So we made it to the first Geoduck Festival in Allyn on Saturday, June 4th…only to discover that they were COMPLETELY out of geoduck! In their defense, this was the first year of the event and the gorgeous weather brought around 2,000 visitors to this tiny town. Plus we arrived late in the day. I’m sure next year they will be better prepared, but we’ll be there early just in case.
To add insult to injury, everyone who noticed the dejection in our faces told us that the geoduck preparations we missed were out-of-this-world delicious. All we saw were empty tables with signs for geoduck ceviche, sliders, fritters and chowder. So sad. They were still serving BBQ’ed oysters and hamburgers that looked appetizing but with my heart set on geoduck, I chose to forgo the food and just enjoy the festival.
Booths by local businesses and artisans lined the picturesque Allyn Waterfront Park. It had all the makings of the kind small town festival that I adore. It’s probably been 20 years since I have been to a behemoth like the Puyallup Fair, but I’m down for pretty much anything called a “fest” in a small community or neighborhood.
We missed most of the days entertainment, like the competitive geoduck digging contest where prizes were awarded for the heaviest duck and the longest shell. There was a beach scavenger hunt, oyster (shell, I hope!) shuffleboard, a natural history walk, and chainsaw carving.
We arrived in time for the “Do the Loop, 2011,” where completing a punch card by visiting 6 of the 14 businesses around town gave you an entry in a drawing for some impressive prizes.
There was an amateur oyster shucking contest that was very entertaining. We always catch the “professional” level oyster shucking contest at the Oyster Fest every fall in Shelton. Those experts are truly amazing to watch.
Inside the quaint pavilion was an auction of creations from the earlier woodcarving competition. Next to it, a beer garden tempted overheated attendees with selections from the Grove Street Brewhouse in Shelton. We didn’t venture in, but I think I saw a sign that beers were $3. Must have been a misprint. The Grove Street Brewhouse www.grovestreetbrewhouse.com/ has scored rave reviews for their unfiltered, brewed onsite beers. But maybe that was the correct price. This is a small town festival and I’ve recently been exposed to Major League ballpark prices.
Our very own Perry Acker was gearing up to bring their “Dave Matthews meets John Mayer with a little bit of Fleetwood Mac and Supertramp” sound to the stage. I didn’t feel too bad leaving before they started as I have them on our calendar for several upcoming events. These recent winners of the Ford national Gimme the Gig competition have an impressive list of their scheduled shows at www.perryacker.com/Shows.aspx. Make it a point to go see them and support our hometown rising stars.
While there was no edible geoduck in sight at the festival, down the street at North Bay Kayak & Kones you could find geoduck ice cream and sorbet from Olympic Mountain Ice Cream. No joke! These citrus infused concoctions are studded with ground geoduck. A few brave souls ventured a cone with mixed reviews. Alas, I was not one of them. I regret my weak resolve that day and plan to stop by to see if they are still offering it. I must redeem my self appointed status as a fearless gourmand. Until then, I hang my head in shame.
But if all this talk has made you crave geoduck that is not in the form of a frozen dessert, I would highly recommend a drive to Shelton to visit Xinh’s Clam & Oyster House www.xinhsrestaurant.com/. It requires a deft and experienced hand to prepare it properly and Xinh's makes the best pan fried geoduck I've ever had. While not on the regular menu, it's often featured as a special. Call ahead to see if it’s available and to make reservations. Xinh’s and Taylor Shellfish Farms were featured on an episode of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe on the Discovery Channel. Xinh Dwelley, the owner, is a local celebrity with her unique life story and flavor profiles.