Weekend’s Coupeville MusselFest draws record attendance

Clear skies and national promotion brought record crowds into Coupeville over the weekend.

An estimated 6,000 people filled the streets Saturday and 3,000-4,000 Sunday, exceeding expectation, according to the event organizer.

“It is everything we have been working toward,” said organizer Cindy Olson.

Organizers sold out chowder tasting tickets by 11:30 a.m. Saturday,  and by day’s end, groups were having to make supply runs.

Penn Cove Shellfish alone cooked 1,300 pounds of mussels on Saturday, said Karen Jefferds, assistant general manager.

Jefferds said, in all, the company harvested 6,000 pounds of mussels for the event, including the additional 1,000 pounds it had to harvest Sunday morning.

Restaurants served up  a total of 15,000 samples in the chowder competition. Captain Whidbey Inn took home the winning entrant with its mussel and salmon chowder.

Two off-island competitors won the mussel eating contest.

Matt Dunk from Port Alberni, British Columbia, won Saturday. Sara Sessions, a 2014 champion from Seattle, won Sunday.