Nothing says West Coast like a freshly shucked oyster on the half shell and a glass of sparkling white wine.
The seventh annual BC Shellfish Festival, the largest of its kind on the West Coast, is about to get bigger, expanding to 10 days of celebrating all things good from the sea.
It will run from June 6 to 16 in the Comox Valley, the oyster-growing capital of Canada.
Along with the popular chef’s dinner and festival day on the Comox Harbour, new experiences and events have been added to this year’s celebration.
In addition to winery and shellfish pairing events, Fanny Bay Oysters is giving insider looks at the business and science of growing and harvesting shellfish with regular tours of their operation. And Comox Harbour Charters is offering cruises to a deep-water oyster farm in Baynes Sound.
For the active-minded, festival-going shellfish lover, bike tour company Island Joy Rides has put together a special tour dubbed, Love is in the Air … Ride a Bike and Eat Oysters!
This unique weekend getaway June 14 to 16, offers plenty of opportunities to cycle and indulge, and includes all the support needed to explore under one’s own power, while knocking back a few raw oysters along the way.
Eight popular restaurants including Atlas Café, Locals and the Blackfin Pub will put the BC Shellfish Festival on your plate by showcasing local oysters, geoducks, clams and other delectable shellfish on their daily fresh sheets throughout the festival.
“It is a time in the year when we celebrate what the region is renowned for,” says Edd Moyes, owner of the Blackfin Pub.
Local hotels, motels and resorts are also getting in on the shellfish celebration offering Slurp and Stay packages.
“There is so much for people to see and experience, that we want to make it easier for visitors to come and stay and take it all in,” says Linda Bridgman, sales and convention services manager at the Best Western Plus Westerly Hotel.
The Discover Comox Valley website lists the variety of accommodation options with packages ranging from $65 to $129 in addition to a list of events, tours, ideas and inspiration.
Festivities kick off June 6 as expert mixologists converge on the Flying Canoe Pub in downtown Courtenay for the second annual Mott’s Best Caesar in Town Competition, with buck-a-shuck oysters on offer that bring the bounty of the ocean inside.
The sold-out main event opens June 14 with the Chef’s Dinner at the historic Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park.
This year’s event pairs William Tse of Vancouver’s Sandbar Restaurant; Jonathan Frazier of Atlas Café; Takashi Ito of Inn at Laurel Point; and other talented chefs with B.C. shellfish growers, resulting in culinary creations that will send guests into rapture.
June 15 is festival day at the Comox Marina Park and it’s jam-packed with innovative tastings and shellfish shenanigans. Concession booths and beer gardens open for business at noon, followed by cooking demonstrations at 12:15 p.m. on the Gazebo Stage. Next up is the Comox Valley Chowder Challenge, before the festival reaches its raucous conclusion with the Fanny Bay Oysters BC Oyster Shucking Championships.
“We’re seeing great community support rally around this festival since it’s inception in 2007,” says Matthew Wright, executive director of the BC Shellfish Festival. “And the festival has brought the sea-to-table excitement of shellfish to a growing numbers of oyster aficionados and other shellfish lovers anxious to learn more about why the Comox Valley is quickly emerging as a top shelf culinary destination.”
As this festival has grown and become an integral part of the Comox Valley’s tourism mix, so too has the prominence of the shellfish industry.
Oysters, clams and other shellfish contribute greatly to the Comox Valley’s deepening reputation as a culinary destination worthy of an extended visit, with its award-winning local wineries, diverse farming community and rich offering of dining establishments. The shellfish industry contributes more than $28 million to the region and helps support an estimated 600 families.
For more information on the shellfish festival events and to buy tickets or book packages, visit www.discovercomoxvalley.com or call the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre at 1-855-400-2882.
— Discover Comox Valley