The World is Our Oyster

This weekend’s New Orleans Oyster Festival orders another round of oysters and entertainment.

In a region that holds a festival to celebrate everything from strawberries to Tennessee Williams, the New Orleans Oyster Festival is a relative newcomer that started strong and gets better each year.

This free two-day festival will fete the salty Louisiana oyster, beloved by most locals and sought after by savvy visitors. Held this year May 30-31st at Woldenberg Park on the Mississippi River waterfront, it features over 20 of the best local seafood restaurants, live music, crafts and contests not for the faint of heart.

The outdoor event makes wonderful use of the landscape of the park, and attendees can walk the curving path while sampling some of the best seafood New Orleans has to offer. Sure bets on my dance card include: Acme Oyster House for Half-Dozen Raw, Borgne’s Oyster Patty, Café Reconcile’s Oysters a la Reconcile (fried oysters on a grit cake and topped with crawfish sauce), Drago’s Half-Dozen Charbroiled Oysters  and Trenasse’s Ceviche Topped Oysters. Somehow, there will also be room for dessert — Haydel’s Key Lime Pie is the goal.

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There are more than just oysters to eat, so the bivalve-avoidant will have delicious options as well. Vegetarians are out of luck at this one though. Attending this festival with at least one other person and sharing the food is a great way to try multiple dishes and not feel quite so gluttonous.

Speaking of which, the Acme Oyster House World Oyster Eating Contest truly glorifies the human capacity to eat more than we need. Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas will be defending her title with 40 dozen raw oysters eaten in 2014.

It’s not a New Orleans festival without music, and the Oyster Festival delivers with favorites including Treme Brass Band, Bucktown All-Stars, Rockin’ Dopsie, and Marcia Ball among others.

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Beyond the purposes of having fun, the festival seeks to “educate the country about the benefits of the Louisiana Gulf Oyster, honor and celebrate the restauranteurs and oyster farmers who have solidified the New Orleans French Quarter's position as the ‘Oyster Capital of America,’ and help raise funds for Coastal Restoration."

To that end, a portion of the proceeds from food and beverage sales will be donated to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana's Oyster Shell Recycling Program, ORA Estuaries and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation's Artificial Reef Program.

So go ahead and eat, buy and boogie — you are benefiting the Louisiana coast and economy.

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New Orleans Oyster Festival At-A-Glance:

May 30-31st at Woldenberg Park on the Riverfront edge of the French Quarter

Free Admission

Guaranteed Parking via Parking Panda, accessed in advance from the Festival website.

 

Saturday, May 30:

10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.               Treme Brass Band

12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.               P&J Oyster Shucking Contest

1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.                     Colin Lake

2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.                     Bucktown All-Stars

3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.                     Corey Henry's Treme Funktet

5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.                     Royal Southern Brotherhood

 

Sunday, May 31:

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.               One A Chord Gospel Choir

11:45 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.                  Acme Oyster Eating Contest

1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.                     The Mulligan Brothers

3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.                     Rockin' Dopsie

5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.                     Marcia Ball

 

 

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