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Monday, April 21, 2014

Keep Clam

I spent a short weekend down at Long Beach.  For Earth day weekend, the Beach Clean required attendance.  A bonus this time is that Long Beach has returned to an old tradition and it was time to enjoy the Razor Clam Festival.


I was able to slip out of work a bit early and get a head start on the holiday weekend traffic.  Four hours slips by quickly and just as I got to Long Beach the sun made a brief appearance.  I went for a walk around town before dinner.  It was the calm before the storm.

This weekend pretty much marks the end of the Razor Clam season.  Spawning will start soon and to preserve the quality of the clamming, digging ends now.  The state Fish and Game monitor the beaches with test digs and open the beaches to clamming as the test digs indicate.  Sometimes there is very little notice and folks who are dedicated to the clam are prepared to drop everything and hit the beach at low tide.

Even in foul weather

This weekends low started after sunrise so the beach clean started a bit later than usual.  Weather was horribly wet and even with my waterproof pants and boots my feet still got soggy.  The rain ran down the pants legs into the cuff of my high boots.  It was too late ( water under the bridge, so to speak) and by the time I noticed I was getting wet.  The wind was really whipping things around and the plastics I gathered int my bag started making cuts in the bag.  I found a flat screen TV.  It really weighed a ton and I was surprised it could strand far above the high tide line.  I guess that is good evidence of the force of the winter storms.

I gathered garbage for 1 1/2 hours.  After my second sack started falling apart I called it good and went back to my room to change.  Of course the rain stopped by the time I got there and for the rest of the afternoon it was partly sunny with the occasional sprinkles.

I stopped by Dennis and Co, a general store in town.  They were HQ for all things clammy and early in the morning folks were lined up to get their clamming/shellfish license and get supplies.  Clam Guns are the old traditional way to dig clams.  The long blade of the shovel is to scoop sand to intercept the clam.  Usually you have to get your arm into the hole and feel around for the fast clam.  It is then when you can find out why they are called Razors.  Sharp edges.  More popular these days are clam tubes.  A long tube, usually PVC with a handle.  You plunge the tube into the sand and draw it back, bringing sand and clam if you are lucky.  Those are clam tubes in the rack behind the shovel.

There was a nice display from the Fish and Wildlife.  They were there to register the catches.  Diggers could bring in their limit and there were prizes for biggest clam, smallest clam and "best looking" limit.

This is what they look like awaiting cleaning

These were really some good looking, robust clams.

Out the door and on to the Clam Chowder Taste-off stopping to say howdy to these characters.

The bragging rights for "Best Chowder" will be used by the winning restaurant.  I dutifully sampled the offerings from 10 restaurants and selected The Depot as my favorite.  I have not heard who won.

The room was stuffed to the rafters with people tasting and visiting.

Of course the Bathing Beauties were on hand showing off their guns.

Grade School kids participated in a Clam Tube decorating contest.

and there was music

The outdoor beer garden and stage had really taken a pounding overnight.  When I stopped by early in the morning, they were pulling the tarp off the twisted frame.  I am sure nothing dampened their spirits,though.

I spent my time making my way down and up the main street visiting the shops.  A new shop selling old glass and dishes caught my eye and I found a pretty vase I had to have.   I also gave in to a previous desire for a unique fabric wallet made by Erda Leather in Maine.  Campiche Studios is a dangerous store with many fine things I would really love to own.

A true highlight of the afternoon was the re-dedication of the Worlds Largest Spitting Clam.  The Bathing Beauties held the Blue Ribbon while the mayor, dressed in his best waders and wellies gave a little speech. Then with the help of a kiddo from the crowd it was cut and spout time.

The clam is programmed to spit on the hour.  If you don't wish to wait about, you can drop a quarter and get on demand action.

Right next to the Worlds Largest Spitting Clam is the Worlds Largest Frying Pan.

This fry pan was used in long past festivals to cook the largest clam fritter.  This weekend a new pan was introduced and students from the culinary program had a contest for the best clam fritter.  Student mentored by the Shelburne Inn won the coveted honor.  The four teams each had a section of the pan to work with.

What a fun day.  I could have spent more time wandering around and watching the crowd.  The merry-go-round was running and everyone was having a great time.

While driving through South Bend, a little speed trap in the road, something caught my eye I had never noticed before.

Of course I had to stop.  The little coffee shop was open and with a little fuel I was good for the next three hours drive.

It was a superlative weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Marti. Sounds like fun, but Provence and Cornwall sound even more fun. We're just back from the gorge. Had to speak on native orchids there and did some great hiking, Dog Mountain and the Weldon Wagon Trail, and was shown the best patch of Cyp. fasciculatum I've ever seen.