Oysters are synonymous with the Chesapeake Bay and we celebrate them during the fall months. There are a few fun events on the calendar in 2021 happening around the Chesapeake Bay this Fall.
- Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s OysterFest, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, St. Michaels, Md.
- Rock Hall FallFest, October 9, 2021, Rock Hall, MD
- S. National Oyster Festival, October 16 -17, 2021, St. Mary’s County.
- Historic Greenbrier Farms Oyster & South Festival 2021, Nov 2021 Dates Unconfirmed, Chesapeake, VA
- Urbanna Oyster Festival, November 1-2, Urbanna, VA
- Corks & Oysters, Sat, Nov 13, 2021 and Sun, Nov 14, 2021, Good Luck Cellars, 1025 Good Luck Road, Kilmarnock, VA.
Celebrating the oyster as a Chesapeake Bay treasure is part of the history of the region. Oyster varieties vary around the world and there are species native to Chesapeake Bay. The flavors, size and shape of oysters vary depending on where the mollusks were harvested.
Atlantic oysters are identified by names such as the American oyster, Wellfleets, Bluepoints, Eastern oyster, or the rare Totten Inlet Virginica (found on the west coast). The Atlantic oyster species is native to North America and was first discovered in the shallow coastal waters of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
Chesapeake Bay oysters are typically larger than those from northern climates — but smaller than oysters from the South. Eastern Oysters have two shells and is related to other shellfish, such a clams and mussels. The shells are generally greyish/brown in color and rough, except for the inside which is smooth and white. Atlantic oysters have a saltiness and aren’t as sweet tasting as the Pacific varieties due to the strong sea flavor.
Misty point oysters are another type of Atlantic oyster from the Barrier Islands, Virginia. They have a hard shell and an elongated oval shape and grow up to 3 inches.
Historically oysters have been harvested in the nation’s largest estuary with abandon until the population declined severely. Since the late nineteenth century, the oyster industry—including the catch, sale, shucking, packing and shipping of oysters—has contributed millions of dollars to the region’s economy.
Not only do oysters help the economy, but they are also great for the environment by being natural water filter feeders. Chesapeake Bay oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day per oyster.
Aside from the practically of the shellfish we are lucky to shuck out of the Bay, there are many delicious things about the oyster. Some of the best and easiest ways to enjoy the oyster (after a professional opens the shell) is raw with a squeeze of lemon. But you want to include in a meal, try the following ideas.
- Oyster and cornbread dressing
- Scalloped oysters
- Oysters Rockefeller
- Grilled with butter and fennel
- Oyster stew
- Seafood gumbo