NC Oyster Festival oysters are from SC

SHALLOTTE, NC (WECT) - The oysters that will be served at the 2010 North Carolina Oyster Festival are actually from South Carolina.

They aren't from North Carolina because of a timing issue.  The oyster beds in North Carolina open for the season on October 15, just one day before the festival in Ocean Isle Beach. That's not enough time to gather, wash, and prepare the oysters for thousands of people to eat.

Even though the festival oysters aren't local, they aren't traveling too far to get to Brunswick County. They're from Beaufort, South Carolina.

Lloyd's Oyster House in Shallotte is in charge of getting the oysters washed, sorted, and ready for the festival on Saturday and Sunday.

On Thursday, three workers spent the day hosing down huge sacks full of oysters.

LLoyd Milliken, the owner of Lloyd's Oyster House, said the South Carolina oysters will taste pretty familiar to North Carolinians.

"They're more like our local oysters in the river here, but they're not as large as the ones from Texas," said Milliken, who used to supply the Oyster Festival with Texas and Louisiana oysters. "[The South Carolina oysters] are, I think, more salty and more tasty than what they are there."

As a 45-year oyster business veteran, and the man in charge of shelling out the festival oysters for decades, Milliken would know.

He said he would like to see the large Gulf oysters at the festival again, like in years past, but that just isn't an option this year. The BP oil spill is still wreaking havoc on Louisiana's shellfish supply.

Milliken does, however, currently have some oysters from private beds in Texas at his oyster house.  He said the spill hasn't affected the Texas oysters like the ones in Louisiana.

He said Visitors to the oyster festival can be assured their oysters will be safe and plentiful.

The North Carolina Oyster Festival will be held October 16-17 on the island of Ocean Isle Beach at 2nd Street, next to the Museum of Coastal Carolina.

Festival hours are Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is $5 per person or free for children under eight years old.

The Festival is sponsored by the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce.

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