More oysters than ever at this year’s oyster fest

There will be more oysters than ever at this year’s Milford Oyster Festival.

With the growing popularity of oysters and the shucking and eating competitions, organizers are increasing the number of oysters this year to 35,000.

“Two years ago we had 20,000 oysters at the festival,” said Jay Pinto, Oyster Festival president. “We are very pleased to see so much interest in the oyster at the festival.”

The festival has again teamed with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association to bring oysters and clams to Milford for Oyster Eve on Aug. 14 and the Milford Oyster Festival on Aug. 15.

The East Coast Shellfish Growers Association represents more than 100 shellfish farms from Maine to Florida and will bring 19 varieties of oysters to the festival from eight eastern states.  With this many oyster varieties, the Milford Oyster Festival is the only festival in the country to offer such a diverse oyster selection, organizers said.

In addition, professional shuckers will be brought in from around the country to shuck oysters and compete in the famous oyster shucking competition. In attendance will be William “Chopper” Young, a four-time U.S. national shucking champion and the only American to win the International Oyster Shucking Championship.

Debra Pratt will be there too. She is a nine-time U.S. women’s oyster shucking champion who represented the U.S. four times at the International Championship. Others include Lisa Bellamy, the 2014 reigning U.S. women’s national oyster shucking champion, and Annie Bonafacio, winner of the U.S. National Shucking Championship. In addition, other shuckers have been featured on Travel Channel’s Man vs Food and are star shuckers at major oyster restaurants around the country.

“The festival and City of Milford are very fortunate to have such a tremendous connection with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association,” said Pinto. “This oyster connection and the other attractions of the festival has Milford on the map as a major destination point for tourists and other visitors in August and throughout the year.”

The festivities begin at Oyster Eve on Aug. 14 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Lisman Landing. Along with oysters, clams, food, premium beer, wine and sunset schooner cruises, the event will include Jimmy and the Parrots, a well-known Jimmy Buffett cover band. There is a $5 cover and no coolers are allowed.

The Oyster Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 15 with free admission and free shuttle buses. In addition to the arts and crafts, Big Toys Area, amusement rides and other attractions, three national acts will headline the main stage: The Rembrandts, Fastball and Gin Blossoms. Jimmy and the Parrots will be back on the Harbor Stage in Lisman Landing.

Festival details are at or on Facebook.