Fresh, local

John Endorf, left, of Portland, Ore., feeds his daughter Madison a fresh, local oyster during a past Crystal Coast Oyster Fest on the Morehead City waterfront. The event returns this year from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30. (Dylan Ray photo)

The fourth annual Crystal Coast Oyster Festival is returning to the Morehead City waterfront after last September’s Hurricane Florence caused organizers to cancel the event.

“We are so excited, pumped,” event organizer Russell Lewis said. “We put a lot of effort into hosting the events and securing the oyster farms in attendance. I do a fair (amount) of event planning throughout the year, but this is by far my favorite.”

The Crystal Coast Oyster Festival is from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, will be set up under tents, and held rain or shine.

The September 2018 storm left oyster farmers devastated, and this year’s event will focus on raising awareness of the hardships farmers go through.

“Between the storm surge and winds and all of that, and rain as well, it had a destructive effect,” Mr. Lewis said of Florence. “People lost a lot of oysters, they lost a lot of equipment.

“Oyster farming is hard work. They put in a lot of hours. It takes investment. The thing about this festival, these aren’t big organizations with hundred-acre farms…these are small, individually owned operations. When you have a once-in-a-lifetime-style storm come through your area and lay this huge amount of damage on it, it makes it hard to recover,” he continued.

During the festival, around 10 oyster famers will be on site sharing knowledge about their products.

In the VIP area, ticketholders will be able to get a closer view of the oysters.

“That’s kind of the cool thing about the VIP ticket, it allows you into that area where they are set up and you can sample different oysters from different farms,” he said.

Mr. Lewis noted the focal point of the Crystal Coast Oyster Festival is to raise awareness and create outreach for and among oyster farmers. A portion of the proceeds from general admission sales will go to the Shellfish Growers Association.  

Mr. Lewis said the organization is also working on creating a grant for oyster farmers to apply for funds to pay for damage that wasn’t covered by storm insurance.

Those who attend the festival will be able to enjoy live music from Chairmen of the Board from 2-5 p.m.

Those who purchase VIP tickets will be able to meet and greet the oyster farmers, sample all North Carolina-grown oysters, enjoy a private waterfront deck area, a VIP liquor bar, private bathrooms and more.

The VIP tickets are $35 per ticket during early purchase. During the event, VIP tickets will be $40, but Mr. Lewis said they have typically sold out in previous years.

General admission tickets are $5, with proceeds going to the grant.

Those who purchase general admission tickets will be able to enjoy the concert, as well as food trucks serving oyster-inspired dishes.

There will also be fried and steamed oysters available during the event.

To purchase tickets for the Crystal Coast Oyster Festival, visit ccoysterfest.org.

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