Auction, bivalves, and rock ‘n roll for the Shellfish Group

Boo Bassett, Scott Castro, and Isaiah Scheffer (left to right) kept the clams and oysters coming for a long line of hungry slurpers. — Photo by Mike Colaneri

Fishermen and their friends joined forces Saturday night at the Chilmark Community Center to support the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group (MVSG), which works “to preserve and expand the Island’s traditional shellfisheries.” This was the first benefit of this sort in the organization’s 30-year history.

Amandine Surier, an MVSG biologist, organized the event, with plenty of help from Elizabeth Mellon, Emma Green-Beach, Danielle Ewart, Paul Bagnall, Scott Castro, Roxanne Kapitan, and other friends and beneficiaries of the organization. Together they assembled a fine silent auction with 58 items, including foul weather gear, wampum jewelry, artwork, fishing tackle, and the original sign for the state lobster hatchery, which fetched $600 from the family of John Hughes, who started the hatchery, even though Masachusets (sic) was misspelled.

Rick Karney, MVSG’s director, and a host of other shuckers opened more than 800 oysters and clams at a raw bar for the ages. Cultured oysters were donated by Jack Blake, Scott Castro, and Roy Scheffer; wild oysters were donated by Edgartown and Tisbury Great Ponds.

The groaning board in the front room featured chowders donated by Randy Walpole of Edgartown and Beach Plum/Home Port executive chef Teddy Diggs. Educator/fisherman John Custer donated scallops and Chef Jean Dupon of Le Grenier Restaurant offered up several quiches. An amazing platter of dark chocolate scallops and sea snails that was donated by Enchanted Chocolates in Oak Bluffs.

Beer and wine was donated by Jim’s Package Store, Tony’s Market, Our Market, Your Market, Town Provisions, Vineyard Wine and Cheese Shop, and Offshore Ale.

When the chewing and chatting was done, the fun begun, thanks to the typically lively tunes of Johnny Hoy, himself a shellfisherman, and the Bluefish. Tapping toes became stepping feet, even among the most dance-challenged.

More than $8,500 was raised to help MVSG continue their work to ensure that Island shellfish beds are as productive as they can be.