Tangier Island Becomes 8th Region on the Virginia Oyster Trail

Jul 25, 2016

Last week Virginia added a few more miles and an eighth oyster flavor to its 250 mile Oyster Trail. The latest region includes oysters grown out in the waters that surround Tangier Island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. 

Craig Suro of Tangier Oyster Company, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Sec. Todd Haymore prepare to taste Suro's oysters.

First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore traveled to the island to make the announcement, which also honored Tangier's heritage.

“This after all is a celebration of the oyster and the people who grow them. A celebration of the families and stories and generations behind this important moment.”

Before leaving, the guests of honor were given a lesson in oyster shucking from Phil Valliant, whose White Stone Oyster Company is in the trail's sixth region.

“This muscle right there attaches top and bottom scrape it there. It's more of a scrape than a slice. Falls down, nice thick oyster.”

Fresh oysters from out in Tangier Sound in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay grown by Tangier Island Company.

Unfortunately, the rest of us never got to taste those oysters. The reason given was the island is dry and part of the experience of the trail is oyster wine pairings. If you do take the hour ferry from Maryland or Virginia, wine or no wine, it's worth having a meal of fresh Tangier oysters. You can also go out and get your own, or at least see how it's done, by hiring a Tangier watermen or visiting the museum. Sherri Smith director for the Oyster Trail recommends spending time on the Island.

“When you stay overnight you really get a full feel and flavor of the people of Tangier Island. As a visitor for just a few hours you will take away a desire to come back another day to be there in the evening when the sun goes down and the stars come out and everything is just gorgeous and quiet.”

On the ferry ride back, we were treated to a pod of dolphins and weather that allowed an exceptionally clear view for miles on bay. I plan on returning for some fresh oysters and an iced cold lemonade.