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Let the Oysters Keep Coming

That’s the goal of Pirate’s Cove’s Pigs & Pearls Fundraiser to benefit the West & Rhode Riverkeeper

They say it was a hungry man who was the first to eat an oyster, but I disagree. I say it was a smart man, one who figured out how to set a bunch of oysters on a flat rock by a fire, cover them over with wet leaves and let them steam until they popped open, then slurped down all those succulent bits of salty goodness. Come to think of it, that was probably one smart woman who figured that out.
    There were always a lot of smart men and women feasting on oysters around the West and Rhode rivers, judging by all the oyster middens, piles of long-abandoned oyster shells along the banks that show where these people lived well on the bounty of the Bay thousands of years before John Smith showed up.
    You can join in that fine tradition at the 2nd Annual Pigs & Pearls fundraiser on Saturday, April 29 at the Pirate’s Cove Dock Bar. Pirate’s Cove chef Steve Hardison will serve freshly shucked and roasted oysters raised by local watermen on the West and Rhode rivers, plus pulled BBQ sandwiches made from pork raised on Progressive Farms, nestled in the rolling hills of the watersheds. He’ll serve the pulled pork sandwiches with two sauces, BBQ baked beans, macaroni and cheese and homemade corn bread.
    The Eastport Oyster Boys will perform live, and as I am one of the founding members, I’ll sit in with regulars Kevin Brooks, Tom Guay, Mike Lang and Andy Fegley as they perform their original Chesapeake-inspired “cruisin’ tunes.”

    Oysters are the rivers’ friends. Oysters filter the water, feeding on the plankton as they clear the water of suspended sediment. Half a dozen watermen are growing oysters on the bottom of the Rhode and West rivers; the watermen are the rivers’ friends, too. You’ll sample the product of their hard work, as several of these watermen will provide oysters they’ve grown right here to be served freshly shucked or roasted until they pop open, simmering in their own salty broth.
    A thriving commercial fishery is vital to the health of the rivers. While these oysters are growing from fingernail-sized spat to full three-inch market size, each oyster filters an average of 50 gallons of water a day. Aquaculture is a good way to expand the number of oysters in our rivers, and to encourage watermen to engage in aquaculture, we need to eat more of their oysters to boost the market.
    That’s where you come in. Come to Pigs & Pearls. Eat a lot of oysters. Be a friend of the rivers.
    Proceeds from the event will help the Riverkeeper organization in our efforts to preserve and protect the West and Rhode rivers. We’re the only group whose only job is to keep these two rivers clean through restoration projects; advocating for better environmental policies and enforcing environmental laws; and keeping sewage from the rivers by providing pump-out service to recreational boats.

    We’re blessed to have half a dozen watermen growing oysters in our rivers, and we’ll have an exhibit to explain why those oysters are so important to the health of our waters. In the time it takes you to finish your first Sweetwater Brewing Company IPA or gobble down your first pulled pork sandwich, you’ll watch a cultch of oysters turn five gallons of muddy creek water into water as clear as gin.
    “This is a great event to mark the opening of the Pirate’s Cove Dock Bar,” said co-owner Michael Galway. “What better way to do that than with local oysters right from the West and Rhode rivers along with Pirate’s Cove BBQ by Chef Steve Hardison? The Eastport Oyster Boys are perfect for this occasion — a great fun day, so try on your pearls and pig noses and join us to help raise funds for the West and Rhode Riverkeeper.”

Saturday, April 29, 2-6pm, The Inn at Pirate’s Cove, Galesville, $40 advance, $45 door, kids five to 12, $10, 4 and under, free. Admission includes 20 tickets to exchange for freshly shucked West and Rhode river oysters, BBQ or regional craft beer: 410-867-2300; www.brianborupub.com/gift-certificates.