Meet The Partners of Shuckapalooza!
Rock this oyster party! The Shuckapalooza ticket is your backstage pass to the hottest new oyster scene. This self-guided driving tour event gives you celebrity access to private oyster farms, harvest methods, ecology with a real-life waterman, samplings of oysters, plus wine and beer pairings. You’ll feel smarter when you leave this insanely intimate event with our awesome partner, Friends of the Rappahannock.
Friends of the Rappahannock at The Tides
The ‘Shucking’ Sanctuary
Join the Friends of the Rappahannock for an educational oyster restoration experience on one of the seven stops of Shuckapalooza, April 12th. These guys will be there to tell their story of river restoration and how you can help clean our waters from headwaters to where the Rappahannock meets the bay.
Friends of the Rappahannock Captain Richard Moncure will be your river steward for the “Shucking” Sanctuary of the Shuckapalooza event. Captain Moncure spends his days advocating for the river and educating people about the ecological challenges faced by its inhabitants. He is passionate about his job and says, “Oysters are natural filters for the River. Each bivalve can filter over 50 gallons of a water day, cleaning the water as they grow. Shuckapalooza is a rare opportunity to for hands on learning about this process and why it is important.”
Photo Courtesy of the VCU Rice Rivers Center
The Ellery Kellum Sanctuary, a short boat ride from the Tides Resort in Irvington, VA, is where you will learn much about the struggle of the native Virginia Oyster and restoration efforts to rebuild the bivalve and the river to its past glory.With help from the VCU Rice Rivers Center providing recycled oyster shells from restaurants a living sanctuary is being established. Visitors will be a part of that process on April 12th. After your boat trip, join the Chef at the Tides Inn to taste fried oysters done the right way.
We will see you Tides dockside for this once in a lifetime oyster experience!
The initiative led by Will Smiley has enabled Christchurch School students launch and maintain an ambitious oyster recovery program that is improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. “The river and bay are living classrooms where we learn about the geography, ecology, economy, history and culture of our region through hands-on exploration. The river is an ever-present reminder of our responsibility to the natural environment.”
Using money raised by recycling aluminum cans, students cultivated an oyster reef at the school’s waterfront. Christchurch also helped Restore Urbanna Creek, a local conservation organization. To date, students have recycled more than five million cans and planted more than one million oysters – that translates to 50 million gallons of clean water flowing into the Chesapeake Bay every day.
This Oyster 101 stop will enrich you with plentiful information on the process of growing oysters from seed and the ecology and geography of the region!
Rappahannock River Oyster Co.
Babies & Beer
The Rappahannock River Oyster Co. has been a part of local oyster history since 1899 when Ryan and Travis Croxton’s grandfather founded an oyster business on the Rappahannock River. More than a century later, the cousins are back at the oyster business and are mainly responsible for sparking the growth of oyster farming in Virginia’s River Realm. Attendees will be able to tour the farm operation and see what it takes to get the oyster babies from seed to table and taste one of their amazing Rappahannocks.
Patrick Oliver, RROC’s farm director, will be your host and guide as he explains the farm process from start to finish. He earned his BS in environmental science and hatchery and uses his knowledge to fine tune the shape, taste and texture of the end product, the RROC oyster.
A natural partner on the farm tour located a few steps from the Rappahannock River Oyster Company, Merroir is consistently rated as the best restaurant in Virginia. Included in our farm tour; attendees will taste a locally grown oyster along with a tasting of the Chesapeake Oyster Stout poured from Merroirs deadrise bar. Developed by Flying Dog Brewery, the English style bold flavored stout is washed over Rappahannock River oyster shells for that salty bay flavor. Drinking the Stout actually helps clean the bay since part of the profits go to the Oyster Recovery Partnership, an oyster shell recovery program.
Urbanna Seafood and Raw Bar
Tools of the Trade
A hidden gem of Urbanna. Rufus Ruark Jr. has commercial fishing in his blood from all sides of his family and is the owner of Shores and Ruark Seafood Co. A true salty waterman, full of endless information and tales of ‘Waterman’s Heritage’.
On this stop, tour the shucking house, aqua farm, view the soft shell crab shedding floats to learn how oyster shells are recycled and view a small Oyster vessel for a short lecture on the tools of the oyster industry from a native Rappahannock River waterman!
Watch a hands-on oyster shucking demo on how to pry those little river treasures open, and of course, taste samples of raw oysters on the half shell – fresh from the Rappahannock River! Bring your cooler and take home fresh seafood from the Urbanna Seafood Market. Stay for lunch and enjoy a craft brew or a glass of wine with the majestic views of the river and the cool breeze of the salty air!
The Dog and Oyster Vineyard
East vs West ‘Shuckdown’
The East Coast versus West Coast will be the pairing challenge at The Dog and Oyster Vineyard for the Shuckapalooza event.
Both wine and oysters take the tastes of where they are grown and at this stop, guests will be the judge for choosing the pairing winners between oysters and wine from Virginia’s River Realm and oysters and wine from Chatham’s Vineyard on the Eastern shore.
SLURP is the outdoor café at the Dog and Oyster vineyard, operated by Chef Stuart Tyson who spent his childhood summers in Deltaville sailing, fishing and crabbing on Fishing Bay. The restaurant features raw and roasted oysters along with fried oysters and softshell crabs when in season. The restaurant will be open for lunch if guests want to enjoy more tasty bivalves and vino after they have voted for the best pairing. Sip. Slurp. Savor.
Willaby’s & Miss Mary Seafood
This is how we do it ya’ll! Willaby’s has been a local favorite since 1992 and this riverfront restaurant has, hands-down, one of the prettiest sunsets in Virginia’s River Realm. Chef William Barnhart knows a thing or two about local seafood and how it pairs well with great beer and good music.
Join Chef Barnhart on Willaby’s beach as he creates a fire pit oyster roast, familiar to him from many gatherings with family and friends. On April 12th he will share his knowledge of roasting oysters on the beach or in your backyard. Special guests will include Lisa Rose from Miss Mary Seafood and waterman Tony Ferguson will give guests a harvest demonstration and talk about a waterman’s life on the Chesapeake Bay.
Plan on staying for lunch or dinner and you will not be disappointed. Using his grandmother’s recipe, Chef Barnhart uses a touch of sherry and a special cooking method for the oysters to make his stew quite amazing. The Willaby’s Chef creates incredible dishes with local oysters, crabs and fish, often using the freshest oysters, fish and crabs available from Miss Mary’s seafood.
HPP of Virginia
Want to see the latest technology at work in Virginia’s River Realm? Never want to open an oyster again? This stop will show you a state-of-the art pressurizing machine that does an amazing job of opening oysters without even using a knife! The machine forces the bivalves to release their abductor muscles with the end result being a preshucked no hassle oyster that is ready to be slurped. The process leaves the oyster plumped in its own brine, natural, delicious and disconnected from the shell. Taste for yourself during Shuckapalooza and take some home or order online, completely shucked or in the shell shucked.
In addition, at this stop on the Shuckapalooza tour you will see an Oyster Eco Reef Module (OERM). This engineered concrete reef is designed to accelerate oyster growth while providing a haven for native habitat growth and serves as a nutrient reduction solution to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay’s waters.