Triplicate Staff

The 23rd annual Oyster Festival is Saturday in Arcata from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

A summer tradition on the Arcata Plaza, the Oyster Festival has grown into a big event attracting thousands of people.

The festival has become a tradition for local culinary artists, restaurateurs and executive chefs to show off their oyster-preparing skills in every conceivable way.

Try them raw, barbecued, fried, or with a secret sauce or salsa or just add a squeeze of lemon.

More than 30 food vendors will be cooking up creative dishes.

General admission costs $10 for adults and $5 for those ages 13andndash;17. Children 12 and under get in free.

Oysters capture the essence of the sea, and Humboldt County has made sure to capture its fun-loving spirit with Arcata Main Street's annual festival.

June marks the peak of the oyster season in Humboldt County, where more than 70 percent of the fresh oysters consumed in the state are grown.

Humboldt Bay is known for its Kumamoto and Pacific oysters. The shallow and productive waters of the bay, combined with just the right temperatures and salinity levels, create the ideal growing conditions for these tasty mollusks.

Each and every bivalve gobbled up or slurped down during the festival will have been locally farmed using long lines, rafts and cages or the "rack and bag" method, which avoids destructive dredging of the bay and its eelgrass beds and nursery habitats.

The festival also features live music, contests, a kids' area and plenty of non-oyster food.

The festivities will start at 10 a.m. with the Oyster Calling Contest kicking off the fun at 10:30 a.m., near the main stage. Both children and adults will try to coax the celebrated mollusks out of their shells through songs, strange noises, dances and kooky costumes.

Live music begins at 11:15 a.m. The Point's Shuck and Swallow Contest will take place at 12:45 p.m., in which contestants attempt to shuck and swallow 48 oysters in under five minutes.

For more information about the Oyster Festival, contact Arcata Main at (707) 822-4500