Leonardtown, MD — Although it’s officially the St. Mary’s County Oyster Festival, it definitely is national in scope. This year’s 49th annual festival at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds in Leonardtown brought in tens of thousands of visitors, many of them from other states. And this year’s winners of the two marque events-–the National Oyster Cook-Off and the National Oyster Shucking Championship-–were from other states.

Defending 2014 U.S. National Oyster Shucking Champion, Duke Landry of Louisiana won his second consecutive championship Sunday Oct. 18 with a composite score of 2:16.76. He will be opening a new restaurant in his home state Monday, Oct. 19. Landry bested women’s champ Annie Boniforio.

Lynne Laino of Downingtown, PA was grand prize winner of the National Cook-Off with her recipe of Oyster Tacos with Chipolte Crema. Three of the nine finalists were from Southern Maryland. Robert “RJ” Johnson of Bushwood, a chef at the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship, came in second in the soups and stews category with his Old Line Creole Oyster Stew, for which he won the People’s Choice Award for the second year in a row.

Debbie Reynolds of Waldorf was second to Laino in the Main Dish category with her oyster pizza. And third in that category was Tammy Davis of Chesapeake Beach with her Asian Oyster Pancake.

Judges included Rob Caspar, former Baltimore Sun food critic, and local favorite, Chef Luc Jaffres of Café des Artistes in Leonardtown.

A presence throughout the festival was King Oyster Jim Davis, past president of the Rotary Club of Lexington Park.

The festival is sponsored every year by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, but a number of other civic organizations run food booths throughout the fairgrounds. Of course the Chesapeake Bay bivalve is king at the festival, with opportunities to sample them just about every imaginable way–raw, scalded, grilled, fried and in stews. But there were plenty of other seafood and non-seafood offerings for every taste bud.

The venue was filled with many arts and crafts vendors and displays. And music and dance entertained throughout the festival, including St. Mary’s College Jazz Combo, Sam Grow Band, GeeZer, Eastern Tradition, Ben Connelly, Pond Scum, Southern Mix Chorus, Daughters of Veda, Southern Maryland Sound, and Professor Horn’s Punch and Judy Show.

Proceeds from the Oyster Festival go to support the charitable efforts of the Rotary Club of Lexington Park and many other St. Mary’s County organizations.
And of course, next year will be the big “five-oh” for the event which is one of the area’s really big annual festivals and a major tourist draw. For more Information about the Rotary Club of Lexington Park go to http://rotarylp.org/

Please enjoy the attached Photo Galleries by The Bay Net Photojournalist Ron Bailey.

Contact Dick Myers at dick.myers@thebaynet.com

Oyster Festival 2015 (Saturday)

Oyster Festival 2015 (Sunday)