Bowen's Wharf Seafood Festival returns. Photo courtesy of Bowen's Wharf

 The Newport Oyster & Chowder Festival will return to Bowen’s Wharf this weekend in downtown Newport as the first large-scale event in the area to take place after over a year of cancellations due to the pandemic. This rain or shine festival begins Friday, May 21 at 6pm and runs through Sunday, May 23 at 6pm, bringing together local oyster growers, select restaurant vendors, signature beverage sponsors and live music to kick off the season in the City by the Sea.

After a gap year in 2020, the event has celebrated the Rhode Island aquaculture seafood industry in what has become an important community event for Newport, the environment and the local economy.

“We started the festival in 2016 to focus on Rhode Island’s growers, with their diverse varieties and excellent quality. Now we’ve added clam chowder to the mix, another New England staple, and it’s more important than ever to showcase these restaurants and oyster farmers and their products which are harvested right here in our backyards and to emphasize an integral part of the economy that aquaculture plays,” says Bart Dunbar, President of Bowen’s Wharf Company in a statement.

Tickets have been sold online in advance and a limited quantity will be available at the door, as wristbands will be required to access the festival tents in several “sessions” throughout the weekend. The schedule is as follows:

Friday, May 21st, 6-9pm

Opening Night Party | Cost of admission: $60

Includes a dozen oyster/chowder tokens and alcoholic beverage

Saturday, May 22nd

Cost of admission: $40

Includes six oyster/chowder tokens

SESSION 1 – 11am-1pm | SESSION 2 – 1:30pm-3:30pm | SESSION 3 – 4pm-6pm

Sunday, May 23rd

Cost of admission: $40

Includes six oyster/chowder tokens

SESSION 1 – 11am-1pm | SESSION 2 – 1:30pm-3:30pm | SESSION 3 – 4pm-6pm

The event will benefit both the Ocean State Aquaculture Association and Rhode Island’s official flagship, Oliver Hazard Perry, kicking off the weekend with a single Friday evening session, which offers three hours to enjoy a dozen oysters (or several chowder samples) and alcoholic beverage included in the ticket price. A full bar and other food provided by local restaurants will also be available for purchase. The festivities will continue Saturday and Sunday with café-style seating throughout the wharf and outdoor bar service, which will not require a ticket to access.

Tokens will be sold on site for $2 each, which can then be redeemed for additional oysters from six different local growers or samples of fresh chowder. Not a fan of oysters? Participating chowder vendors and select restaurants such as Diego’s, Matunuck Oyster Bar, Speakeasy Bar & Grill, Blue Rocks Catering and Newport Chowder Company will serve up their most celebrated recipes and dishes, including non-seafood items too! Treats from vendors like Sweet B’s Donuts, Mooseman’s Kettle Corn and Sprinkles Ice Cream will sweeten the event.

Meet and mingle with these local growers on-site:

  • Salt Pond Oyster Co.
  • Matunuck Oyster Farm
  • Watch Hill Oysters
  • Behan Family Farms
  • East Beach Oyster Co.
  • Walrus & Carpenter Oysters

Beverages will include specialty cocktails from brands like Don Julio, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray, Bulleit, Belvedere and Ardbeg whiskey, along with crisp wines from Cloudy Bay and Whispering Angel. Moët & Chandon will provide the bubbly, with their signature Moët Minis and Chandon’s AluMinis™ in Rosé and Garden Spritz varieties. If beer is more your style, Guinness and Rhode Island’s own Whalers will be sampling and serving up cold brews to pair with the oysters. Chevrolet joins as another sponsor this year, so in between bites and sips, be sure to check out the stylish Corvette and Tahoe on display along famed America’s Cup Avenue.

Live music will enliven the waterfront all weekend long!

Friday, May 21, 2021

6pm – 9pm: Jake Kulak & The Lowdown – Blues & Classic Rock

Saturday, May 22, 2021

11am – 1pm: Timeless – Classic Rock & Oldies

1pm – 3pm: The Teledynes – Surf Rock

3pm – 6pm: CBD – Soulful R&B, Rock w/ a touch of Country


11am – 1pm: Mel & The Unruly Roots – Folk Rock

1pm – 3pm: The Z Boys – Surf Rock

3pm – 5pm: The Copacetics – Reggae & Ska

The Jamestown Newport Ferry will also be offering special express service to Bowen’s Wharf to transport guests from Jamestown to and from the festivities:

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...