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Mussels star this weekend in Coupeville

The chowder contest is one of the more popular events of the Penn Cove Mussel Festival taking place this weekend in Coupeville.  - File photo
The chowder contest is one of the more popular events of the Penn Cove Mussel Festival taking place this weekend in Coupeville.
— image credit: File photo

Penn Cove’s humble but famous mollusk will be celebrated during Coupeville’s first festival of 2011.

The Penn Cove MusselFest begins Friday night and continues throughout the weekend. The three-day event March 4-6  features a chowder contest, live music and, seemingly,  billions and billions of mussels.

The festival kicks off Friday night with the “Mussel Mingle” at the Coupeville Recreation Hall located on Alexander Street beginning at 5:30 p.m.

“That’s just a great community event,” said Beth Graves, owner of Bayleaf who is a member of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association, which is sponsoring and coordinating the event. Karl and Larry of the Halyards will perform and fresh mussels will be available. Tickets cost $20 and they can be purchased from the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce, Aqua and Bayleaf.

The festival swings into full gear Saturday when the mussel chowder contest takes place. A dozen restaurants in the Coupeville area are participating this year — Christophers, The Cove Thai Cuisine, Ebey’s Bowl, Front Street Grill, Kim’s Cafe, Knead n Feed, Mosquito Fleet Galley, Oystercatcher, Pizza Factory, Ship of Fools at the Captain Whidbey Inn, Toby’s and the Tyee. A free shuttle will be available to transport voters to all the restaurants. Ballots can be purchased at the Coupeville Recreation Hall and voting will take place both Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10.

Several chefs will be on hand Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Recreation Hall to demonstrate delicious ways to cook mussels.

Chefs scheduled to display their culinary skills are:
• David Curtis or McCormick and Schmicks in Seattle.
• Blair King of the Brooklyn in Seattle.
• Rawle Jefferds of Penn Cove Shellfish.
• Chris Garr of Ivar’s Acres of Clams.

Throughout the weekend, the Glacier Spirit will provide tours of the Penn Cove mussel rafts from the Coupeville Wharf.

The Penn Cove Shellfish Mussel and Beer garden will be open for business from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday. Proceeds from the beer garden will benefit the Boys and Girls Club in Coupeville.

One of the more popular events during the Mussel Festival takes place at 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday with the mussel eating contest. Contestants will see who can munch  the most mussels the fastest.

Children will have activities at the Island County Museum and several other events are scheduled during the weekend.

The Whidbey Island Bicycle Club is holding its “Mussels in the Kettles” mountain run held at Fort Ebey State Park and the neighboring kettles trails. For more information or to register for the bike ride, visit www.whidbeybicycleclub.org.

The Spring Art Studio tour also takes place Saturday and Sunday. A map and more information can be found at www.whidbeyworkingartists.com.

A complete list of events for the Penn Cove Mussel Festival can be found at www.thepenncovemusselfestival.com.

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