Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group                                The Cove chef and co-owner Damien Cortez sifts through a new shipment of mussels from Penn Cove Shellfish.

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group The Cove chef and co-owner Damien Cortez sifts through a new shipment of mussels from Penn Cove Shellfish.

Musselfest to kick off with Friday Mingle

Whidbey’s biggest party celebrating all things mussel is back and bigger than ever before for its 34th year.

Rain or shine, the fun will happen March 6-8.

Though most of the events are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Mussel Mingle on Friday, March 6 has traditionally been a time for Central Whidbey locals to unite while enjoying beer gardens and live music.

“We’ve all been hunkered down in our houses because of the gray rain,” Vickie Chambers, executive director of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association, said. “This is a time when you come out and see the neighbors that may only live four houses down from you.”

During Saturday and Sunday, mussel lovers can purchase tickets to taste chowder, participate in the eating competition or take a boat tour of the Penn Cove Shellfish farm.

“It’s the only two days of the year that the farm does tours,” Chambers said. “I don’t think people realize that.”

Chowder-tasting tickets, $10 each for four restaurants, tend to sell out fast on Saturdays, and she cautions people to buy them earlier in the day rather than later. Sunday tickets are currently available for purchase online.

This is the first year for The Cove, a new restaurant on the wharf. Chef and co-owner Damien Cortez said he and his team cooked up the idea for a “Southwestern Chipotle” style of mussel chowder.

“This is our first one, but I feel like we’re really prepared for it,” Cortez said. “I have several employees who have worked Musselfest before.”

One hidden gem of the event, the cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs, are free to attend and happen both days from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Coupeville Rec Hall. All recipes include mussels.

And for people who aren’t thrilled about the briny, blue mollusks, several other food options are available. Vendors will be selling hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, paella and fries.

A new activity this year, kids will be able to decorate miniature models of boats made from scrap materials.

Although there are ticket fees for many of the mussel activities, it is possible to attend Musselfest without spending any money.

Live music is a big portion of the event, and it’s all free. Marcus Whiting, Tillers Folly, Burlington Rail and Steve Trembley Band will all be performing under the Penn Cove Shellfish farm tent.

Open on Saturday only, the Penn Cove Shellfish tent will give all proceeds from mussel, beer and wine sales to the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club and a STEM scholarship for a high school senior.

Musselfest to kick off with Friday Mingle
Musselfest to kick off with Friday Mingle

More in Life

Frances Schultz, holding a picture of her younger self, recently turned 100 years old. Her daughter, Connie Van Dyke, right, said her mother’s photo looks like one of actress Barbara Stanwyck. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
At 100, Oak Harbor woman reflects on busy life

Frances Schultz turned 100 years old on March 30.

Joel Atienza’s uniform’s USAF/USSF patches prior to transfer. Photo provided
Oak Harbor 2010 grad selected for U.S. Space Force

Joel Atienza’s advice to Space Force hopefuls? “Remember, ‘The sky is not the limit.’”

The Oystercatcher’s owner and chef, Tyler Hansen, prepares a dozen 3 Sisters beef bolognese lasagnas to go on the shelves at 3 Sisters Market. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Chef liaises with other business owners

A Coupeville chef has expanded his partnership with local business owners to… Continue reading

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Third grader Laszlo McDowell gets up close and personal with a gray whale skull.
Students learn about being ‘whale-wise’

South Whidbey Elementary School students got a taste of what it would be like to live as gray whales.

Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop in Langley, hangs a purple neon star he made on the wall of his arcade. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group
Neon art show colorizes Machine Shop’s reopening

A cacophony of happy buzzers and bells and a riot of glowing… Continue reading

Color Guard Capt. Mike Hutchins, at left, and John Kraft present the Sons of the American Revolution Bronze Good Citizenship Medal to Bobbi Lornson, center. (Photo by Teresa Addison)
Oak Harbor woman awarded ‘Good Citizenship’ medal

Bobbi Lornson, past president of the Oak Harbor Lions Club president and volunteer, was recently recognized for her contributions to the community.

Rockin’ A Hard Place | All aboard for my big, post-jab Rock adventure

All aboard for my big, post-jab Rock adventure!

Rishi Sharma checks levels in his camera before interviewing WWII combat veteran Frank Burns of Freeland last Saturday. Sharma travels the country interviewing WWII combat veterans for his oral history project and nonprofit, Heroes of the Second World War. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Recording for posterity tales of WWII vets across the U.S.

Rishi Sharma has met more than 1,100 World War II combat veterans to document their stories.

Viggo Cerrato, 6, pets a young Shamo rooster named Baby Boy. Cascadia Heritage Farm is currently in the midst of a project to “invigorate” a rare breed of chicken. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group
Farm promoting genetic diversity, a flock at a time

North Whidbey’s Cascadia Heritage Farm focuses on preserving critically endangered breeds.

An Anna’s Hummingbird feeds from a red-flowering currant on Whidbey Island. Photo by Martha Ellis
Native plant habitat a wild bird’s best friend

Spring couldn’t come soon enough this year, not for just the birds, but for the nature enthusiasts.

Teaser
Jason Blair, owner of Red Fish, Blue Fish, nets an angelfish.
Finny business: ‘Fish Nerd’ opening new shop

The store is coming to Greenbank Farm this spring.