Participating in the Oyster Cook-Off

The Oyster Cook-off is supported by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Seafood Marketing Program, the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Rotary Club of Lexington Park.

Thirty-eighth Annual


Part of the US Oyster Festival in St. Mary’s County, MD

Saturday, October 21, 2017

St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds

Leonardtown, MD


Hors d’oeuvres,

Soups & Stews, and

Main Dishes



1ST                  $300

2ND                 $200

3rd                   $150


Contestants must submit one or more recipes by July 31, 2017.  Please mail, fax, or email your recipe to:



C/O: Department of Economic Development

Agriculture and Seafood Division

P.O. Box 653

Leonardtown, MD  20650

Phone: (240) 309-4021


Finalists for the 2017 contest have been notified.   If you were unsuccessful this year, we hope to hear from you for next year’s cook off during our 52st Oyster Festival!! 


  • Type or print your original recipe on 8½” X 11” paper. List all ingredients and provide full instructions. (Original Recipe = contestant must be the creator of recipe and able to attend contest in person to prepare the dish for judging; no substitutions allowed). Include name, address, telephone number, and email address on the bottom, front side of page.
  • All recipes become the property of the National Oyster Cook-Off. Entry constitutes permission to edit, adapt, publish or otherwise use recipe without further compensation.
  • Finalists will be notified by August 31, 2016 and must respond with commitment to participate by September 4, 2016 to ensure that there are nine finalist contestants to compete (3 contestants per division).
  • Judging is based on originality, predominance of oysters, color, and attractiveness of presentation.
  • Finalists are responsible for transportation to St. Mary’s County, Md., to prepare recipe at Cook-Off. Friday night complimentary hotel accommodation are provided for contestants, and all are invited to attend the welcoming reception on Friday evening.
  • Finalists will provide all recipe ingredients, mixing and cooking utensils. Fresh oysters will be provided for you.
  • Fresh oysters must be the predominant part of the dish. Recipe must use a minimum of 1 pint of oysters or 1 dozen fresh oysters in the shell. Contestants must specify whether they want shucked or un-shucked oysters, and if they require oyster shells for their presentation.
  • Contestants are limited to 1 hour for the prep and cooking of recipe. Recipes must be prepared double, one set-up for the judges and one for the photographers and press (this second portion will be served to the crowd for the People’s Choice votes.)
  • The Cook-Off is open to everyone.

Oyster-cook-off-finalists-fact-sheet-2017 (Will be made available in 2018)

The U.S. Oyster Cook-off 2017 Grand Prize winner qualifies to compete as a contender in the World Food Championships