Volunteers load on fresh oysters during last year’s roast.
Volunteers load on fresh oysters during last year’s roast.

Archived Story

Oysters reign in Chuckatuck

Published 10:54pm Thursday, March 21, 2013

Oyster-lovers from across Tidewater and beyond are gearing up for the Chuckatuck Ruritan Club’s annual roast, to be held April 10 at Kirk Farm off Everets Road.

On the menu for the popular event from 3 to 6 p.m. are between 175 and 200 bushels of roasted oysters, 120 gallons of clam chowder, beer, iced tea, cocktail sauce and crackers.

“It’s everything you need for a good oyster roast,” said Kirk Pretlow, co-chair of the event and a Ruritan for over 30 years. “We do throw in some roasted, salted peanuts as well.”

To be held on a Wednesday, it will be the 37th annual installment of what Pretlow describes as the club’s primary fundraiser.

Tickets cost $30, and 100 percent of proceeds enable Chuckatuck Ruritans to sponsor community groups such as the Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department, Meals on Wheels, Relay for Life, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, “and a whole host of other things,” Pretlow said.

The club also adopts a highway, but it mainly raises money to help out other organizations, according to Pretlow.

Kirk Farm, a picturesque location, has become the home of the oyster roast via a circuitous route.

It was first held at the airport, Pretlow said, before it went to W.G. Saunders’ farm in Chuckatuck.

“Then, basically, it moved to the new location in about 1997,” Pretlow said. “We were very fortunate.”

The second move came about after the Saunders’ farm was placed on the market, Pretlow explained.

But it turned out the person who bought the farm is a Chuckatuck Ruritan anyway. “We probably could have continued to do it there … but this is a bigger site,” Pretlow said of Kirk Farm.

Prior to and during the feast, mollusks will be roasted atop a vast fire pit and delivered to tables via wheelbarrows and shovels. The clam chowder — not just any old chowder, Pretlow said, but “Chuckatuck clam chowder” — will be cooked in large pots.

For most people, along with good food, camaraderie and socializing is the draw of the event.

“Ours is bigger than any other one that I know within this area,” Pretlow said. “Folks come from Richmond and other areas, and a lot come from Tidewater and from Suffolk.”

Including helping hands from the Chuckatuck fire department, close to 50 volunteers will work during the event, he said.

Pretlow, who said he loves oysters, plans to volunteer closer to the action this year after helping man the gate in 2012.

“I want to get down the hill this year — get to where the action is,” he said. “The wheelbarrow-men and shovelers, they eat while things are going on, while they’re waiting for the oysters to get ready.”

Tickets are available by calling Pretlow & Pretlow on 539-3488, and from Saunders Supply Co., 5881 Godwin Blvd.

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