Save The Bay, Eat An Oyster In Nelson County


Oyster lovers were greeted  Saturday afternoon by billowing cottony clouds rolling across the Blue Ridge mountains near Wintergreen and fears of a rainy washout dissipating in the light breeze. This year, the 2nd Annual Blue Ridge Oyster Festival appeared to be quite successful judging by the numbers of happy picnickers headed in with lawn chairs, children in tow and  lines forming for food and beverages at the Devils Backbone Brewing Company  in Roseland, Virginia.

I’ve never been a big fan of oysters so this was a nice chance for my husband to enjoy a rare treat. Neither of us anticipated how much I was going to like the BBQ’d Mobjack Bay oysters with Rock Barn‘s Andouille sausage, arugula, and Asiago cheese.  Needless to say, they were sold by the half-dozen and first go-around I had three!  The shrimp and sausage grits topped off with scallions and cheddar cheese were worth the fork fight we had and are a must for next year. Ice cold beer on draft washed it down well and cooled us from the warm sun.

Oysters play a key role in helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay by filtering water.  One single oyster can clean up to 60 gallons of water every day. More oysters and oyster reefs are needed which is why they were proudly recycling all the oyster shells from this year’s Blue Ridge Oyster Festival for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s many oyster restoration projects.  All oysters served at the Blue Ridge Oyster Festival were harvested from Ward Oyster Company’s Aquaculture program (Ware Neck, VA)

We never got a chance to try the wine that was released by Cardinal Point and Blenheim wineries as we were headed back into Charlottesville for the Monticello Wine Trail Festival.  The 2011 Chardonnay aged in 100% American Oak  from Cardinal Point was the featured release and the 2011 Red Table wine from Blenheim was a blend of 46% Cabernet Franc, 36% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Blenheim wine that I thought would have paired well with the oysters was the 2011 Rosé a vibrant, fruity but dry rosé made from Mourvedre, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, served chilled.

I wanted a souvenir wine glass but settled for a cool t-shirt. Next year, wine and the glass!

The hustle bustle behind the concession counters kept up with the demand and I loved the lady working the oyster booth with her double strand of pearls smiling her gorgeous smile. She was indeed one of the “pearls ” of the oyster festival. I would have loved to interview her but didn’t dare disrupt the assembly line.

Two Suggestions for 2013:

Restructuring the admission gate to facilitate better flow of the people who purchased tickets online. There was a bit of grousing and one person actually asked the attendant if they weren’t embarrassed to tell people, “If you don’t have a ticket, move to the head of the line”. The line was actually to check bags for outside food and beverages but unfortunately it was to the advantage of non-ticket holders.

Also, is there any way that speakers can be enhanced so that the food concession area can hear the wonderful live music? Picky, picky, but the stage was a bit far from the food area to pick up much volume.  I’m not an engineer and perhaps it is due to sound restrictions? With so many people quietly savouring their meals, I think it would add to the experience.

The commitment to accommodating as many people as possible was evident and look for this event to work out fine details, this was only the second year and they did a great job. Thanks to Cerberus Productions and Devils Backbone Brewing Company for hosting the event and benefitting The Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge and The Chesapeake Bay Foundation. We look forward to next year!

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