Taste your way around the Ocean State with 12 different oyster varieties at the 3rd Annual Newport Oyster Festival Friday, May 18 – Sunday, May 20 at historic Bowen’s Wharf in downtown Newport, RI. This rain-or-shine event brings together our local growers with craft cocktails & brews, six bands, a shucking contest and evening fundraiser in a family & dog-friendly event that coincides with the only US stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race.
New this year is that the winner of the shucking contest will be sent to represent Rhode Island at the US Nationals in St. Mary’s Maryland. Colorful festival tents on the waterfront always make for a great party, and this one is for three great causes. The event showcases over 20 exhibitors and works closely with the Nature Conservancy in RI who collects all the shell – over two tons collected in 2017. Growers, food trucks, bustling bars, sweet & salty vendors and sampling opportunities are surrounded by the shops, water tours, galleries and restaurants that are resident tenants at this year-round destination.
“Moët & Chandon returns as a presenting partner this year and brings with them many of the beloved LVMH brands. We’ve paired it all with 12 oyster farms from around the state and over 20 exhibitors, including made-in-USA wares from Murphy Knives,” said Trixie Wadson, Marketing Director for Bowen’s Wharf Company. “World-class favors and menus all at one marketplace party.”
Champagne and oysters on the waterfront is the quintessential Newport pairing, and this waterfront festival truly sets the tone and paves the way for setting sail in the City by the Sea.
Bowen’s Wharf Company founded the Newport Oyster Festival and the Rhode Island Oyster Trail in 2016, the festival attracts thousands of visitors and locals interested in celebrating aquaculture in what has become an important community event for Newport, the environment, and the local economy.
“We created the festival to focus on Rhode Island’s growers and their oysters since they are excellent quality and diverse in varieties. Aquaculture is an integral part of Rhode Island’s economy,” said Bart Dunbar, president of Bowen’s Wharf Co.
The Festival weekend kicks off with a fundraiser Friday night under the main tents with all-you-can-eat oysters from seven different growers, open bar, catering by Diego’s Newport, auction featuring Kiel James Patrick pearls, artisan cocktails and Moët & Chandon Mini’s for all guests; live traditional American and Celtic folk music performed by Atwater Donnelly will play throughout the evening. Dessert concoctions by Anchor Toffee and The Cookie Jar. The evening benefits the Ocean State Aquaculture Association and RI Oyster Trail, Nature Conservancy in RI and their reef-restoration projects and the state’s official sailing education vessel, . Tickets are $125 and are limited to 200 people.
Saturday and Sunday feature café-style seating throughout the Wharf with live music. Oyster sampling expands to include 12 different growers. Six restaurant vendors join locally farmed Newport Sea Salt, and handmade desserts from Anchor Toffee and Sweet B’s donuts: flavors unique to the Ocean State. Tickets are $27 in advance. Each ticket includes six fresh Rhode Island oysters and a beverage; tickets for additional oysters will be sold on site. Participating restaurants such as Diego’s Newport, The Wharf Pub, The Landing, Binge BBQ, Hometown Poke and Matunuck Oyster Bar will serve their most celebrated dishes, seafood & non-seafood, which will be available for purchase. Beverages will include specialty cocktail samplings from the all-natural Belvedere Vodka as well as spirits, Cloudy Bay wine and craft beer from Rhode Island’s fastest-growing brewery, Whalers Brewing.
Fruit smoothies, ice cream, cookies, and crepes, as well as full bars, are part of the surrounding Bowen’s Wharf property as well as land, sea & sky tours. Chilled champagne will be available along with master classes featuring oyster & charcuterie pairings with Cloudy Bay Vineyards of New Zealand.
The music on Saturday and Sunday includes six talented bands, each playing a two-hour set providing a variety of music all weekend long. The range of music styles includes soul, blues, jazz, R&B, surf rock, Caribbean, and reggae.
“We love playing at the Anchor of Newport at the Oyster Festival because the weather starts to warm up and it’s a prelude to the busy tourist season,” said Chelley Knight, one of the popular local performers. “Outdoor gigs are great because the audience is vast and you see lots of family & friends and everyone always seems to be enjoying themselves, rain or shine.”