What’s better than New Orleans music and food? Why, if you were just visiting the city, you might think that that’s all we do—eat, drink and enjoy music and good times. And hell, you’d be right!
To celebrate the lowly yet luscious bivalves that New Orleanians treasure so much, you should take a hint from festival visitors and head on down this weekend to the New Orleans Oyster Festival at Woldenberg Park overlooking the Mississippi River. Over 20 restaurants will participate and offer up their versions of oyster dishes—broiled, raw, souped, creamed, almondined, fried, smoked, char-grilled and otherwise—along with other local delicacies that aren’t oyster-centric for those poor fools who are not Erster Lovers, like Crawfish Cheesecake (Elizabeth’s); Duck & Lamb Meatballs w/sweet potato grits (Café Reconcile), Shrimp Remoulade (Galatoire’s); Key Lime Pie and Eclairs (Haydel’s Bakery), and more. Something for everyone.
It wouldn’t be a local festival without music, and the Oyster Fest includes a stage of bands that will include everything from the Stooges Brass Band to the Gin Blossoms, with music from 10:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The schedule is here.
The New Orleans Oyster Fest was initiated by movers and shakers in the oyster fishing and farming business who wanted to let consumers know that fresh oysters are still good in months that don’t contain an “r” (that’s May through August, if you haven’t figured it out). The festival also includes a number of oyster contests including the Acme Oyster House Oyster Eating Contest on June 2. In 2010, competitive eater Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas set a record of consuming 47 dozen oysters in only eight, that’s right, eight minutes—a full dozen more in two minutes less than the record she set in 2005.
There’s also judging for the largest oyster from Louisiana Oyster Farms, and a shucking contest to see who can shuck the cleanest and most appetizing oyster in under two minutes. Last year the winner was Gus Marshall of Desire Seafood & Oyster Bar at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, who shucked 18 oysters in the first round, and 13 more oysters in 1.5 minutes. Whole lotta shuckin’ goin’ on! All contests are held on June 2 in the Cultural Tent.
The New Orleans Oyster Fest has free admission for all, but oyster and food delicacies are sold by vendors, cash only please.2013 New Orleans Oyster Festival
Date: June 1 – 2
Time: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Location: Woldenberg Park
1 Canal Place (map)
Admission: FREE, bring cash for food fare