Organizers pull out all the stops for 50th anniversary oyster festival

Eric McCarthy
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TYNE VALLEY -- This year’s Tyne Valley Oyster Festival is so special that organizers have been planning for it since November, 2012.
That’s when the idea came about to add a Rock the Boat Music Festival into the event in celebration of the Oyster Festival’s fiftieth anniversary this year.

A finalist from a previous Canadian Oyster Shucking ch'ship

Rock the Boat takes place this Saturday at Green Park in Port Hill. Gates open at 2 p.m. and music starts at 3 p.m. Blue Rodeo will bring Rock the Boat to a close with a 9:15 to 10:45 p.m. performance.

“We’re real proud of the work we’ve done in bringing people to this area, and we want to show everybody that  a little place like Tyne Valley can put on an event like this” said Oyster Festival president Jeff Noye. He said committee members have put in a “crazy amount of work” in organizing this year’s special anniversary festival.

Rock the Boat is not just an anniversary year event, Noye insists. Planning for next year’s music event is already well underway.

The oyster festival gets underway Wednesday evening at the Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre with the Moosehead P.E.I. trivia championship.

Official opening of the festival is set for Thursday. Other events that evening are the initial portions of the Miss Oyster Pearl Pageant and an attempt to set a new world record for the most oysters opened in one hour. Personalities from Just Passing Through will emcee the shucking challenge.

Of course, one of the festival’s mainstays is the Canadian Oyster Shucking Championship. It goes Friday night. Noye said he’s expecting the biggest turn-out of competitors ever.

“This is the big one,” he said. “This is the one that everybody circles on their calendar a year in advance kind of thing. Everybody wants to attend this one.”

The current Irish and world champion shucker, he said, is even coming to Tyne Valley. “He just wants to come to see it; he’s heard so much about what we do,” Noye added.

Entertainment during the pub-style event will be provided by Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, one of the featured acts for Saturday’s Rock the Boat.

Other events on Friday include Kids Day, fried oyster and scallop suppers and the official launch of Dustin Milligan’s new book, The Village that Loves Oysters.

The community parade moves to 11 a.m Saturday to leave lots of time for music lovers to make it to Green Park for when the gates to Rock the Boat open at 2 pm.

Noye said organizers anticipate up to 6,000 fans for the music festival. Tickets are still being sold.

The Oyster Festival wraps up on Sunday with a morning ecumenical service, a singing contest at 2 p.m. and community awards and the crowning of Miss Oyster Pearl around 4:30 p.m.

 

Organizations: Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre

Geographic location: Green Park, Tyne Valley, Port Hill

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