Damariscotta Oyster Celebration coming mid-June

An open house to the oyster world
Posted:  Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 7:00am
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The first ever Damariscotta Oyster Celebration is coming to Boothbay Harbor and Damariscotta. The three-day event kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 14 with a competition at Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort.

The International Oyster Chef of the Year Competition will feature seven chefs from five states and two Canadian provinces.

Local chef Nathaniel Adam from the Boothbay Harbor Country Club will compete. And Food Network Magazine’s vice president of digital culinary content Michelle Buffardi, who will cover the oyster celebration, is one of the judges for the competition.

Rory Strunk, chief executive officer of O’Maine Studios in Portland, is the brains behind the oyster celebration, the first of its kind. “The oyster product is trending in the right direction and now is the time to push the Damariscotta oyster story to a national level,” Strunk said. “The idea behind the Damariscotta Oyster Celebration is to grow the brand and market influence of Damariscotta River Oysters to a national scale.”

Strunk said his goal is to “market the region as the Napa Valley of oysters” by creating an event that promotes the history, science resources, the oyster farmers and their aquaculture products, and promotes tourism in the area.

Following the opening event at Oceanside, on Friday, June 15 is a behind the scenes look at the Damariscotta oyster farms. The "Tour de Source" will include meeting the farmers, seeing their farms, and feasting on oysters and other local foods. At the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Director Dr. Heather Leslie will host a talk about the past, present and future of Maine’s oyster industry.

On Friday night, chefs from the Damariscotta region will showcase local food and flavors at a dinner: Taste Maine’s Future at Round Top Farm. The dinner will feature five chefs and five Maine courses.

The celebration culminates on Saturday, June 16, with oyster shuckers from top restaurants in the U.S. and Canada competing for the ‘Can-Am Shuck Star’ award. The competition take place in downtown Damariscotta, with the celebration including more oyster-tasting, beverage pairings, and music.

The National Oyster Shucking Champion of Canada, Eamon Clark of Rodney’s Oyster House in Toronto will compete against 24 other shuckers, including Jimmy Donnell and 2018 Boston International Seafood Show winner Mamaduo Diallo from the Union Oyster House in Boston.

The Damariscotta Oyster Celebration was planned in partnership with seven local oyster farms and several local businesses. Strunk said the event is essentially an open house to the Oyster World.

“The goal is to attract the leading seafood buyers, restaurants, chefs and media influencers to see firsthand the amazing aquaculture resource of the Damariscotta river and experience the hospitality of the Midcoast Maine region.”

Proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorship will be used to take the Damariscotta oyster farmers on sales trips to markets in the U.S. and Canada, a portion of the Taste Maine’s Future dinner will be donated to the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center.

Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort is the lead sponsor/founding and major funding partner of the celebration.

Tickets for the oyster chef competition are still available.