Capt. Salem Avery’s Oyster Festival Set for Oct. 20

By Mavis Daly

It was the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift who wrote, “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster,” but local archaeologists will tell you it was actually a hungry man living here on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay as early as 4,500 years ago. And that first bite led to true love, judging by the many mounds of ancient oyster shells unearthed along the shores of the West and Rhode Rivers.

Oyster Festival is set for Oct. 20.

Oyster Festival is set for Oct. 20.

To celebrate that long-standing love for this once ubiquitous bivalve, more than a thousand oyster lovers will pack the waterfront campus of the Captain Avery Museum on the afternoon of Sunday, October 20 from 12:30 to 5 p.m., downing oysters by the bushel, freshly shucked and served raw on the half shell, fried and steamed. It’s presented by BayVue Consulting, Inc., and sponsored by Greenstreet Gardens. Admission to the Oyster Festival is just $6 per adult and only $2 for children 12 and under.

There’s an additional modest fee for oysters, beverages and other edibles, like oyster stew, crab cakes, cream of crab soup and Maryland crab soup. Hamburgers and hot dogs will round out the menu, along with delicacies from the Chesapeake Grille and Deli, and fried oyster roll sushi and sushi roll made from soft-shell crab by the Deale Umai Sushi House. Or you can have fried oysters from Skipper’s Pier. If you’re still hungry, fill up with Bayside Kettle Corn or home baked cookies, pies, and cakes from the Museum’s “Avery Café.”

The colorful tent by the water’s edge will feature live music by Tim & Savannah Finch of the Eastman String Band, Janie Meneely and Paul Di Blasi, better known as “Calico Jack” with their original songs about the Bay, Andy Garte and Gary Harmon of the Coastal Flats and the country/bluegrass/gospel songs of local favorites, the Shady Side Sour Notes.

Kids will have good old-fashioned fun with the crab races, painting oyster shells or getting their own faces painted.

Authors, artists and artisans will have exhibits at the festival, including Blue Crab Press with books on a variety of fascinating Chesapeake Bay topics; Ocean Spun Sea Glass Creations’ seaglass jewelry and star fish; E-clipse Designs’ jewelry made from car parts; Spare Marbles’ customizable gifts and unique decor; Sweet Peas’ Bohemian bags and homegrown lavender sachets; Wimsey Cove Maps & Art with giftware and reproductions of historical maps; Art Sea’s creative driftwood sailboats and trees, nautical wreaths and painted starfish; Painting With Repurpose, featuring vintage rescued, repainted  furniture, painted metals, cabinet doors made into chalkboards; Joan W. Hines’ hand painted oyster and crab shell Christmas ornaments; and Jennifer Fletcher’s original oyster paintings. Living Health Integrative Wellness will offer gift cards for office visits.

One of the unique fund-raising elements of the event is the “Choose It and Use It” program, where the public can choose one of the dozens parties and events, handmade items or services donated by Museum members, supporters and local businesses, and use it to entertain your family and friends or enhance their home or lifestyle -– while supporting all the great programs the Captain Avery Museum provides to the community all year round.

Topping off the afternoon will be the drawing of the winner of the $5,000 raffle sponsored by the Museum.  Tickets, which are $5, will be for sale at the Festival or at local merchants.  Purchasers need not be present to win.

There’s plenty of parking available at the nearby Shady Side ball fields with free shuttles.  Handicapped parking is available at the Museum.  For more information, click on or call 410-867-4486.


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