There’s a renaissance underway in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s not just the delicious, repopulating rockfish. Oysters are everywhere these days, and while they’re no longer confined to “R” months, we’re finally in prime season for wild, salty-sweet ‘sters. This October, make Maryland your oyster and get your shuck on at these seven half-shell happenings.
MERMAID KISS OYSTER FEST
10/6: National Aquarium. 6 p.m. $95-170. Join the Oyster Recovery Partnership to support local oyster restoration and the health of the Chesapeake at its fifth annual party, full of food, music, and drinks on the Inner Harbor.
ROCK HALL FALL FEST
10/10: Main St., Rock Hall. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. In this waterfront whistle-stop on the Eastern Shore, mingle with local watermen while you enjoy fresh-caught seafood, a New Orleans-style parade, and live blues and bluegrass.
10/10-11: Ryleigh’s Oyster, 12-9 p.m. Free-$99. For two full days, celebrate the bay’s bivalves in historic Federal Hill with 10-plus raw bars, live music, and the fourth annual shucking competition to benefit the Oyster Recovery Partnership and Living Classrooms.
U.S. OYSTER FEST
10/17-18: St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds, Leonardtown. Times vary. Free-$5. At the king of all oyster festivals, see the best of the best compete in the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Competition, with tons of food, live music, and local vendors in St. Mary’s County.
BULL & OYSTER ROAST
10/24: Mount Harmon Plantation, Earleville. 5 p.m. $60. Take part in the Land of Pleasant Living tradition of fresh oysters and spicy barbecue at this beautiful, old plantation in Cecil County.
THE GREAT BALTIMORE OYSTER FESTIVAL
10/24: West Shore Park. 1-5 p.m. Free. For the first time, spend an afternoon in the Inner Harbor slurping oysters, sipping beer, and listening to live music by bluegrass bands like Them Eastport Oyster Boys and The High & Wides.
ST. MICHAELS OYSTER FEST
10/31: Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels. 10 a.m. Free-$18. Get your Eastern Shore oyster on with wild shucks, live music, boat rides, retriever demonstrations, and, best of all, a peek inside the museum’s working boatyard.