Hundreds of people descended on the Arcata creamery district to spend the day after returning from the local oyster festival.
The annual event has made a full comeback after two years of alternate formats due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event took place in a field a few blocks west of downtown Arcata Plaza and featured more than 50 vendors, with oyster stands offering raw and grilled produce as the main draw. This year’s event ran from Thursday to Saturday, with the final day drawing the biggest crowds.
Shoshanna Anthony is the event organizer at Arcata Main Street, the group responsible for hosting the event. She welcomed the long-awaited return of the full festival after two difficult years.
“It’s definitely bigger than the virtual year (in 2020) and last year’s modified event,” she said. “This year it’s kind of gone back to a bigger event because it’s been very difficult to bring the most important things back to our community, but it’s great to have people volunteering and helping out. to get there. We are so excited to be here and to have people having fun.
Attendees were able to sample oysters from local vendors and restaurants as well as cold beers and vintages from local breweries and wineries. The kiosks offered raw and grilled oysters, with special house sauces on the cooked options.
North Bay Shellfish founder Scott Sterner attended the event. His son Kyle now runs the family business in McKinleyville, but the event remains the biggest live feature of the year for oyster farmers, both in terms of sales and community outreach.
“The public is starting to be aware of oyster farming and what we do. It’s important that they know there are many local oyster farms and how important that is to the economy,” he said.
The North Bay stand offered small Pacifics, with two new sauce options for grilled oysters. A few steps further, the Japanese kitchen Obento offered kaki-furai, a breaded oyster in a panko breadcrumb crust.
Arcata Plaza’s Nori Sushi made its Oyster Festival debut this year, offering a creamy sea salt and chipotle topping for its oysters. Owner Joe Tan has attended the event before, but was thrilled to have his company attend this year.
“People drink, eat. It’s fun and there’s music. That’s what I like,” he said as he opened oysters for growth lines at the stand.
People who weren’t in the mood for shellfish also had options. Wess Vega of Rax on Rax offered his southern style chicken wings and sides. Although he didn’t offer oysters this year, he was happy to see people enjoying his dishes.
“Everybody’s been super cool, man. We are grateful and a pleasure to be able to serve the community in this way,” he said.
The event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Arcata Main Street, allowing the group to hold numerous events in the town center square for local businesses. With the many vendors, sponsors, around 2,500 pre-sale tickets and same-day ticket sales, Anthony is optimistic about the event’s financial goals.
“I think we will meet our expectations,” she said.
Sterner said that while the Oyster Festival is an extra load on North Bay Shellfish’s duties, as well as other vendors in attendance, it’s a good event to attend.
“It’s a big fundraiser for (Arcata Main Street) and they do a lot of community support stuff. We like to support all of that in the community,” he said.
Mario Cortez can be reached at 707-441-0526.