Mystic Lobster Festival

In Season, Spring
on May 1, 2006
Mark Boughton

New England and seafood go together like, well, lobster and butter, and you can enjoy the best of both at the annual Lobsterfest at the seaport in Mystic, Conn. Locals consider the fest, sponsored by the Mystic Rotary Club and scheduled for May each year, to be one of the sure signs of the coming of summer.

But the crowd gathered around the steamer isn’t limited to Nutmeggers.

“People come back year after year,” says Tony Lee, the club’s past president and an event regular. “Some come from as far away as Britain and other European countries. I’m not saying they come just for Lobsterfest, but they make sure to plan their vacations to include it.”

Surprisingly, the other thing that isn’t local is the main course itself. Lee says the lobsters—more than 3,500 of them—are shipped from Nova Scotia. Then they’re steamed and served up with salad, corn on the cob and a roll—and the buttery grins of those in attendance are proof there’s little difference between local crustaceans and the imports.

Lobsterfest is held annually over Memorial Day weekend, and thousands line up to crack their favorite crustacean during the three-day event. For approximately $20, you can shell, shuck and suck up the succulent meat of a single lobster. Bigger appetites can order a twin lobster for a slightly higher price. Dress is picnic casual—but a lobster bib is strictly optional.

Lee and the other Rotary members, more than 50 in all, plan, promote and man the event, which benefits local and international charities. “We contribute huge amounts to local charities and give numerous scholarships to local high schools each year,” says Lee. The event usually rakes in more than $20,000, but those enjoying the claws don’t seem to mind the pincher.

—Mary Dixon LeBeau, a food writer in West Deptford, N.J.

Found in: In Season, Spring