Let the slurping begin!

After a successful first year, Oyster Week returns to the Seacoast next Sunday with a week of events highlighting the state’s fastest growing seafood industry. Half of the state’s 14 oyster farms will participate in events at local breweries and restaurants from Newmarket to Newington showcasing the state’s oyster harvest which has increased nearly 800% in value since 2013.

“We really want to promote oyster farmers and help their product,” Kelsey Meyer, coordinator of the New Hampshire Shellfish Initiative which is organizing the event. “It’s a local and very sustainable product and it’s a great way to engage the community with the farmers.”

Building on last year’s successful event, the week will once again culminate with the second annual Seacoast Oysterfest on the deck of Bernie’s Beach Bar in Hampton Beach on Saturday, September 24. In addition to live music, craft beer and cocktails, at least six different oyster farms will be on hand to shuck their tasty shellfish until they run out. New this year are seafood samples from Gulf of Maine Conservas in Rye, as well as spicy hot sauce from Pogo’s Peppers in Rye.

“We’ve branched out to include other local New Hampshire businesses,” said Swell Oysters owner Russ Hilliard, who is once again helping to organize the event.

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The week kicks off on Sunday September 18 with the annual Stone Church Oysterfest in Newmarket which will combine oysters from Fox Point Oysters, Virgin Oyster Company and Rising Tide Oyster Co. with plenty of live music in the courtyard of the iconic music hall.

On Wednesday, September 21, Stoneface Brewing will unveil two new beers made with oysters from all participating farms. Seacoast Oyster Stout, a dark, deep stout with a delicate brine and pronounced minerality, and a unique small batch of Seacoast Oyster IPA will both be on tap at the Newington Brewery.

“I don’t know if it’s been done before,” Hilliard said of the rare pairing of oysters with the hopped brew.

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The event will also offer beer lovers and oyster lovers the opportunity to meet the farmers.

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Following recent recognition by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services for its sustainability practices, Throwback Brewery will be showcasing this other sustainable resource when it hosts Fox Point Oysters on Thursday, September 22 at its quaint North Hampton brewery from 4 p.m. to 19h.

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Hosting an annual oyster festival was one of the goals of establishing the New Hampshire Shellfish Initiative in 2019, connecting oyster farmers from Great Bay to Hampton who were as varied as the flavor profiles of the harvest they raised. every year.

Virgin Oyster Company will again be present at Oysterfest at Bernie's Beach Bar on Saturday September 24th.

A major focus has been community outreach with events like Oyster Week to educate the public about the valuable role the oyster plays in the ecosystems along the coast. Swell Oysters, Hampton’s only oyster farm, began hosting tours of their farm this summer to further amplify this sustainable resource which can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day and is invaluable for filtering out excess nutrients. , like nitrogen, of our waters.

“Not many people know what an oyster farm looks like or how it works,” Hilliard said. “They just see the oyster on their plate, but don’t know how it got there.”

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Oyster week is all about fun and education

While events like Oyster Week help educate the public, Meyer, who is a PhD student in marine biology at UNH, aims to make sure the state’s shellfish farmers are also on the radar of state legislators and regulators. Better access to boats, more and faster water testing after heavy rains and better storage facilities are just some of the improvements the initiative has lobbied people like the congressman for. Chris Pappas, who recently took a boat trip to several farms and met various farmers.

Swell Oyster Co. owner Russ Hilliard (left) and Chris Raymond at last year's Oysterfest at Bernie's Beach Bar.  Oyster Week returns to Seacoast and Bernie's September 18-24.

“We try to connect with different stakeholders and legislators to work as a team and help the industry grow,” Meyer said. “We try to work our way through different legislators and talk to them about the concerns we have.”

For Hilliard and the other farmers, the event ultimately offers a chance to reunite with fellow farmers in an industry that seems to be driven more by camaraderie than competition.

“In terms of competition, there seems to be enough mouths for all the oysters produced not just in New Hampshire, but all of New England,” Hilliard said. “It’s by no means ruthless.”

For more information on Oyster Week and tickets, log on to www.nhsfi.com.

NH Oyster Week 2022 September 18-24

September 18 – Stone Church Oysterfest, Newmarket, 12-5pm

Sept. 21 – Stoneface Brewing Oyster Stout Outlet, Newington, 5-7 p.m.

September 22 – Fox Point Oysters at Throwback Brewery, North Hampton, 4-7 p.m.

September 24 – Bernie’s Beach Bar Oysterfest, Hampton, 1 p.m.