P.E.I. Shellfish Festival changing formats

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on August 26, 2014

Food and fun will be on the menu when the annual P.E.I. Shellfish Festival kicks off next month in Charlottetown.

But anyone who goes to this year's event will notice a slight change in format.

"Culinary by day and kitchen party by night," said festival chairman Liam Dolan.

This year marks the 19th anniversary for what has become the largest signature event for the P.E.I. Fall Flavours Festival.

It will see thousands of people gather at the Charlottetown Event Grounds from Sept. 18-21 for cooking demonstrations, oyster shucking competitions and other culinary events.

There will also be performances of live music throughout the festival, including The Stanfields and Signal Hill.

The biggest event will be the Feast and Frolic on Sept. 18, which has sold out for the last three years and will feature a revamped menu this year.

Dolan said in past years the festival tried to stretch the culinary events later into the evening, but the organizers found that was when people wanted to party.

That means there will still be music scattered throughout the day, but for shorter periods of time, Dolan said.

"We'll try to a do a little more of the foodie thing."

The shellfish festival is a joint effort of the P.E.I. Aquaculture Association and the P.E.I. Shellfish Association.

This year the provincial government is spending $119,500 on the festival through several departments with the federal government contributing $105,000 through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Dolan said he thinks the shellfish festival has been so successful because of the high quality of the food.

"We're showcasing the best that Canada has, as far as I'm concerned."

For Chef Michael Smith this will be his fourth time at the festival and said he is back because it is one of the highlights of his year.

"I don't think you'll ever meet somebody more proud of Prince Edward Island than me," he said.

Smith said it's a world-class event and is an opportunity to bring a focus on the province's shellfish industry in a fun, entertaining way.

"It's as good as it gets for food festivals."

With the shellfish festival running into the shoulder season, Smith said he thinks it will be a great end to what has been busy year for tourism.

"It's been a big year for the Island and this is going to be one of the best ways to end that year."

Tickets for the festival are available online at www.peishellfish.com, at the Eastlink Centre box office or by calling 1-866-955-2003.