October 7 and 8, is Shelton’s largest festival celebrating aquaculture and the oyster. But that’s not all. Hosted by the Shelton Skookum Rotary Club Foundation, the festival is full of food and fun for everyone, even if you are not a fan of seafood. Best of all, the proceeds of the entire festival benefit local charity organizations.
“Each booth is manned by volunteers and all the proceeds from that booth go to the charity they belong are affiliated with,” explains Melanie Bakala, the Grand Old Oyster (GOO) – the Skookum Rotarian in charge of OysterFest. “Almost four decades ago Dick Oltman started OysterFest with the goal to extend the tourism season. What he created is so much more than that – it’s the main fundraiser for our charity organizations and that has a major impact on our community.”
For example, if you spend money on the coconut shrimp, it goes toward providing meals to senior citizens in Mason County through Meals on Wheels. The coconut shrimp from Senior Citizens of South Sound, by the way, is the most popular item at the festival Melanie says. Another favorite is the Squaxin Elders salmon and fry bread which benefits the elder members of the Squaxin Island Tribe. Buying barbecued oysters supports the Boy Scouts.
“Go ahead, take a bite and do some good,” she adds.
Not Just Seafood
Not sure you want to bite into an oyster? That’s not a problem. There are so many choices in fare at the festival that you could spend all day just eating! Melanie says the food is definitely a big draw.
“We have vendors serving everything from hamburgers and brats to candy apples and root beer floats,” Melanie says. Other highlights include espresso, fudge, chili and corn on the cob. Let’s face it – we are all a bit sad that fair season ends with the Washington State Fair. Think of this as your last opportunity to get your fill of delicious fair food before winter is upon us.
There will also be a wine tasting booth with 19 different wineries attending so you can taste test as well as purchase bottles to take home. Each year OysterFest has their own private label bottle of wine. This year, Scatter Creek Winery’s Peach Breeze Chardonnay and Daves Rajin’ Red Blend will bear the OysterFest label. Tasting tickets are just a $1 and souvenir glasses are just $5.
And of course, don’t forget the micro brews. Over 20 breweries will be serving up their best at the festival inside the 21+ beer garden which benefits the Skookum Rotary Foundation.
OysterFest Event Highlights
When it comes to events, the West Coast Oyster Shucking Competition and Seafood Cook Off, are the “must sees.”
West Coast Oyster Shucking Competition – Expert shuckers vie for the title of fastest shucker or the best half-shell shucker on both Saturday and Sunday starting at noon through closing. This competition is a preliminary event to the National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest held at St. Mary’s Oyster Festival October 21-22 in Maryland. National winners go on to compete internationally.
OysterFest Cook Off – Organized by the Shelton Rotary Club, this year’s “Top Chef” style cook-off will be one like never before. On Saturday, get ready for some high-stakes action as amateur chefs will be given ingredients and asked to create a dish. Then on Sunday, the professional chefs take the stage, and at the end of the day the amateur champion and the professional champion from Saturday will face-off to see who will be the next Top OysterFest Chef.
Family Fun for Everyone
In between the contests, the family will have plenty to do with activities, games and rides.
- Putt Putt Golf – Fun for the entire family, this miniature golf game is presented by local Boy Scout Troupes.
- Barrel Train Rides – A kid favorite every year and not to be missed
- Marine Touch Tanks – another kid favorite is a hands-on educational booth filled with intertidal sea creatures
- More Kid-Friendly Fun – With face painting, crafts, miniature boats, remote control airplane demonstrations, carnival games and more, this festival packs a fun-filled punch your family will love.
When it’s time to take a break, head to one of the two stages and listen to some music while sampling the fare.
High Ceiling – This local Shelton band is opening the 2017 event in the beer garden with their feel-good tunes. They won honors in two categories at the Olympia Music Awards. Live music will continue throughout the weekend in the beer garden.
Family String Band with the vocals of Joanne Green – This all-ages favorite will deliver an energy-packed performance at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday to kick things off at the Family Entertainment Tent (Wine Tent) which is open to all ages. Live music will continue throughout the weekend in this venue as well..
Getting to OysterFest
Take Highway 101 north towards Shelton, exit onto Sanderson Way Road and follow the signs to OysterFest.
OysterFest is open Saturday, October 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is just $5. All proceeds go to the Skookum Rotary Foundation, which uses the funds to support community grants, scholarships, and a variety of projects in Mason County.
Onsite parking is free. Handicap parking is available near the gates. There is also free shuttle bus service from Shelton Civic Center, Shelton Yacht Club and Shelton High School. Shuttles run about every 30 minutes.
For more information, visit the OysterFest website.