LEONARDTOWN, Md. – The St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds have been the home of the U.S. Oyster Festival for the last 53 years, hosting oyster lovers and competitors from all over the country for two days each year. 

This year’s festival happened last weekend, October 15th and 16th, 2022. 

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, part of the festival’s proceeds go to directly help the community through organizations such as Feed St. Mary’s, the Three Oaks Center, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention of Maryland, and many more. 

In 2019, the proceeds allowed the Club to initiate a new Food Bank for the county. Due to this, Feed St. Mary’s Food Bank is now an independent, stand-alone nonprofit corporation.

Saturday kicked off with the 42nd Annual Oyster Cook-Off, beginning with an hors d’oeuvre preparation competition at 10 a.m. and continuing until 1:30 p.m. with soup/stew and main dish competitions. 

Ronna Farley of Rockville took first place in the hors d’oeuvre competition with her dish Coconut Oyster and Zesty Marmalade Crostini. 

Deborah Reynolds of Waldorf and Lisa Keys of Pennsylvania tied for first place in the soup/stew competition with their dishes Creamy Tuscan Style Oyster and Creamy Maryland Oyster-Potato-Leek Soup with Bacon and Chives, respectively. Reynolds also took first in the main dish category with her dish Crispy Fried Oysters and Cornbread Waffles with Maple Bourbon Gravy.

Ronna Farley took home the Grand Prize of the contest, Deborah Reynolds took home People’s Choice, and Lisa Keys took home Best Presentation. 

The women’s and men’s shucking competitions occurred on both Saturday and Sunday from approximately 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. each day. The winner of the women’s competition was Isabella Macbeth of South Carolina, with a final time of 2 minutes and 41.66 seconds. Jay Gallett of Louisiana won both the men’s competition and the grand championship with a final time of 2 minutes and 13.79 seconds. 

Along with the competitions, the Fairgrounds also hosted a slew of local food venues, musicians, oyster tonging, a corn hole contest, science demonstrations, face painting, a scavenger hunt, and even belly dance company Mystic Caravan Dancers, among other things. Suffice it to say, this past weekend at the Fairgrounds was a time of fun and copious amounts of merriment. 

On a separate, but interesting note, the Irish Embassy was in attendance. Mr. Finbar Brown, the Embassy’s Agriculture and Food Counselor, represented the valued International Partner of the festival. 

Brown spoke at the event on behalf of Ireland. Galway, Ireland, hosts an oyster and seafood festival, the world’s longest-running oyster festival. 

For more information about the U.S. Oyster Festival and how to get involved, please visit their website here and their Facebook page here

It is an annual event, so keep an eye out for next year’s festivities. 

Contact our news desk at news@thebaynet.com

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