Little Bitte at Ocean State Oyster Festival 9/17!

Photo by Stephanie Ewens

Sample From 18 Oyster Farms at the Ocean State Oyster Festival

Providence is gearing up to celebrate Rhode Island aquaculture at the second annual event on September 17.

Oyster lovers, get ready to pack on the pounds in shellfish. Providence is gearing up for its second annual Ocean State Oyster Festival at Riverwalk Park on South Water Street on Sept. 17 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The day includes all the briny bivalves you can eat, food trucks and other food vendors, live music, local libations and a shucking contest. The day will be divided into early and later sessions from 11 a.m.−4 p.m. and from 4−9 p.m., to help spread out the crowds.

Eighteen oyster farms from all over Rhode Island are participating, and you get to sample from as many (or as few) as you wish. The $25 tickets (or $30 on the day of) include six oysters and one free beverage (wine, beer, a cocktail or non-alcoholic drink). You can purchase additional oyster tickets for $2 each, alcoholic drinks for $5 each and non-alcoholic drinks for $2 each.

Last year’s festival was very successful and the group of organizers, including Don Nguyen, Frank Mullin, Kaitlyn Frolich and Dave Roebuck, plans to keep the momentum going. “Part of the emphasis on what we did last year was paying attention to the flow of the place and the layout of it,” says Frank Mullin, the Ocean State Oyster Festival’s event programming and communications manager. “We like how we had the tent set up, and the spine model of the farms down the middle worked out really well. We realized it was the best spot for it and the weather was perfect.”

Photo by Stephanie Ewens.

While sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted guests last year, just in case, everything is located under a tent, so the event is on, rain or shine.

Participating local oyster farms include Walrus and Carpenter Oyster Farm, Behan Family Farm, Quonnie Cup Oysters, Salt Water Farms and American Mussel Harvesters, Block Island Oyster Farm, Chessawanock Island Oyster Company, East Bay Oysters, Bristol Bay Oysters, Jonathan Island Oyster Co., Matunuck Oyster Farm, Mooresfield Oyster Farm, Salt Pond Oysters, Watch Hill Oysters, Hope Island Oysters, Breachway Oyster Company, Rocky Rhode Oyster and the Ocean State Shellfish Co-op‘s Rome Point and Jamestown Oysters.

Local beverage vendors include Revival Brewing Company and Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, Jonathan Edwards Winery, Farmer Willie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer and Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails teams up with Campus Fine Wines. Non-alcoholic drinks will be provided by Yacht Club Soda and Granny Squibb’s iced tea for $2 each.

There will also be other food options available for those who are just not that into shellfish. “The Shuckin’ Truck will be there with lobster rolls and such, but there will also be Citizen Wing, Flatbread Company is going to do their wood-fired grill pizza trailer and Laughing Gorilla catering will also be there, so it won’t be just all oysters,” Mullin says.

A portion of ticket sales will be directed to Save the Bay’s afterschool programs as well as the Ocean State Aquaculture Association. The bivalves will be served on compostable trays and shells will be collected for conservation efforts. The Compost Plant plans to truck away compostable waste. “We are still going for that net zero status,” says Mullin.

Celebrating Rhode Island aquaculture is important to this group of event planners. “Oyster Farms are representative of the state and the health of the bay. Food tourism and ecotourism in Rhode Island is key,” Mullin says. “It all goes hand-in-hand with a cleaner bay. The bay is still not in the condition it was back in the old days  – before the industrial revolution –  but it’s working its way back, which is a fantastic sign.”

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