While most people at the second annual Oyster Stroll wandered around Westminster's downtown for the food, music and beer, one group in particular was focused on helping to rebuild the bay.
Two fish tanks filled with water sit next to each other, nearly identical in every way but one.
On the right, the tank is murky — algae growth clouds the water with a green tint, making it impossible to see through. On the left, the tank is mostly clear, thanks to a layer of oysters along the bottom.
And while most people at the second annual Oyster Stroll on Saturday wandered around Westminster's downtown for the food, music and beer, one group in particular was focused on helping to rebuild the bay.
It's the first year the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has had a stand at the stroll to collect shells for recycling, said Karl Willey, the Maryland oyster restoration manager for the foundation. Willey stood at a small booth Saturday with brochures, his two fish tanks and buckets of oyster shells.
Willey's — and the foundation's — goal is reef restoration.
The foundation, he said, is collecting recycled oyster shells so they can put up to nine spats — or immature oysters — onto the recycled shells before putting them in the waters of the bay. The oysters feed on algae, which helps keeps the water clean, working like a filter, he said.
Those at the Oyster Stroll turned out for the street fair despite Saturday's rain showers. Groups walked from booth to booth trying oysters from different farms, seasoning with sauces or lemon juice before throwing them back like a shot.
Live music — an ensemble complete with trombone, mingling near the alcohol station, with an acoustic guitarist on a street corner — mixed with the sound of shell cracking, as booth operators kept up with demand.
Julie Nicely, of Westminster, was taking on the stroll for the first time. Unlike other attendees, oysters weren't her reason for checking out the scene.