Annual Fests for Foodies, Virginia’s Eastern Shore

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Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, the Eastern Shore of Virginia is home to dozens of festivals and celebrations centered around the region’s abundant fresh seafood and rich agricultural tradition. A growing number of boutique organic farmers and aqua farmers, and small-batch food producers are both reviving ancient food traditions here and inventing new ones. The epicurean mix ranges from down-home cooking and big seafood fests to elegant, chef-led extravaganzas.

FEBRUARY

Saturday, February 25
Barrier Island Center Oyster Roast

Machipongo, VA
February may seem like a chilly time to hold an oyster roast, but the Barrier Islands Center pulls out all the stops to keep guests warm and toasty during their annual shindig. Visitors can dine on roasted oysters, clams, pork barbecue, grilled chicken and sides in the comfort of a heated tent. There are also plenty of  hot, freshly roasted peanuts to keep your fingers warm – and coffee from Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company to warm you from the inside out. For those who want something with a bit more kick to drink, there will be a selection of beer and local Chatham Vineyards wine on hand.
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APRIL

Virginia’s Eastern Shore Land Trust Oyster Roast
Locations Vary
Home to thousands of acres of parks and protected land, some of the Eastern Shore’s most beautiful and historic estates are private and closed to the public. One exception is the annual Virginia’s Eastern Shore Land Trust Oyster Roast. Indulge on oysters, clams, wine, beer, spirits, dinner, and dessert while enjoying beautiful views on a local estate protected by the VES Land Trust conservation easement. Bid on one-of-a-kind auction items and take your chances in the raffle! Space is limited and this is always a popular event, so, book early!

Beach Bash Oyster Roast
YMCA Camp Silver Beach
Come for an afternoon of fun while we “steam up the beach” at this annual event at YMCA’s Camp Silver Beach. Featuring an all-you-can-eat menu of steamed and roasted oysters, clams, chowder, bbq and all the fixin’s. Wine by Chatham Vineyards, an assortment of craft beers on tap, and live entertainment on the deck for your enjoyment. A silent auction will be ongoing throughout the event – featuring original artwork by local carvers and artists, as well as gifts from local businesses.

Cape Charles Historical Society Low Country Shrimp Boil
Cape Charles, VA
This classic Low Country-style shrimp feast at the Cape Charles Museum features steamed shrimp with red potatoes, corn on the cob, smoked sausage, onion and peppers. Keep an eye out for local clams as well. The shrimp boil is accompanied by homemade rolls, coleslaw, desserts and beverages. Beer and wine is available. In addition to the feast there is a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and live music.

MAY TO OCTOBER

Steamers, Suds & Sounds on C-Pier Concert Series
Cape Charles, VA
Steamers, Suds, and Sounds is a Friday night outdoor concert series that starts in May and goes through late summer. Feast on steamed blue crabs, oysters, clams, shrimp, potatoes, and sweet corn, at The Oyster Farm at Kings Creek, a restaurant, marina, event and vacation rental complex that has breathtaking views out over the Chesapeake Bay from every corner.
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MAY

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Chincoteague Seafood Festival
Chincoteague, VA
This festival, in the tiny resort island of Chincoteague, has been a tradition for over four decades and it’s easy to see why. This seafood extravaganza gives you a taste of the best local seafood with raw oysters and clams, single fried oysters, clam fritters, shrimp, steamed clams, fried fish, clam chowder and clam strips. There are also plenty of sides with a full salad bar, sweet potato and boardwalk fries and hush puppies. There is live entertainment and beer will be available for purchase.

Saltwater Brew ‘N Que
Chincoteague, VA
This end of spring event combines the two worlds of craft beer and barbecue at a gorgeous setting right on the water, The Jackspot. The purchase of a craft beer bracelet allows you to taste an unlimited number of craft beer samples, many of which are from regional breweries. A Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned barbecue competition will leave your mouth watering – throw in some live music, food, vendors and a kid’s play area and it’s a family friendly bash!

Crabby Blues Festival
Cape Charles, VA
Cape Charles’s annual Crabby Blues Festival boasts fun for the whole family with a selection of live music, fresh-caught steamed crabs, a kids play area, arts and crafts vendors, a silent auction and food vendors. In addition to great local music this festival serves up the freshest crabs in town, as boats bring in their day’s haul crabs are brought to the park, steamed and served by the dozen. It’s a great finish to a day at the free beach steps from the busy town center.

JULY

Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival
Chincoteague, VA
The Eastern Shore of Virginia is one of American’s oldest agricultural hubs and all of that bounty is celebrated at the Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival. This three-day event is packed with artists, crafters, vendors and of course blueberries. You’ll be filled  with anti-oxidants by the time you leave this festival! Blueberries are on the menu for breakfast and lunch, with blueberry muffins and pancakes dominating the morning and blueberry studded chicken salad served for lunch. To top it off the Island Creamery, voted America’s Number One Ice Cream Parlor, serves up blueberry ice cream. Each day features a full line up of live entertainment.

AUGUST

Annual Oyster Buy Boat Reunion and ShucknSuck Festival
Cape Charles, VA
Come and visit a restored piece of Chesapeake Bay history as the Oyster Buy Boats return to Cape Charles for their annual reunion. This also kicks off a brand new event that features raw oysters, roasted oysters, fried oysters and more from all over the shore –Shuck-n-Suck 2016 at the Oyster Farm! Contests include the Boat Docking Contest, Smith Island Skiff Races, and much more. Plus live music and of course oysters, oysters and more oysters!

Craft Beer Fest

Eastern Shore’s Own Craft Beer & Music Festival
Belle Haven, VA
Those who want to discover more about craft beer and Eastern Shore seafood should look no further than ESO’s Craft Beer and Music Festival. Sample craft brews from over 35 breweries including Dogfish Head, Starr Hill, New Belgium and Devils Backbone at this festival, alongside juicy steamed oysters, plump steamed clams and locally made smoked barbecue. The meal is finished off with fresh cut fruit and various desserts. In addition to all the good eats festivalgoers can also enjoy live entertainment.

Annual Fish Fry & Chicken BBQ
Onley, VA
Make plans to attend this annual Eastern Shore tradition. Your choice between fresh fried local fish or chicken BBQ, along with all the rest of the fixings to round out your plate – coleslaw, sliced tomatoes, baked beans and hush puppies. All for $10! A great opportunity to support our local organizations, and fill up your tank on delicious Eastern Shore eats!

Serving Up The Shore
Wallops Island, VA
Enjoy a gourmet dinner created with locally sourced ingredients by some of the Eastern Shore’s most talented chefs. This four course farm-to-table dinner, at the Chesapeake Bay Field Station, is a collaboration between local chefs and farmers that celebrates the bounty that the Eastern Shore of Virginia has to offer. Regional craft beer and wine is included.

SEPTEMBER

Chincoteague Chili-Chowder Cookoff
Chincoteague, VA
Chincoteague Island may be known for its wild ponies, but in September it’s all about chili and chowder. Contests serve up everything from spicy five alarm chili to rich chowders overflowing with fresh, local seafood. Amateurs and professionals go head-to-head for this culinary throw down and the public can purchase bowls of everything. In addition to the soups and stews, look for famous crispy clam fritters (a local specialty) – – a deep fried, tender nugget of dough studded with local clams. Once you’ve had your fill of tasty treats you can take in some hot rods at the car show, enjoy the live music or get a dose of cuteness at the Little Mr. or Little Miss Hot Stuff children’s pageant.

Oyster Tasting at the Onancock Farmers & Artisans Market
Onancock, VA
The regular May to October Saturday morning farmers market in Onancock offers a special treat on September 24. You can snack on roasted oysters while you stock up on local produce, heritage meats, fresh-baked bread, homemade sauces, artisan treasures and more. The oysters are fresh-caught seaside Sewansecott oysters from H.M. Terry, from just a few miles down the road on the Atlantic Ocean. Oyster toppings are made by Onancock eateries, Bizzotto’s Gallery and Cafe, and Janet’s Cafe & General Store. Proceeds benefit the Eastern Shore Coalition against Domestic Violence.
Details: Oyster tastings served 10 a.m. ’til they run out

Brew-N-Que (and Oysters Too!)
Cape Charles, VA
This two-day fest puts a spotlight on smoky scents and frothy craft beer at Sunset Beach Resort in Cape Charles. Brew ‘N’ Que (Oysters Too!) includes a professional barbeque competition — some of the best BBQ in the nation, unlimited craft beer tastings, and local, Eastern Shore oysters. Big fun is in store with lots of activities for families and children, as well as live music.

Taste Of Chincoteague
Chincoteague, VA
Mark your calendar for this event, kicking off Chincoteague’s Annual Restaurant Week with “Taste of Chincoteague” – an evening of fine food samplings from local eateries, accompanied by adult contemporary music and unique local and regional artwork. Connecting local seafood lovers with local seafood restaurants–oysters, crab cakes, and fresh fish are on the evening’s menu. Beer and wine will also be available for purchase.

OCTOBER

Swine and Wine
Cape Charles, VA
As the name suggests there is plenty of swine at this event — in the form of tender, smoky pork barbecue, as well as smoked chicken. Guests get a true taste of a southern barbecue dinner with all the fixings, as the meal is accompanied by collard greens, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and coleslaw. A variety of wine and beer is available including vintages from local winery Chatham Vineyards. There is live music to keep guests entertained, and a silent auction features Eastern Shore art, golfing trips, fishing gear and many other items. Get a real taste of what parties are like on the Eastern Shore of Virginia at Swine and Wine.

Chincoteague Oyster Festival
Chincoteague, VA
Chincoteague oysters — known for their salty, briny flavor — bring the island community together every October to celebrate the famous oysters, which are shipped all over the world. Sample crispy single-fried oysters, freshly shucked raw oysters, golden oyster fritter sandwiches, succulent steamed oysters, and bowls of Eastern Shore style clam chowder. The feast is rounded out by some greens in the form of salads, and crispy onion-studded hushpuppies. Beer is available on site or you can load up your own cooler and bring it. Tickets for this party sell out quick!

Exmore Rotary Soule Arnold Oyster Roast
Exmore, VA

Gathering in a town park to feast on fresh, local seafood is just about as down home as it gets on the Eastern Shore of Virginia…and the Soule Arnold Oyster Roast and Clam Steam offers just that! This annual event boasts an all you can eat buffet of salty, roasted seaside oysters, fresh steamed clams, creamy clam chowder made from the folks at Terry Bros Seafood, smoky pork barbecue, coleslaw and desserts. A cash bar will be available for the purchase of beer and wine, and a silent auction will be held.

Cork & Canvas
Chincoteague Island, VA

Cork & Canvas is a wine festival and art show held on picturesque Chincoteague Island. Admission includes live music, great food, an artisan market and kids’ entertainment. This day-long festival offers samplings from various Virginia wineries. Ticket price includes unlimited wine tastings throughout the day and a souvenir tasting glass.


NOVEMBER is Virginia’s Eastern Shore Wine and Brine

VA Wine and Brine

During the month of November, Virginia Wine and Brine spotlights the sheer delight of tasting wines and oysters grown side-by-side here on the Eastern Shore. There are only a few places in the world where these two delicacies are grown in the same watershed, and the Virginia Eastern Shore, with the Chesapeake Bay along one 70-mile coastline, is one of them. So feast on roasted oysters, clams and sip award-winning wine from Chatham Vineyards, produced on Church Creek here on the Eastern Shore.  Listed below are Wine and Brine oyster roasts. Get details here about  Wine and Brine hotel packages, culinary tours and cultural events.

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Island House Oyster Roast
Wachapreague, VA
There are few places on the Eastern Shore that feel closer to the sea than Wachapreague. At the The Island House Oyster Roast, enjoy breathing in the salty air, and taking in views of the Wachapreague harbor and cracking open freshly roasted oysters which have been cooked slowly over open fires and freshly steamed clams. There is be plenty of fork-tender pulled pork, with classic sides like baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw to complete the feast. Beer and local Chatham Vineyards wine will be available and the Island House’s bar is stocked with cocktails. The event features a silent and live auction, as well as live entertainment.

Saxis Island Oyster Roast
Saxis, VA
Saxis Island is one of the Eastern Shore’s best kept secrets, tucked away on the bayside of our 70-mile peninsula. Visitors have the perfect opportunity to explore this unique area at the Saxis Island Oyster Roast. Unlike many other oyster festivals, this oyster roast is held indoors – and features table service. Guests need only hold up a sign and a volunteer will bring over almost any seafood item from the menu – including steamed oysters, single fried oysters, clam chowder and fried clam strips. Guests also have the chance to gather around the shucking table and slurp fresh, raw oysters right out of the half shell while socializing. Diners will also have their choice of what to wet their whistle — bring a cooler with your choice of (alcoholic) beverage.

Merrior & Terrior Oyster Extravaganza
Machipongo, VA
This Virginia Wine and Brine feast is a food and wine lovers dream. Based on the concept that a wine’s taste reflects the region it is grown in, or terroir, this event, held on the grounds of Chatham Vineyards, pairs Chatham Vineyard’s wines with oysters that are cultivated in the waters surrounding the winery. Just as wines are believed to be flavored by their region, oysters are also known for developing a distinct flavor, or Merroir, based on where they are grown. The evening’s flavors will only be made more enjoyable by the beauty of the winery, which sits on Church Creek and is dotted with buildings that date to the early 1800’s.

Blue Crab Bay’s Oysters a la Carte
Melfa, VA

This late morning, early afternoon brunch/lunch Virginia Wine & Brine event is under the pavilion at Blue Crab Bay Co. features Chatham Vineyards wines, oysters on the half shell by Shooting Point Oyster Co., fried oysters and steamed shrimp by the Island House Restaurant and oyster-and-vodka shooters by the Great Machipongo Clam Shack; oyster and clam chowder made by the folks at Blue Crab Bay Co. with oysters donated by Cherrystone Aqua Farms; and more. Get your holiday shopping knocked out with great shop specials! No admission price, purchase menu items a la carte.

Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast
Machipongo, VA
The annual Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast, another Virginia Wine and Brine stop, helps to preserve the very waters that provide the oysters that are the center piece of this feast. Held on the property of the Barrier Island Center, an historic almshouse, attendees can feast on smoky, roasted oysters and clams juicy pork barbecue, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw and assorted desserts. Festival goers can unleash their competitive side with both a silent and live auction.

Saturday
Cape Charles Historical Society Oyster Roast
Cape Charles, VA
Oysters are the star of this Virginia Wine and Brine show, on the grounds of the Cape Charles Museum, and will be served both roasted and raw. Spicy bacon and potato studded clam chowder will also be available. Non-seafood lovers can chow down on fried chicken, three bean salad, potato salad and homemade rolls.

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