St. Clare festival changes name because of a lack of oysters

The St. Clare Fall Fest will have plenty of food and family fun this weekend. What will be in short supply are the oysters the festival was once known for.
Updated: Oct. 18, 2019 at 5:35 PM CDT
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WAVELAND, Miss. (WLOX) - Friday was preparation day for the St. Clare Fall Fest.

Lots of potatoes have to be sliced and diced for the pounds of potato salad. It won’t be long before the catfish will be ready for frying, and the desserts are almost too pretty to eat.

However, what will be scarce are the oysters the festival was once famous for.

“Charbroiled, on the half shell, raw, fried, po-boys, we had it all,” said organizer John Pucheau.

This year, the pickings are slim. The freshwater intrusion, which caused so much damage this summer, made the main course a scarce commodity. So, fried oysters will be all that’s offered.

Pucheu said the necessary name change is disappointing, but not a deterrent.

“I would have liked to have kept the same name so people would get used to hearing the same name year after year," he said. "It’s kind of hard when you switch from one name to another name. It’s like, ‘Well, they’re not having oysters, I don’t know if I want to go.’ But we are having oysters - fried oysters anyway.”

The fundraising festival, with partner Silver Slipper Casino, will have a robust menu to make up for the loss as well as entertainment and activities for the children.

Pucheu works side by side with his wife, Mary Ann, on this and many other projects.

“The it factor is the participation of our parishioners and the dedication they have to our church,” she said. “Because we want it to be like a family atmosphere from the youngest ones to even the oldest ones. In fact, our children are going to run the lemonade stand.”

She believes changing the name won’t harm the brand.

“We’re known for our seafood festival and a good festival that we put on,” she added. “So, I think that people will know that if we’re putting it on, it’s going to be a good one.”

The festival will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at the church on Beach Boulevard in Waveland.

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