Damariscotta River Oyster Celebration to benefit Darling Marine Center

Sea farmers of the Damariscotta River invite people to sample and shuck fresh oysters and learn about the marine environment on Saturday, June 24.

The Damariscotta River Oyster Celebration will take place from noon to 3 p.m. at Darrows Barn in Damariscotta. Proceeds will benefit student researchers at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center in Walpole.

Participating farms include Mook Sea Farm; Pemaquid Oyster Co.; Glidden Point Oyster Farms; Muscongus Bay Aquaculture Inc.; Norumbega Oyster Inc.; Dodge Cove Marine Farm; and Otter Cove Farms.

At 1 p.m. Bill Mook of Mook Sea Farm will extend a welcome and talk about challenges of farming oysters in a changing ocean.

Heather Leslie, director of the Darling Marine Center, will speak about collaborative research efforts that provide career training for undergraduate and graduate students interested in aquaculture.

And Ryan McPherson of Glidden Point Oyster Farms will share tips for buying and eating oysters.

Following these brief presentations, oyster farmers will take the stage for a Q&A session with Dana Morse, of Maine Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension, and Larry Mayer of the DMC. They’ll answer questions about oysters, sea farming, ocean science and education.

Maine’s half-shell oyster industry was spawned at the Darling Marine Center. In the 1970s, with Sea Grant funding, graduate students and technicians working with Herb Hidu developed techniques for growing oysters in the clean, cold salty Damariscotta River.

Those enterprising individuals went on to start the first oyster farms in Maine. The collaboration continues: Today, sea farmers and scientists work together to understand the changing ocean environment and adapt practices to keep businesses vital.

The Damariscotta River Association, a sponsor of the event, will offer short, guided hikes from Darrows Barn to the Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site — one of the largest oyster shell mounds in the Northeast and the largest extant midden north of Georgia.

The $25 per-person ticket entitles each holder to two beverages and six oysters. Tickets can be purchased at the Walpole Barn on Route 129 in Walpole, Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop on Main Street in Damariscotta and online at EventBrite.com. Cash only tickets will be available at the door.

Additional oysters and beverages will be for sale (cash only) at the event. Those who wish to take oysters home are encouraged to bring a small cooler; ice will be provided.

Oyster lovers may also want to join the Maine Farmland Trust’s Damariscotta River tour earlier that day. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit mainefarmlandtrust.org/event/harvesting-the-river.