OysterFest adds flavor to Celebration in Juneau
A new event in Juneau called OysterFest will highlight Alaska-grown oysters and raise awareness about Alaska’s expanding mariculture industry. OysterFest will be held June 7-9 during Celebration. Sponsored by Sealaska, the biennial dance and cultural event attracts thousands of participants from Alaska, Canada, and the northwest.
OysterFest is part of a movement to develop Alaska’s mariculture industry. Governor Parnell recently introduced legislation to help entrepreneurs obtain financing for farming oysters, geoducks, and other shellfish. “Mariculture has significant potential to create new employment and business opportunities in coastal Alaska,” said Susan Bell, commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.
OysterFest participants can learn shellfish preparation tips, see recipe demonstrations by Tlingit chef Rob Kinneen, and meet oyster growers from Southeast Alaska. Shellfish and oyster-themed menu pairings will be featured at restaurants around Juneau.
“Until recently, the few oyster farms that existed in Alaska were underdeveloped,” said Ray Riutta, executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “Now with 30 commercial oyster farms currently active across the state and more on the horizon, events such as OysterFest will bolster awareness of Alaska shellfish to consumers and the foodservice industry.”
OysterFest will be held at the future site of the Walter Soboleff Cultural Center, which is being developed by Sealaska in downtown Juneau. OysterFest is sponsored by Haa Aaní, a Sealaska subsidiary established in 2009 to spur economic development opportunities in Southeast Alaska. While Celebration is held every other year, OysterFest organizers plan to host the seafood showcase annually.