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About the Arcata Bay Oyster Festival

Humans have cultivated oysters for thousands of years. A shell mound on Indian Island dates back more than 7,000 years! Legends of their delectable taste, magical powers, and wondrous pearls have come to us through the ages. On California’s most northwest corner in the scenic and wild redwood coast, we are blessed with an abundance of this most desired of mollusks. The Arcata Bay Oyster Festival began 20 years ago as a way to promote our local aquaculture industry. Over 70% of the fresh oysters consumed in California are grown in 450 acres of Arcata Bay where the conditions are ideal.
 
Currently there are five companies raising both Pacific Oysters and Kumomoto oysters for export and the restaurant trade. On average, it takes 18 months from “seed” oyster to harvest. June is a peak month for oyster harvests in Humboldt County. These little gems of the sea are now farmed using long-lines or "rack & bag" methods in the Arcata Bay and no harmful dredging of the bay is necessary for their capture. The cities of Arcata and Eureka have made significant efforts to maintain the high quality of water in the bay, which is essential for aquaculture.
 

The Arcata Bay Oyster Festival has become a tradition for local restaurateurs, executive chefs, and caterers to show off their culinary skills by preparing oysters in every imaginable way.

Try them roasted, barbecued, fried, on the half shell or on pizza, secret sauces and with wild abandon.

With imagination and flair, one can eat away the entire day. The coals glow hot from early morning 'til the last oyster has been shucked.

 

Crowds throughout the day top 15,000 to 18,000, keeping local food vendors more than busy. Most festival vendors are chefs from Humboldt County's most appreciated restaurants. Each year festival chefs compete in the annual oyster tasting competition to claim the auspicious award of 'Best Oyster of the Festival' and 'Peoples' Choice.'


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