Georgetown’s historic Oyster Eat draws patrons from near and far

GEORGETOWN – Bushels upon bushels of raw and steamed oysters were eaten.

A lot of Coors Light and 16 Mile beer was consumed – some unintentionally spilled on the temporary sawdust flooring of Georgetown Fire Company Station 77.

Bluegrass music and cigar smoke filled the air.

Patrons from Georgetown, neighboring Sussex County communities, the state of Delaware and far beyond Delaware’s borders congregated often elbow to elbow Friday evening for the 81st edition of the fire company’s historic Oyster Eat.

“We like oysters and we like to drink beer,” said Georgetown resident Jimmy Larsen Jr., who attended his sixth Oyster Eat with his father Jimmy Larsen Sr. “We shoot deer, we drink beer and we eat oysters.”

“Life is good,” said Mr. Larsen Sr. “It’s good people.”

They bought commemorative hats and T-shirts and didn’t mind if things got a bit messy or smelly.

“Yeah, that’s part of the fun,” said Mr. Larsen Sr.

“You see old friends you haven’t seen in years,” said Mr. Larsen Jr. “It’s a great time.”

D.J. Vail of Baltimore crossed the Bay Bridge to attend yet another Oyster Eat. “I’ll be here next year, and the year after that, and the year after that,” he said. “I can’t wait to go to the 100th one. I’ll be old by then but that’s OK, I’ll be here.”

Jeremy Dvorak and a couple dozen comrades rolled in from the Elton, MD area. “We came in two vans,” he said. “We’ve got designated drivers.”

Patrons also came from North Carolina and Minnesota.

Garrett Johnson and Todd Burrell flew in Thursday from Minneapolis. They fly out Sunday.

“It’s my seventh Oyster Eat,” said Mr. Burrell, who attended Salisbury University.

“In Minnesota if we did this it would be a fish fry,” said Mr. Johnson, an Oyster Eat rookie.

“So, instead of oysters we’d have walleye,” said Mr. Burrell.

It was a local boy, Ed McQuade of Lewes, who left with the Oyster Eat’s auction prize: an oyster knife and sheath hand-crafted by Rocky Green and son Neil Green.

Mr. McQuade’s bid of $3,900 finalized the spirited auction bidding orchestrated by State Rep. Dave Wilson, assisted by State Sen. Ernie Lopez and Michael Briggs, the fire company’s Oyster Eat committee chairman.

Foot-stomping entertainment was provided by award-winning bluegrass artist Danny Paisley & the Southern Grass. Mr. Paisley was the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year in 2016.

Few women in the history of the Oyster Eat have frequented the event, which is unofficially a “stag” event.

Wilmington resident Jennifer Myers ventured into the man-cave Friday night, following in the footsteps of her father, a Seaford DuPont worker, brothers and uncles. “It’s my first time,” she said, adding she was having a very good time.

The Oyster Eat was recognized by the United States Congress for its “historical and cultural significance” during U.S. Rep. Michael Castle’s tenure in Washington.

Its immense notoriety landed a feature spread in the New York Times in 1992.

The four-hour event ended at midnight and within hours Station 77 was slated to be back in normal service operations.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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