The Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival & Seafood Extravaganza will enter uncharted waters this weekend by expanding to two full days Saturday and Sunday at the Ocean Shores Convention Center.
“With what we wanted to do, we really couldn’t expand any more on Saturday,” said Diane Hansen, chairwoman of the seventh annual festival presented by the Ocean Shores/North Beach, Chamber of Commerce. “It was about as full as it could be as far as the number of people that could be there at any one time.”
Or it was about as full as your belly after trying out all the chowders available for testing, and lines last year snaked around the convention center. Hansen said the event has definitely taken hold with the public as a way to showcase area restaurants, chefs and all things celebrating the clamming traditions on the North Beach.
“This will allow people to come back and experience some of the new stuff that is going on on Sunday,” Hansen said of the plan to host cooking demonstrations on the extra day.
Chowder testing and judging, however, will still be done on Saturday.
“Now that it has become popular, we’re hoping that people who normally would just come for the day will now spend the night and we’ll get more motel and restaurant traffic out there,” said Hansen, who owns the Dusty Trunk shop at 759 Pt. Brown Ave. NW in Ocean Shores.
There is no clam dig scheduled this year, which also is a test since many of the past festivals have coincided with open beaches for digging, bringing a large number of ready-made chowder eaters into the event.
The idea is to get more recognition for the festival and for Ocean Shores, Hansen said, and the Convention Center schedule this year did not allow for a festival scheduled at the same time of a state-approved clam dig.
“We already have people here during a clam dig,” Hansen said. “So for the month of March, we have two clam digs, we have St. Paddy’s Day, we have Easter, and we have the Razor Clam Festival. So now (the festival) is doing what it’s meant to do: bring people in when there might not be anybody in town that particular weekend.”
Over the next five years, she added, there appears to be three festivals that will coincide with clam digs.
“It needs to be an event like all the other events that truly can stand alone,” she said, noting that’s why it’s also called a “Seafood extravaganza.”
There will be fewer restaurants in the cook-off this year, but all of them have competed before and they plan to showcase some of their best menu items as well as chowders.
“We’ll have a lively crew with the ones that are there,” Hansen vowed.
One of the past stars of the festival, Seattle chef Kathy Casey, won’t be in attendance this year, but Casey will have a team there representing her and selling her new book, “Delicious Deviled Eggs,” a book about, what else, deviled eggs. Casey created what is called a “Clamtastic Deviled Egg” based on the razor clam festival.
Jess Owen of Ocean Crest Resort, who won last year’s professional Judges Choice award for the best chowder, will be using Casey’s recipe at the festival to create her clam-based deviled eggs as part of several cooking demonstrations on Sunday. Samples will be available.
Judges include chef Rob Mullins from the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle, Ryan Harris from KOMO radio, and Jon Rowley, a consultant/marketer for seafood producers.
The festival kicks off with a pancake breakfast Saturday, followed by the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice Award for best chowder on the Washington coast.
You can purchase a ballot that allows you to taste all of the professional chowders and vote for your favorite.
Craft vendors open at 9 a.m. and food vendors open no later than 10:30. Admission to the festival is $3 per person/per day or $5 for a two-day pass. Children 12 and under are admitted free.
The festival promotes seafood on the North Beach and the importance of the natural resource to local social and economic welfare. It also encourages local restaurants to participate in cooking competitions.
Throughout the weekend, there will be a variety of events for entertainment. Professional and amateur (adult and junior) cook-offs will be judged by a variety of professionals from around the Northwest.
The “Creative Clam Entrée” competition is always a popular event where chefs show off their culinary talents. This year a second competition on Sunday will include the “Creative Seafood Entrée.”
Other activities will include awarding the “Best Decorated Clam Shovel;” a salute to the businesses of Ocean Shores; the Artisan Craft Marketplace featuring over 40 Northwest artists and crafters with unique and indigenous works; children’s activities and games; entertainment; information about coastal heritage, conservation and cultural exhibits; cooking demonstrations, two adult beverage bars and food.
Kids and family activities include the fun-loving pirates, a pirate ship, pony rides, face painting and the “Magic Hand.” If weather permits, there will also be the Big Purple Slide for kids and adults alike.
Presenting sponsors of the event are Jodesha Broadcasting and the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino.
For more information call the Ocean Shores / North Beach Chamber of Commerce at (360) 289-2451, or online at www.oceanshores.org/clams.