Fest Time: Music, Oysters, Avila Beach

Slurp the salty delicacy while hanging near the Pacific.

THE BEST SPOT... to slurp an oyster is wherever you come across the oyster, whether you're at a raw bar, or in a posh restaurant, or at a cookout not far from the shoreline. Oyster aficionados aren't going to get fussy about their favorite food, but if it can be well-prepared, and arrive with the traditional accouterments (horseradish, lemon), so much the better. Picture, though, actually learning how to shuck the briny gems, and perhaps even competing for an amateur or pro title, and cash, too. That's how serious — and seriously lighthearted — the Central Coast Oyster Festival is in its approach to the pop-it-open, slurp-it-down bivalve. The Avila Beach-based bash has been around for a half decade, and it is preparing to go into its 5th outing on Saturday, July 9 with bands, eats, local wines, and a...

SHUCKING CONTEST: How fast are you at getting to the good stuff? There could be a cash prize awaiting you. If you're more into the supping the salty icon, sample the glistening oysters from Grassy Bar Oyster Co. (you'll be dining upon finds from "the southern reaches of Morro Bay"). If oysters are only sort of your jam, but you dig brats and sandwiches and dessert, other sorts of edibles shall be available as well. And naturally there will be Central Coast-born libations from Castoro Cellars, Cypher Winery, and more, as well as live tunes by which to shuck and/or slurp and/or sip. As for the general sunny/breezy atmosphere that Avila Beach so deliciously delivers? That can't be packaged, of course, but it can be deftly delighted in, especially after a feast of briny bites and a locally made, oyster-enhancing beverage.

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