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-ninth Annual


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

Download 2018 Cook-Off Rules in a printable Adobe .pdf file

Saturday, October 20, 2018

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 August 31, 2018..  Please mail, fax, or email your recipe to:


C/O: US Oyster Festival, P.O. Box 766, California, MD 20619


Finalists selected for the 2018 contest have been properly notified. If you were unsuccessful this year, we hope to hear from you for next year’s cook off during our 53rd annual Oyster Festival!! 


  1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Finalists will be notified by September 15, 2018 and must respond with commitment to participate by September 20, 2018. There will be 9 finalists to compete – 3 contestants per division.

4. Judging is based on originality, predominance of oysters, color, and attractiveness of presentation.

5. 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.

6. Finalists will provide all recipe ingredients, mixing and cooking utensils. Fresh oysters will be provided for you.

7. 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. If your presentation requires oyster shells, you must bring your own sterilized shells.

8. 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.)

9. The Cook-Off is open to everyone. 

Oyster-cook-off-finalists-fact-sheet-2018 (Will be made available in 2019)