September 18, 2018

Essex Annual Shad Bake to be Held Today

Preparing Shad – Rotary Club of Essex volunteers prepare shad the traditional way by nailing them onto oak boards and using a specially prepared rub.

 

One of our State’s great culinary customs returns to the Connecticut River Museum Saturday, June 2, from 3 to 6 p.m. with the 2018 Essex Annual Shad Bake.  For 60 years, the Rotary Club of Essex has been proudly holding this annual rite of spring, nailing delicious American shad onto oak planks and roasting them around a large bonfire.  Share this wonderful Connecticut tradition with your family and friends.

Shad baking around the fire.

This year’s Bake is made possible through the generous support of Guilford Savings Bank and AJ Shea Construction.  Additional support comes from The JECM Foundation, Norman Needleman & Jacqueline Hubbard, Essex Savings Bank/Essex Financial Services, Middlesex Hospital, Gallagher Buick GMC Inc., and many other sponsors.

Representatives from the two lead sponsors, Bake Master Joseph Shea of AJ Shea Construction (left), and David Carswell Branch Manager of Guildford Savings Bank (center) join Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs to celebrate the upcoming Shad Bake.

The Museum’s executive director, Christopher Dobbs said “We are pleased to host and partner with the Rotary Club of Essex on this iconic event that celebrates part of the Connecticut River’s heritage and supports the many worthwhile projects of Rotary and Museum.”

This volunteer-run event has been organized by the Rotary Club of Essex and is coordinated by Bake Master Joseph Shea. Shea comments,“We offer one of the most unique culinary traditions in New England at one of the most majestic and historic locations. It is a winning combination!”

In addition to delicious food on Saturday, the Connecticut River Museum docks welcomes the Onrust for a second season of sailing on the Connecticut River.

The historic replica vessel Onrust will be docked at the Connecticut River Museum through mid October for public cruises and programs. Photo by Judy Preston.

At the shad bake, a variety of activities take place throughout the afternoon. Join JB Lundgren for a deboning demonstration, Saybrook Point Inn Marina and Spa for a presentation on how to cook shad roe, and Al Moncovich for a shad wood carving exhibit.  Always popular is Tim Visel’s historical diorama display of shad fishing through the years.  The Connecticut River Conservancy, The Shad Museum in Haddam and the Connecticut River Museum will also offer programs on the history and traditions of the shad fishery.

For shad lovers, the lure is the secret ingredients and the authentic method of preparing and baking the fish, which has been handed down through generations of Connecticut natives.  Nailed onto oak planks with salt pork and placed in front of the bonfire, the fish picks up the smoky flavor of the fire and the seasoned oak boards on which it is baked. Add to this delicacy homemade potato salad, tossed green salad, and pie from Lyman Orchards and your shad experience is complete.

Bill Hoffstetler demonstrates the fine art of removing bones from shad — a fish referred to by local Native Americans as the “inside out porcupine.”

Don’t care for shad?  Grilled chicken is also available. In addition to the food, participants will be able to enjoy live music and tour the Museum, which will be open until 6 p.m.  The vibrant atmosphere is enhanced with picnickers and the delicious smell of shad baking around the open fire.

Buy your tickets today.  The $30 adult (shad or chicken dinner option) and $10 child (10 and under) ticket includes the full meal (child ticket includes a hot dog and salads) and admission to the Museum.  Tickets will be an additional $5 on the day of the event.

Beer, wine and soda will be available for purchase with a valid ID.  Freshly shucked clams and oysters will also be available at an additional price beginning at 3:00 pm. No carry-in alcohol will be permitted.

To purchase tickets, visit shop.ctrivermuseum.org or buy them in person at the Centerbrook Package Store, Essex Hardware, or the Connecticut River Museum.  There will be no parking on the Museum grounds and on-street parking is very limited.  On the day of the event, a free shuttle will be running between the Museum and the Essex Town Hall parking lot.

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Mondays until after Memorial Day. The Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River.

For a full listing of Museum programs and events, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

The Rotary Club of Essex is the local chapter of Rotary International whose membership is made up of service minded professionals.  The club and its members are committed to improving the community, connecting with other professionals, sharing their time and experience with the young, supporting global causes, and using their skills to help others.

For more information about the Shad Bake and Rotary Club visit http://www.rotaryclubofessex.com.

Photo Captions:

  1. Members of The Rotary Club of Essex season and plank the Shad to cook in front of the fire just as it has been done for hundreds of years.
  2. Representative from the two lead sponsors, Bake Master Joseph Shea of AJ Shea Construction, and David Carswell Branch Manager of Guildford Savings Bank join Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs to celebrate the upcoming Shad Bake.
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