A shucking good time!

E_p12_streetA trip to Gibsons, BC on Saturday, September 12, provided the opportunity to discover Shuckfest 2015, the 4th annual outdoor festival celebrating food, drink and music. Presented by Smitty’s Oyster House and the Rotary Club of Gibsons, part of the proceeds go to the local St. Bart’s Food Bank. Another purpose of the festival is the promotion of Gibsons not only as a summer place but somewhere exciting to be outside the main tourist season.

The festival took place in the parking area of the main wharf at Gibsons Landing. It was a fenced off event with full-priced tickets at $75. However, you got to eat and drink as much as you pleased for the 6-hour event, with the price being reduced as the day progressed. And with the live reggae music by Mostly Marley, people were dancing both inside and outside the fenced area.

It was a beautiful, sunny fall-like day in a quintessential BC setting, with views of mountains, sea, marinas with fishing and pleasure boats, and Keats Island in the distance.

There were, of course, local oysters and a shucking contest, and a variety of food provided by Smitty’s Oyster House. BC wines were promoted by Richard Massey whose wine agency provides access to small-farm terroir driven wines, ciders, spirits and meads made in BC. Craft beers were provided by Steamworks Brewing Co. which has a pub in Gastown and Townsite Brewing Inc., a micro brewery from Powell River.

The driving force behind Shuckfest is Stafford Lumley. He’s the former owner/operator of Rodney’s Oyster House in Vancouver. Always dreaming to have a seaside oyster house, he was thrilled to discover a run-down but historic marine building along Gibsons Wharf in 2005. It is a sturdy fir structure built and operated by Henry Smith as a marine supply centre. It flourished from 1957 to 1995; then the commercial fishing industry began to decline. It was renovated by Lumley with friend Shawn Divers and opened in 2007 as Smitty’s Oyster House, in honour of Henry Smith. The popular restaurant has been featured in the New York Times and on the Food Network. However, like many businesses in resort areas, it’s difficult to make a go of it in the off-season.

Historically, Gibsons has been a forestry and fishing community, but now tourism has become a mainstay. The beautiful seaside village with a population of approximately 4,000 has a museum, galleries, shops, restaurants and outdoor markets. There is the Plein Air Festival, part of a 3-day international event that celebrates artists painting outdoors. It coincided with Shuckfest. Many people know Gibsons as the setting for CBC’s long-running series The Beachcombers. Molly’s Reach, the famous café in the series, now functions as a genuine café celebrating its famous history.

Gibsons is located north of Vancouver on the mainland of the Sunshine Coast along Howe Sound. It’s a 40-minute ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale and then about a 10-minute ride from there. What’s fantastic is it can all be accessed by public transportation with local buses meeting the ferry and traveling up the coast as far as Halfmoon Bay.

Gibsons is an environmentally conscious community and in 2005 entered the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Contest winning first place in the world. In 2009, it was declared the “Most Livable Community in the World” (under 20,000) at the international Livcom Awards. These awards focus on local environmental management practices and are endorsed by the United Nations.

Gibsons is a great place to visit and makes an easy day trip from Vancouver. And it’s charming, no matter the time of year!