Thursday, October 25, 2007

Aw, shucks! Annual tented event brings on top slurpers

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Bill Nevruz, Shaw’s GM, with the Oysterettes and "Shucky," the event's unfortunate, pearl-wielding mascot. (Photo: Bill Werme)

For once, the weather held up nicely for the annual “Royster with the Oyster Festival,” Shaw’s Crab House’s tented post-work party celebrating all things oyster.

As always, the event—which moved this year to take over the block next to the restaurant in River North—served as the place to be for the area’s young professionals looking for something different than the usual after-work barhopping. You could tell that many of them came as soon as they got off, as most still carried their briefcases and backpacks. But before long, they were soon trading those in for the cold, frothy beers from Goose Island and nodding their heads to live blues from local rockers Tinsley Ellis.

It’s a serious singles scene (as I can attest; I’ve had my share of hookups in the past), and for once the women didn’t outnumber the men. Groups of girls and groups of guys congregated, checking each other out on the sly. “Royster” is probably the most light-hearted street festival in town, so guests are usually loosened up after the first hour of hanging out. No pretensions, and that’s always a good thing. Also, no one seemed to mind when you’re standing around slurping oysters from a paper plate.

And speaking of oysters, one of the highlights of the party was the “Grand Slurp-Off,” where some of the fastest oyster slurpers in the country faced off. We’re usually right at the front of the stage to watch all the action, but the party was so crowded that we didn’t even come close. From our far away position in the tent, we had to settle for the hooting and hollering to know that the contest was still a crowd pleaser.

It’s a shame that this shuck-a-licious fest only happens once a year.

Shaw’s Crab House, 21 E. Hubbard St. – Audarshia Townsend