Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association (TOGA) will present its Sixth Annual Virginia Half-Shell Oyster Tasting from noon to 3pm on Saturday October 31st, in the parking lot of Kelsick Specialty Market, 6632 Main Street, in Gloucester.

As in previous years, there will be six local Middle Peninsula Oyster Growers providing fresh oysters from varying waters of this area. People who attended this event in the past were surprised and pleased to find that they could identify different tastes in oysters from different waters. It is not just the saltiness that differs, but other tastes deriving from the water in which the oysters grew.

If you have not taken part in one of these fun local Oyster Tastings, now is the time. A relatively small event, there is time to talk with Growers and other bivalve gardeners, and even pick up a few hints on oyster growing from TOGA Master Oyster Gardeners who will be in attendance. Deborah Pratt, many times National Champion Oyster Shucker, again will be there to present a demonstration and help you brush up on your shucking technique.

Oyster Aquaculture in Virginia has been a resounding success, with each year’s documented harvest showing a huge increase in oysters sold over the previous year. It is believed that Oyster Aquaculture will continue to revitalize the industry in Virginia, to the good of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the economy of the region. Most of all, it provides a wonderful dining experience for oyster lovers who come from all over.

Tickets for the Oyster Tasting may be purchased at Kelsick Specialty Market in Gloucester, or (if done early enough before the Oct 31st date) by mailed check to TOGA, PO BOX 2463, Gloucester, VA 23061. Also, for the computer savvy crowd, go online to the TOGA web site: www.oystergardener.org and purchasing tickets via PayPal (print out and bring to the OTE). There will be a limited number of tickets available at $35 a person. So don’t delay. Beer, wine and other beverages, along with different, delicious food (not just oysters) will be available at the event; separate from the ticket purchase price.

This 2015 Oyster Tasting Event will be rain or shine. No worries of foul weather! After a Nor’ Easter hit last year’s OTE, Plan B was created. The Puller Center opened its spacious facility for our attendees to be warm and safe while tasting the various bivalves and enjoying delicious foods and spirits specifically chosen by Kelsick Specialty Market (next door) to compliment oysters.

Supporting this event; besides tasting the area’s premiere oysters and meeting a lot of great people, is a super way to help TOGA continue its efforts in teaching the public the joys and importance of growing oysters in the Bay areas.

The TOGA members planning this event are very dependent upon volunteers to shuck oysters, and to do setup & clean up chores, as in every successful festivity. So members please do volunteer early to help make this wonderful day the best Oyster Tasting Event yet!