The perfect recipe for a party: A pristine beach, several celebrity chefs cooking up their finest food, and 40,000 Island Creek Oysters.
The fourth Island Creek Oyster Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 12, from 3-11 p.m. on Duxbury Beach. Although the festival is only a few years old, it has grown exponentially since its inception.
The event used to take place in the spring, according to Island Creekâ€™s Shore Gregory.
â€œIt was a way to bless the summer harvest,â€ Gregory said. â€œIt really kind of grew from there.â€
This is the second year the proceeds will go towards the Island Creek Foundation. Before, money went directly to local charities. The foundation was a way to help expand the companyâ€™s philanthropy beyond Duxburyâ€™s borders.
â€œWe realized it was a really great vehicle to be able to raise a lot of money for charity,â€ Gregory said.
At this yearâ€™s festival, over 3,000 people are expected, more than double last yearâ€™s figures. And a whopping 40,000 oysters will be donated by the growers of Island Creek and shucked by volunteers on a 40-foot raw bar.
But the event isnâ€™t just about oysters. The day will begin with a family friendly â€œkid zone.â€ (Kids under 12 can get in to the event free.)
â€œItâ€™s encouraging kids to learn about the beach, and learn about oysters and sand dunes â€“ itâ€™s really hands on,â€ said Erin Murphy, who works as a farm hand for Skip Bennett.
At 6 p.m., the celebrity chefs in attendance â€“â€“ including Jasper White, Jody Adams and more â€“â€“ will start preparing a host of tasty seafood dishes. If attendees are more land-inclined in their tastes, Island Creek has also been raising two pigs on a farm in Duxbury for the festival. Fattening on French Memories pastries, Murphy said, they are getting ready for the big cookout.
â€œIt is a small community, oyster farming,â€ said Murphy. â€œThis is one of those events that you can really get the community together.â€
As the festival expands, there are a few new items this year. Last yearâ€™s highlight was an oyster â€œslurpingâ€ contest, this year there will be a professional oyster shucking contest. Also, the festival is making an effort to be more environmentally friendly, Murphy said.
In addition to working with Sustainable Duxbury to recycle as much as possible from the event, the oyster shells will also be reused for a project in New Hampshire.
â€œWe decided to make our carbon footprint as small as we could,â€ said Murphy.
Proceeds from the festival make their way to charities, many of them local. In the past, the Duxbury Bay Maritime School and Crossroads for Kids have benefitted.
Although the local connection will remain, this year Island Creek is setting their sights halfway around the world to Zanzibar, an island off the cost of Madagascar.
There, Island Creek is funding a project in conjunction with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to create sustainable aquaculture in Zanzibar.
â€œIt ended up being a perfect match,â€ Gregory said of the partnership.
The oyster bed in Zanzibar will create food for the natives, as well as supplement their income. In a country where the average yearly income is around $300, Gregory said, the oyster bed could do a lot of good. Island Creek farmers will be heading to Africa to help out directly later this fall.
â€œI think to do something like this, where youâ€™re going to make a difference on a large scale, is something everybody can feel good about,â€ said Gregory.
The Island Creek Oyster Festival has something for everyone: food, music, fun, and of course â€“â€“ oysters.
â€œItâ€™s a great way to celebrate the end of whatâ€™s a great season around town, to bring a little bit of our world to Duxbury,â€ said Gregory.