A downeast kitchen party for P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival

Published on September 12, 2017

Liam Dolan, chairman of the P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival, says this year’s event will feature at least 22 varieties of oysters and an attempt to create the world’s longest continuous lobster roll. The event runs Thursday to Sunday at the Charlottetown Event Grounds.

©Dave Stewart/The Guardian

It could be a record-setting year for the 22nd annual P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival.

The top chefs from across Canada will be coming together once again for the event at the Charlottetown Event Grounds from Thursday to Sunday.

Liam Dolan, chairman of the festival, says this year chefs will be looking to make the world’s longest continuous lobster roll.

“It’s going to be 200 feet this year, continuous,’’ Dolan said. “We made it last year at 120 (feet) but Shediac (N.B.) beat us in August and went to 180 feet.”

A shellfish festival in Maine also claims to have made a 180-foot-long lobster roll but Dolan said it doesn’t count because they used submarine buns and stuck them together.

“We’ll have an oven and we just literally feed it in, like a pizza that comes out the other end. We’ll document it and send it to Guinness (World Records) and maybe start a division for that.’’


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The size of the festival in Charlottetown has grown over the years as much as the length of the lobster rolls.

The festival ran the first two years on a budget of $8,000. Now, it costs $670,000 to run and $19,000 to market.

“You’re marketing Prince Edward Island; you’re marketing Charlottetown.’’

It was originally called the Charlottetown Oyster Festival as an attempt to give the shoulder tourism season a boost. It launched it in the banquet room at the Charlottetown Yacht Club.

Dolan then moved it to his Peakes Quay restaurant before it outgrew that location and moved three years later.

He put it under a tent in the adjacent parking lot the following year.

“It just got bigger and bigger and bigger until we outgrew the parking lot and now we’ve outgrown the event grounds. I need more space. There’s not enough room.’’

Over the years, they’ve added mussels, lobster and beef to make it a true food festival.

“It’s nice to see it’s nourished to get it to where it is today,’’ Dolan said.


- Cookbook signings with Foot Network Canada’s chef Lynn Crawford.
- 12 Canadian chefs compete for spot in finals of the Garland Canada International Chef Challenge.
- P.E.I. bartenders compete for best Mott’s Clamato Caesar.
- Oyster shucking.

– Cookbook signings with Food Network Canada’s chef Lynn Crawford.
- Chowder championship.
- Oyster shucking championship.
- Final six chefs battle for spot in chef challenge.

- Final two chefs compete for $10,000.
- Cookbook signings with Food Network Canada’s chef Lynn Crawford.
- Sample 12 chowders from local chefs.
- World’s longest lobster roll attempt.


This year’s event will feature at least 22 varieties of oysters and more local chefs. Chef Irwin MacKinnon of Papa Joe’s will cater the dinner party while chefs from Sim’s, the oyster house and ADL will handle the chowder.

The Food Network is sending down Chuck Hughes and Lynn Crawford to add some spice.

The chefs challenge, where the winner gets $10,000, will feature an all-Canadian lineup.

“The guy that won last year used the $10,000 to open his own restaurant,’’ Dolan said.

Entertainment will feature Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Big Bad Party Band, Trinity Bradshaw, Signal Hill and Matt Minglewood.

John Cudmore, manager of the Holman Grand Hotel in Charlottetown, said it is completely booked.

“I see success when we can come up with an event that will draw tourists and support the local restaurants plus appeal to Islanders, be affordable and entertaining to the locals as well,’’ Cudmore said. “We know we have a winner when that happens.’’

Wayne Long, events development officer with the City of Charlottetown, said the festival has become a major force in the city.

“Events like this are a real asset when it comes to the shoulder tourism season,’’ Long said. “This particular event is phenomenal at any time of the year but the impacts that it creates as we move into the fall have substantial impact in our city.’’

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