Oyster Festival features wine, beer and culinary creations

By on April 23, 2014
These young brothers were busy shucking and sucking at last year’s Oyster Festival. There are new events this year, all serving oysters in different ways -- along with local wines and beers if you’re old enough. The festival starts Wednesday and runs until Sunday. (Keith Lacey file photo)

These young brothers were busy shucking and sucking at last year’s Oyster Festival. There are new events this year, all serving oysters in different ways — along with local wines and beers if you’re old enough. The festival starts Wednesday and runs until Sunday. (Keith Lacey file photo)

Osoyoos may be a long way from the ocean, but it’s rapidly becoming known as a major oyster destination.

That’s thanks to the Osoyoos Oyster Festival, which runs from April 23 to April 27 at various hotels, resorts, restaurants and wineries in Osoyoos and area.

“Osoyoos has a long tradition with oysters because the local volunteer firefighters always had their oyster feed dinner,” explained Claire Sear, who was contracted by Destination Osoyoos to co-ordinate this year’s festival.

Oysters may not seem like desert food, Sear admits, but actually an oyster festival in the desert makes sense.

“It’s because we have the wine and the oyster farmers wanted a vacation,” she said, adding that Osoyoos has the hotels, restaurants, resorts and wineries to host this kind of event.

While Destination Osoyoos is the chief funding partner, the festival brings together a number of events organized and hosted by other organizations and businesses.

On Wednesday, April 23, Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Winery is holding its Long-Table Dinner.

The following night, on Thursday, Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek is holding “Under the Tuscan Sea” offering pizza and oyster tasting with wine.

On Friday, April 25, the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce is presenting “Oyster, Beer and Beast Bash” a signature event at Spirit Ridge.

This event will feature a “collaborale,” a beer specially brewed in collaboration by South Okanagan breweries. The evening features local craft beer, cider, live entertainment, and of course more oysters – along with meat dishes prepared by talented local chefs.

This event is new this year, said Sear, who added Oliver’s Firehall Brewery and Penticton’s Cannery Brewing and Tin Whistle Brewing are doing the collaboration.

“The brewers will be tapping the cask at 6 p.m. and then guests will each have the opportunity to enjoy a glass of the collaborale crafted to pair perfectly with a special welcome oyster,” Sear said.

On the afternoon of Saturday, April 26, the “Get Shucked” event is being held at Spirit Ridge, featuring freshly shucked West Coast oysters with wine tastings from winning wineries of Canada’s inaugural Oyster Wine Competition held last year.

Then on Saturday evening, the signature event “Art of the Oyster Pearl Gala” is being held at the Watermark Beach Resort.

Guests are invited to dress up as fishermen, mermaids or with pearls and prizes will be handed out for the best-dressed participant.

Various oyster creations will be served featuring the work of chefs from a number of the better South Okanagan restaurants and these will be paired with wines from Oliver and Osoyoos wineries.

West Coast oyster farmers will shuck oysters and stations will feature fishmongers Codfathers and Buy the Sea.

Brianne Hearle, director of marketing with Destination Osoyoos, said she is especially looking forward to the Art of the Oyster Pearl Gala.

“Between pearls and the potential for mermaids and fishermen, I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with,” she said, referring to the costumes.

In its two previous years, Walnut Beach Resort took the lead on the festival, which it created to celebrate oysters and local wines.

With the festival’s growing success, Walnut Beach was unable to continue funding it, so Destination Osoyoos stepped in with funding to save the festival and promote its growth.

“The board of directors at Destination Osoyoos decided that it was a shoulder season event that had a lot of potential to bring people in, particularly in terms of developing the town as a wine and culinary destination,” said Hearle. “That’s why Destination Osoyoos decided to take it on and provide funds to market it.”

DO will continue to be the lead organization, helping it grow in the future, she said.

“We absolutely think it’s got potential to grow,” said Hearle.

For further details about these events, visit: www.oooysterfestival.com.

RICHARD McGUIRE

Osoyoos Times

 

 

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