What's the catch? Thousands flock to Charlottetown to taste Island seafood

Thousands are gathering in Charlottetown this weekend for the P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival. It’s been a long time coming for some because of COVID-19.

P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival makes its long-awaited return

Thousands piled under a tent in downtown Charlottetown this weekend for a taste of Island seafood. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Thousands are gathering in Charlottetown this weekend for the P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival.

It's been a long time coming for some because of COVID-19. The festival was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

Now fishers and industry leaders are excited to showcase their products once more.

"It's exciting," said chef Kevin Boyce, who co-ordinated the international chef competition. "It's nice to have the people back on the island as get the tourists back and seeing what we have to offer."

Chef Kevin Boyce is the co-ordinator of the international chef competition. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Having chefs compete in front of thousands of onlookers over the weekend helps them learn how to work under pressure, Boyce said.

"I think it builds their confidence," he said. "I mean they get to see what it's like to be in front of a large environment if they're not used to that already and … it gets good exposure for them, for their restaurants back home."

People from across North America took in the event surrounded by oysters, mussels, lobster and other seafood dishes.

Oysters are not hard to come by at the P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Scott Dennis of the P.E.I. Shellfish Association said he's happy to be back shucking oysters for people who come from around the world to taste local seafood.

"It's very good for the industry, it gives us a lot of exposure," he said. "It's awesome. It's my favourite week of the year, actually."

Denton Chappell fishes mussels and oysters off the South Shore. He was focused on what chefs had on offer.

"With the chefs that we have, they teach a lot of people new recipes, how to introduce shellfish into their meals," he said.

"It's great to see everybody out and enjoying themselves and enjoying the shellfish industry."

Lobster rolls are a popular item at the festival. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Denton's brother, Dustin Chappell, echoed those thoughts.

"I think this is great," he said. "There are more people buying seafood from off the Island. "It just helps. It helps our industry a lot."

The final day for the festival is Sunday where the winner of the international chef challenge will be named.


Tony Davis grew up on P.E.I. and studied journalism at Holland College. He can be contacted at


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