By Chris Lyttle
ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. – Brave the cold weather and be rewarded with a belly full of warm oysters. The Isle of Wight County Hunt Club put on their fourth annual oyster roast Feb. 21 as one of many club-sponsored events you can find around Hampton Roads.
The outdoor event featured live music and entertainment, raffle prizes and a feast of all-you-can-eat-and-drink oysters and draft beers. The event was open to the public and some 700 visitors showed up, despite the winter storm that recently rolled through the region.
“The weather actually held some people back from attending,” said Todd West, treasurer of the IOW Hunt Club. “But it is a good time to put on an oyster roast because hunting season is over and members are preparing to do Spring events.”
The low temps did however contribute to the plumes of seafood steam that filled the air. Hunt club members wrapped thousands of oysters in wet burlap and laid them across a 30-foot steel-plated fire pit. Oysters steamed inside the cloth until they popped open while members scooped them up with heavy shovels and maneuvered their way through the crowds.
Patrons waved bright little orange flags that were posted at each plywood table to signal another round, and in came a hot, fresh batch of shells dumped in front of everyone to crack open and dig in. Fellow ostreaphiles, or oyster lovers, devoured the meaty generous-sized portions paired with their favorite sauces and crackers.
Oyster roasts are typically standing events and everyone comes prepared to get their hands dirty from all the shell shucking required to get to the goods. It’s conventional to bring your own extras like condiments and shucking knives, but there’s still a very communal vibe where everyone shares a feast together in close quarters in a country-spirited atmosphere.
“This type of event is part of the culture we enjoy,” said West. “It’s an outdoor social event and it’s truly a great time for all folks to get together, collaborate, share some thoughts and mix and mingle. Whether it’s from your workplace or your social club that you’re in— It’s men, women, kids— everybody’s out here having a great time.”
More local food and club-sponsored events like this occur weekly all over Hampton Roads. To find out what’s going on in the area, visit HRScene.com under Community Events.