Nashville is a party town and there’s no better party to start off the season than Oyster Easter.
Oyster Easter was started 48 years ago by a guy named Dudley Warner who was a Vanderbilt student at the time. Some of his buddies couldn’t get home for Easter so he decided to create a party for them. “We were looking for something fun to do, so we got a keg of beer and oysters on the half shell.”
Well, it’s grown a bit since then. Now more than 500 people party hearty the Saturday before Easter with a Cajun feast from South Street, entertainment by Les Kerr and the Bayou Band, games like cornhole and a hula hoop contest, and the coveted race for Oyster King and Oyster Queen.
I am a former Oyster Queen. That’s actually how I ended up at CRC. After winning the crown by lying, stealing and cheating my way to victory (all acceptable behaviors for the candidates), I was asked to join the board. And then I was asked to take over as executive director. Funny how a few oysters and a beer or two can lead you down a path you never expected to take.
Oyster Easter has become the main fundraiser for the Community Resource
Center and the candidates do some truly inventive things to win that plastic crown. The idea is to collect the most money from your supporters. The candidates also collect oyster shells as the tie-breaker.
Last year’s king, Steve Mitchell, held Thirsty Thursdays to drum up support for his candidacy. Mercedes Jones, the queen last year, sold Jello shots. One year, a king candidate auctioned off cigars from his company on E-Bay. The only thing that’s illegal (in our wacky world) is to bring in oyster shells from outside. A candidate tried to do that one year, actually hauling a pick-up truck load in from Memphis. That was the year I ran. The other queen candidates and I ganged up on her and stopped her in her tracks.
The intent of Oyster Easter is serious business to CRC, but the actual party is just fun. Most of the guests (sadly for us) don’t realize it’s a fundraiser. It’s just a great party. “It’s a lot of foolishness after a long hard winter,” says Dudley. Yes it is.
(If you want tickets to this year’s Oyster Easter, just visit www.crcnashville.org.)