Pemaquid Oyster Festival continues tradition of fundraising Sept. 30

Posted:  Saturday, September 22, 2018 - 8:45am
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The Pemaquid Oyster Festival has always been known as a rollicking celebration of the working waterfront, with traditions of music, boat rides, an oyster shucking championship, and thousands of oysters fresh from the Damariscotta River. Yet there is another tradition not as well-known, a tradition of fundraising that over the years has contributed over $136,000 to local marine conservation and education efforts.

When the gates open at noon on Sunday, Sept. 30 for the 2018 Pemaquid Oyster Festival, event organizers hope to raise enough money to bring that total amount up to over $150,000.

The Pemaquid Oyster Festival is the primary fundraiser for the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund. The fund is named after Edward Myers, a Walpole resident who pioneered aquaculture in the Damariscotta River and many other areas.

"This fund is intended to continue Edward Myers’ vision of having a sustainable working waterfront as well as protecting our marine environment; implemented through education and research projects with a focus on marine conservation," said Chris Davis of the Pemaquid Oyster Company, a hosting sponsor of the event.

Entry to the Pemaquid Oyster Festival is free of charge. Money raised through oyster, food and beverage sales during the festival goes to benefit the fund. Expenses for the event are covered by sponsors so that all of the money raised goes directly to the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund.

This year those sponsors include Renys, Ames Supply, Mine Oyster, First Advisors, the Cheney Companies, DB&T, Colby & Gale, Mexicali Blues, Narragansett Leathers, Marshall Wharf Brewing Co., Waldo Stone Farm, Laura Cabot Catering, The Lincoln County News, Yankee Pride Transportation, Damariscotta River Cruises, PFG North Center, Eastern Traders, and Shuck Station.

Since the first Pemaquid Oyster Festival in 2001 the event has been hosted by the Pemaquid Oyster Co. and Schooner Landing. Both of these hosts contribute all of their profits from the day to the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund.

The 2017 Pemaquid Oyster Festival benefited the Gulf of Maine Foundation/Darling Marine Center, South Bristol School, Damariscotta River Association, Great Salt Bay School, Lincoln Academy, Carpenter's Boat Shop, Pemaquid Watershed Association, the Watershed School, and the Town of Damariscotta (public restrooms). Grants are awarded in the range of $1000 to $2000 by the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund Grant Committee. The 2018 grants will be announced at 2 p.m. during Pemaquid Oyster Festival, just before the Maine Champion Oyster Shucking Contest that begins at 2:45 p.m.

Great entertainment and plenty of tasty oysters will, of course, be featured at the Pemaquid Oyster Festival, along with educational exhibits that highlight Maine’s working waterfront and the variety of recreational and commercial activities that revolve around it.

Education at the Pemquid Oyster Festival will also include boat trips to the aquaculture leases on the Damariscotta River, where some of the finest oysters in the world are raised. The boat trips will leave every hour beginning at 11 a.m. from the town dock, then switching over to Schooner Landing Marina with hourly trips beginning at 1 p.m. and continuing until 4 p.m. aboard Teciani “the River Tripper”, a large comfortable vessel provided by Damariscotta River Cruises. Fares for the cruises will be $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12-years-old. The fare will include a donation to the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund. Passengers aboard the boat will enjoy refreshments at an additional cost.

The festival stage will provide entertainment throughout the day with a line-up of favorite local bands. Both the performance stage and the exhibit area are covered with a tent sponsored by Renys, so the Pemaquid Oyster Festival will go on rain or shine.

Of course, the big star of the Pemaquid Oyster Festival will be the oysters. Last year over 14,000 oysters were served at the festival. This year the Pemaquid Oyster Co. will have over 15,000 oysters on stand by and a corps of volunteer oyster shuckers to maintain a constant flow of freshly shucked oysters to the crowd.

Oysters are served in a tempting variety of choices: fresh on the half shell, broiled, stewed, and baked as Oysters Rockefeller. All oyster choices are sold individually, so festival attendees can fill their plates with as many selections as they like. Steamed mussels with also be available for the first time this year.

There will also be a gourmet selection of oyster toppings provided by WaldoStone Farm in collaboration with Schooner Landing. WaldoStone Farm, based in Montville, markets their own line of gourmet foods.

For those who may not be oyster fans, more menu items will also be available from the Schooner Landing kitchen.

Volunteers are still being sought to fill a variety of positions for the Pemaquid Oyster Festival. Some of the activities volunteers will be needed for include: stage management, festival set-up and take-down, boat deck hand, boat ride gate management, oyster shucking, general assistance on the food line, and contest management.

For more information on volunteer work, please contact Greg Latimer at 207-380-9912 or greglatimer@yahoo.com.

The fun begins at noon on Sunday, September 30 and continues until dusk at Schooner Landing located on Main Street next to the Newcastle/Damariscotta Bridge in Damariscotta. From either north or southbound Route 1, exit in Damariscotta at Business Route 1. For additional directions, contact Schooner Landing at 207-563-7447.