VIMS’ Oystoberfest Combines Homecoming, Anniversary Celebrations

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VIMS is combining classic Oktoberfest beer and bratwurst with delicious Virginia oysters for "Oystoberfest." (Courtesy VIMS)
VIMS is combining classic Oktoberfest beer and bratwurst with delicious Virginia oysters for “Oystoberfest.” (Courtesy VIMS)

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science is continuing its 75th anniversary celebration Friday with “Oystoberfest.”

In 1930, College of William & Mary biology professor Donald W. Davis first set forth his vision for a marine lab in Virginia.

Though VIMS’ predecessor, the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory, did not officially open its doors until a decade later, the 75th anniversary marks the beginning of the collaboration between Davis and the college.

The organization now boasts a three-part mission that includes conducting research, educating citizens and providing advisory services to policy makers and industries. It is among the largest marine research and education centers in the U.S. and the work done there has effects locally, nationally and internationally.

Since much of the early concern over the health of Virginia’s waterways was tied to the booming local oyster industry, which took off in the latter part of the 19th century, event planners felt an oyster roast would be a fitting celebration to add to VIMS’ anniversary lineup.

Recent aquacultural research breakthroughs have “helped a once-struggling Virginia oyster industry stage a remarkable rebound,” according to a recent VIMS news release, are further cause for celebration.

“Oystoberfest” is the first event of its kind and will be held in conjunction with William & Mary’s Homecoming festivities taking place this weekend.

Tribe alumni as well as local supporters are invited to gather on VIMS’ Gloucester Point campus overlooking the York River and enjoy a night of music from Slapnation Band and all-you-can-eat half-shell or flame-roasted oysters.

For those who are not as partial to shellfish but still wish to support VIMS’ mission of contributing to a healthier Chesapeake Bay, bratwurst, craft beer and other tasty treats will also be served up.

The event is one of many initiatives that VIMS’ is undertaking to observe its 75th anniversary. Several other upcoming events, including a lecture about water on other planets and a documentary screening about navigators of the world’s oceans, are being promoted on the organization’s online anniversary event calendar.

The VIMS website also boasts an extensive timeline and retrospective of the history of VIMS and the measurable influences it has had on the world’s water systems.

Visitors to the site can browse charts and graphs, photo galleries and previous press coverage pertaining to VIMS. Fans can even submit their own “Happy Birthday” videos describing what the organization has meant to them.

Tickets to Oystoberfest, which will take place rain or shine from 6:30 to 9 p.m,. are $75 per person, with $25 from each ticket sale serving as a tax-deductible donation to the VIMS Foundation. To purchase tickets, click here.

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