Shellfish Festival starts Thursday

Interested in learning about the inner workings of a shellfish or geoduck farm?

Interested in learning about the inner workings of a shellfish or geoduck farm?

Perhaps you want to visit local participating restaurants to sample their daily festival fresh sheets. Or maybe tasting fresh shucked oysters on a boat charter in Baynes Sound is more your style.

The expanding 2013 BC Shellfish Festival offers all this and more June 6 to 16 throughout the Comox Valley.

The event calendar is extensive and includes free and ticketed events, tours, and experiences.

• Daily festival opportunities include a full flight wine tasting in the Coastal Black Estate Winery West Coast tasting room. Afterwards, relax on either their covered or open patio with an Oyster Rockefeller and a glass of wine while their chef prepares your personal clam festival pizza.

• Eight of the Comox Valley’s favourite restaurants including Atlas, Avenue, Billy D’s, Bisque, Blackfin Pub, Locals, Martine’s Bistro and Prime Chophouse and Wine Bar are participating in the festivities with daily BC Shellfish Festival on Your Plate fresh sheet specials.

• Evening events include a Motts Best Caesar in Town competition; sip on the sidelines and cheer on local bartenders as they represent their respective establishments in a battle to build the best Caesar, hosted at the Flying Canoe Pub, Best Western Plus, the Westerly Hotel.

• A truly unique experience will happen at the Puntledge Campground — sample amazing shellfish from Pentlatch Seafoods and Fanny Bay Oysters paired with Blue Moon Estate Winery award winning wines. Enjoy clam chowder made by Chef Gaetane Palardy of Island Gourmet Trails and fine artisan chocolates. The event will include live First Nation performances.

• Three unique behind-the-scenes industry tours were offered earlier this week.

Tours included Fanny Bay Oysters, the world-renowned growers, processors, and exporters of farm-raised Pacific oysters and Manila clams. Manatee Holdings provided free hatchery tours that feature industry best sustainable aquaculture practices with a tour including geoduck, sea cucumbers, scallops and oysters.

The Deep Bay Marine Field Station offered interpretive tours of their award-winning facility boasting teaming aquariums and touch tanks.

For those wishing to experience the industry on the water, Comox Harbour Charters offered shellfish tasting or farm tours while participants experienced the natural beauty of Baynes Sound from their 40-foot passenger vessel.

If two wheels is more your style, the Cycle of Love, Shellfish and Cycling Tour, offered by Island Joy Rides, offers a unique weekend to cycle and indulge. Including the bike, the guides, the food, first-rate accommodation at the Old House Hotel and Spa.

Stops and samples with a focus on seafood include chocolate shop, winery, farms and the Comox Valley Farmers Market, and accommodation at the Old House Village Hotel and Spa.

The Festival culminates June 15, at Comox Marina Park for a day of great flavours and local food. Meet the farmers, sample a delectable array of food from the sea from more than 20 participating vendors.

Activities include professional chef cooking demos, the Comox Valley Chowder Challenge, and an intense shucking competition with grand prize trip to PEI for a shot to compete in a national title.

Space is limited for several of these events. For more information and to book your tickets, visit discovercomoxvalley.com or call the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre at 1-855-400-2882.

— BC Shellfish Festival

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