Pemaquid Oyster Festival reboots in Boothbay Harbor

Mine Oyster to host
Sun, 09/10/2023 - 8:00am

    After a three-year COVID-induced hiatus, Pemaquid Oyster Festival returns to celebrate its 20th anniversary this Sept. 24 from noon until dusk at Mine Oyster in Boothbay Harbor, rain or shine. The festival features oysters from the Damariscotta River region, drinks, a shucking contest (winner is qualified to enter the National Oyster Shucking Competition in Maryland), commercial and educational booths, boat rides and music.

    The event will be partially inside the restaurant and outside on Pier One under tents. Past events have drawn an estimated 1,000-2,000 oyster enthusiasts from all over to the single-day event, said Smokey McKeen, co-owner of Pemaquid Oyster Company. “Many come for the weekend.”

    The festival’s reboot includes a few changes from prior years. It has combined with Damariscotta Oyster Celebration to include more oyster growers in the region. This year’s festival will include oysters from Glidden Point Oyster Farm, Mook Sea Farm, Norumbega Oysters, Muscongus Bay Aquaculture, Pleasant Cove Oysters, Blackstone Point Oysters and Heron Island Oysters in addition to festival founders, Pemaquid Oyster Company. Also, this year admission tickets are required.

    The festival is adding a scholarship award to a local student who plans to study aquaculture, marine ecology, or a related field. The scholarship is made possible by funds bequeathed from longtime festival volunteer Tim Chiquoine (aka “the Barefoot Shucker”) and will be awarded annually.

    “Proceeds from the event are always donated to area nonprofits,” said McKeen. Since the festival started, it has granted over $175,000 to Midcoast organizations in the name of Edward A. Myers, a Damariscotta River aquaculture pioneer.

    Chef Ralph Smith of Mine Oyster will emcee the event. “He has been a great supporter of the oyster industry; he has a heart of gold,” said McKeen. When the festival lost its Damariscotta location, Smith was quick to offer assistance and the use of his restaurant, a larger venue than past festivals had.

    The musical lineup includes David Gagne, The Oystermen, Blue Flames, Darlin’ Corey, Paul Mellyn & Denny Breau and King Memphis.

    Pemaquid Oyster Festival would like to thank its season sponsors. Buy festival tickets at