Riverfront Park to bustle with annual cook-off in downtown Apalachicola

Get ready for a big weekend in Apalachicola, as the ninth annual Oyster Cook-Off energizes the downtown.

The event, which begins Friday evening, Jan. 18 and continues all day Saturday, raises money to benefit the Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Department. It’s held every year on the Friday and Saturday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in downtown Apalachicola at Riverfront Park.

All proceeds go directly towards paying for the new fire truck they were able to purchase a few years ago, due to this sole fundraising event.

Organizer Marisa Getter, who helps coordinate a bevy of energetic volunteers, said about 30 artists showed up at as paint-out at the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and the Arts (HCA) last Thursday to create works of art that will be auctioned off as part of a the silent auction.

A preview of the auction begins at 6 p.m. Friday at the HCA, where viewers can take an item home by paying a set price. “Or you can bid on it and hope it’s still there Saturday evening,” said Getter.

Bidding closes Saturday at 4 p.m. In addition to the art there’s some fabulous items, including the donation of a gorgeous barbecue pit and handmade apron.

The event, of course, features oysters galore, either grilled, raw, fried or stewed, as well as peel-and-shrimp and fried shrimp, hot dogs and hamburgers offered by the fire department, local beer from the Oyster City Brewing Company, live music by the John Sutton Band, kids' activities under the direction of Jennifer Sheffield, performances by dancers from Pam Nobles Studios, dancing firefighters, and a 5K run, under the direction of Shelley Shepard, beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at Riverfront Park.

You can also enter your best recipe and be a contestant in the oyster cook-off. Top three winners receive trophy and bragging rights.

Judging the contest will be John Solomon, Donna Duncan and Samantha Gilbert, from the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce, which makes sense because the chamber team has dominated the contest in recent years, including taking home the top prize last year.

Getter said six contestants have signed up so far, but she expects more to come forward between now and the start of the completion Saturday morning. Each team cooks with local oysters provided by the cook-off. Much of what the crowd will be enjoying is imported from other parts of the Gulf of the Gulf of Mexico, due to the scarcity of available product in Apalachicola Bay.

Well-mannered pets are welcomed on a leash.

For more info or to sign up, visit www.oystercookoff.com/cook-off

Donations and volunteers jelp make this event a success. Please contact us if you would like to volunteer. Make checks payable to AVFD and send your donations to Marisa Getter, c/o Oyster Cook-Off, P.O. Box 86, Apalachicola, FL 32329