I happened to be in the Rockport/Fulton area last March, on my way to attend a week-long Road Scholar program ( www.roadscholar.org) at Mustang Island, on the Texas coast. The area was buzzing with folks in town for Oysterfest. This event has been sponsored by the Fulton Volunteer Fire Department and town of Fulton, for over three decades. As seen in this photo, the Rockport Volunteer Fire Department also had a big presence at the festival.
There were lots of announcements on the area television stations about it being the weekend of the 36th Annual Fulton Oysterfest, so I decided to check it out. The publicity described the event as a salute to the tasty bi-valve found in local waters. Although I am not a fan of eating oysters, my culinary training curiosity makes me want to learn more about the cuisine of various regions. The volunteer firemen set up this tray that showed their most popular menu items for their operation---fried oysters, fried shrimp, and fried potatoes. I do not recall ever tasting ANYTHING fried, that I did not like! It's just the consequences of too much fried food that causes problems for me!
I enjoyed watching the guys behind the fresh oyster bar demonstrate their skill at shucking the oysters. Although some areas use mariculture techniques to "farm" oysters, and thus increase their harvest, I read that in Texas, oyster beds grow like weeds, so that the Texas Gulf is one of the few places that still harvest wild oysters. According to the festival website ( www.fultonoysterfest.com ), the Oysterfest officials work with seafood sources along the Texas Gulf Coast to locate the freshest oysters possible, for this event that is always held the first weekend in March. Oysters are harvested by dredging with a rake, that is pulled behind a boat. They live in beds on the bottom of the shallows.
Because of the abundant oyster harvest I observed at the festival, I am using this image as a visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) Bible memory verses about a "harvest", that says, "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 .
The eating of raw oysters is considered a health risk, but it has not been outlawed (despite the efforts of some health care policy makers). Rather, each individual is provided with a warning about the risk of eating raw shellfish, and must make the decision on the spot, before consumption! Perhaps it is at a time like this that you need to have your physician on "speed dial"!
Judging from the space allocated for the Beer Garden inside the festival tent, adult beverages are very popular during Oysterfest!
Have no fear, however, because a local church vendor booth had plenty of no-alcohol beverages available for purchase!
The Oysterfest is an event that is staged with the help of an army of volunteers. Many of the local community groups have food vendor booths at the event, so that the visitors can choose a more popular type of ethnic cuisine, if oysters are not one of your favorites.
What festival would be complete without the delicious roasted turkey legs---a great choice for folks who want to skip the fried foods!
I went to thefestival very early in the evening, when it first opened and preparations were still underway to provide seating and dining space for the huge crowds that were expected later. So far, the record attendance was 35,000 visitors in 2010, for this event held annually on the Fulton waterfront.
Like many festivals of this kind, the food and beverage vendors do not accept cash from customers. Rather, each customer buys a designated amount of "tickets" at a central booth, and uses these tickets to pay for food and beverages.
One of the large tents at the festival is full of arts and crafts vendor booths, selling everything imaginable. This area has a history in the ranching business, so Western decor and clothing was a popular item to offer for sale in the craft booths.
Likewise, this is a coastal area, so it is not surprising that many of the vendors offered items made with sea shells, and a nautical theme.
Many people come to the area to learn about the wildlife, especially the waterfowl. I was pleased to see that the Texas Master Naturalist group had a presence at the event, since I am a member of the Arkansas Master Naturalist organization.
All those diuretic-inducing adult beverages mean that folks will need to relieve themselves, so there was an arsenal of portable toilets situated under the palm trees!
Ihad the good fortune to get a room for the weekend at the Sandollar Resort---located right on the water and within walking distance of the festival, even though I did not have advance reservations. The desk clerk told me she had a cancellation because the weather was not cooperating for those folks who wanted to enjoy the outdoor aspects of Oysterfest.
One of the amenities of many waterfront resorts is a fishing dock that extends out over the water, and I enjoyed walking out to see what the view was like from the end.
Walking out on the dock gave me a good vantage point to see the waterfront activities of Oysterfest. I was also fortunate to get to see the fireworks show that is a part of Oysterfest. It was delightful!
As I returned to my lodging, I saw a bit of blue sky in the dense cloud cover, which made for a pretty photo. I was giving thanks to God that I was able to get a glimpse into the coastal communities of Fulton and Rockport, Texas. My visit there gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!!