Ruth Smith, three-time National Oyster-Shucking Champion - October 18, 1981. Photo: Official Rotary Archives
St. Mary's Oyster Festival
(Leonardtown, St. Mary's County)
Now in its 34th year, the St. Mary's County Oyster
Festival was born in 1967 when the Lexington Park Rotary Club was
looking for a community project to involve its entire membership.
In addition, its objectives were to promote a weekend of fun, food,
and fellowship for visitors; to attract visitors to St. Mary's
County; and to provide funds for the charities of various local
service and civic organizations. Attendance on October 7, 1967, was
just under 1,000, but has grown to over 20,000, aided by adding a
second day to the festival in 1974. Over 80% of the visitors are
now from out of the area. More than 150,000 oysters (and 70 kegs of
beer) are consumed.
Now held the third weekend in October, oysters are
still the main draw--fried, stewed, scalded and "nude"--but other
regional foodstuffs have been added, including renowned Maryland
crabcakes and soup, clam chowder, shrimp, fish sandwiches, locally
famous St. Mary's County stuffed ham, barbecued beer, chicken and
pork and even Polish sausage.
Highlights of the two-day festival are the National
Oyster Shucking Championship Contest and National Oyster Cook-Off,
where contestants compete to produce the best-tasting oyster dish
in four categories: hors d'oeuvres, soups & stews, outdoor
cookery & salads, and main dishes. The cook-off has become so
popular that now 350 recipes are received from 30 states.
Non-stop entertainment features "Kid's Korner," with
its carnival games and rides, roving clown show, pony rides, free
balloons and face-painting. For adults, three buildings are devoted
to displaying and selling local arts and crafts, and live
music--jazz, pop, and country--is provided at three locations on
the festival grounds. An additional attraction are educational
exhibits of old farm and watermen's implements, evoking a time when
locals made their living working the waters of the Chesapeake Bay
and its tributaries.
The project is documented with ten 8 x 10
black-and-white photographs, a eight-page written report, event
programs, informational brochures, flyers, newspaper articles, and
a video of the St. Mary's Oyster Festival.
Originally submitted by: Steny H. Hoyer, Representative (5th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.