Annual Big Curri-shuck fest celebrates the oyster and much more

The Big Curri-Shuck at Sanctuary Vineyards combines a wealth of local seafood and regional fare.

Traditionally, oysters were considered to be at their peak in months with an “R” in their names. Serving up 100 bushels of the tasty mollusks, the Big Curri-Shuck festival at Sanctuary Vineyards promises a real treat for oyster lovers.

Curri-Shuck begins at noon and runs until 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24. A hayride through the scenic Sanctuary vineyard will run throughout the day. Several bands, including B.J. Griffin and the Galaxy Grove, will also perform.

Now in its seventh year, Curri-Shuck organizers expect the massive haul of oysters at the Thanksgiving weekend event will be plenty for the oyster lovers to eat until they are full of the steamed bivalves, eaten plain or garnished to taste. Essayist Jonathan Swift said of oysters and their unique and sometimes off-putting appearance more than 400 years ago: "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”

No matter — there’s plenty more. For those without an appetite for oysters there will be steamed crab, pork barbecue and lots of sides. Samples of several local craft beers will be offered, and of course 15 types of Sanctuary’s noted wines will be available. Samples of beer and wine are included in the price of admission, while a fuller pour can be purchased in a free signature wineglass provided at the event entrance.

“This is a very festive event — it’s definitely not stiff or low-key. It attracts people who know what they’re looking for. Great food, wines, beer and music make for a real party atmosphere,” says Wright. “Lots of people meet up with friends they haven’t seen in a while,” says John Wright, sanctuary’s general manager and seventh generation Currituck resident.

Based on huge ancient piles of shells, consumption of oysters is known to have taken place as far back as prehistory. Curri-Shuck continues that ancient culinary practice with a traditional Outer Banks fall oyster roast where the crustaceans are steamed until they begin to open and then unceremoniously dumped on tables.

Oyster eaters may also receive a sweet token of good fortune with their oysters: occasionally a pea-sized crab will have taken shelter inside an oyster before it was harvested. The small, cooked baby crabs are sweet in tastes, and popular lore has it that the person who found it will have good luck.

Mythology also says that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty, love, pleasure, and procreation, emerged from an oyster shell. Perhaps this is why some claim oysters to be an aphrodisiac.

The event site is Sanctuary Vineyards, a family farm, in Jarvisburg, just over the Wright Memorial Bridge on the mainland. It was started in 2001 by the Wright family. Curri-Shuck will be held rain or shine.

“This is a great time for of year to have an oyster roast. Not only are the oysters at their peak but the area gets a lot of visitors down for Thanksgiving week and some of them are looking to get out of the house. There’s also less traffic than the summer and everything is more relaxed,” says Wright. “It’s a chance to see the Outer Banks in a different light.”

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