Justin called it during the wrap-up process in 2019: "next year we should make the theme 'the hindsight Rama.'"
We didn't pursue the idea, because we figured that by April everyone would be sick of hindsight jokes. Little did we suspect that by the time the 2020 Rama rolled around we’d have nothing to do *but* reflect back on 10 years of tideflat celebration.
We hope you'll join us on this historical lookback. As we started pulling this remembrance together we realized the sheer enormity of thanking and recognizing everyone. So many people have worked every year - rain, shine, and wind - for the success of this party. If you have Rama memories you'd like to share, leave them in the comments below or tag us in instagram or facebook photos.
If you're looking for an activity: check out these downloadable Oyster Rama logo coloring pages. Thanks Andrew Wicklund for putting these together!
And, follow along on our Instagram Story on Saturday, April 25th to attend the 2020 Hindsight Rama - Virtually!
We look forward to seeing you all in 2021!
2011: The Rama Begins
May 21, 2011: The Rama is Born!
For several years we'd wanted throw a party on the farm, but the Oyster Rama ultimately came together because three things happened:
- We'd had good luck with our Farm Days (which we started in 2008) and realized we really loved the good vibes we got when sharing the tideflats with our customers. We were also motivated by a desire to get people stoked to live in oyster country... to feel part of oyster culture. The intertidal environment is one of the wonders of the world, and we want our neighbors to be ready to vote/take action to protect it ... not because those of us in the shellfish industry need jobs... but because they want to live in a world where they can walk out onto the flats at low tide and pickup their food.
- Our Aunt Annie had started a foundation to benefit the Hood Canal Elementary School, and we wanted to help fund their projects. This charity, the Hood Canal Education Foundation, would go on to be the major Rama beneficiary over the years and would help us loop in hundreds of volunteers from the local community. More overtly environmental groups also benefit from (and help organize) the Rama, but for us, looping the community in IS an environmental act. We want the local kids, their parents and teachers etc, to feel invested in the intertidal ecosystem.
- We'd connected with local mover & shaker Howard Leggett (bottom left in the photos above) an artist moonlighting as event organizer and community activist. Howard named the event, created the signage and logo, helped strategize logistics, and rounded up artists for the art fair. He proceeded to help at every subsequent event, organizing the art fair and offering encouragement and support.
Some perspective on the first Rama:
- We're so thankful for the folks who have been with us since day 1: Smokin Mo's, Teri King from Washington Sea Grant, Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Olympic Mountain Ice Cream, photographer George Stenberg, and all the volunteers who put up with our learning curve.
- We setup the beer garden on the shell pile, which was fun, but we were so very lucky it was a cloudy day because otherwise the glare off the shells would have been unbearable.
- Thank you to our close family and neighbors, who stayed late to setup tents the night before and then arrived early to move the tents several times because we didn't have a solid site plan. (You know who you are).
- Todd Fredson read poetry written by Hood Canal School kids in the beer garden during a band break... this is still one of our all-time favorite Rama memories.
- Finally: we pre-sold maybe 100 tickets to this Rama, which was enough to send us into a panic about not having enough food or drink. So we announced that the event was sold out, thereby accidentally giving the party a sense of exclusivity that it never quite shook. (Only last year did we feel like our event space was truly maxed.)
2011 Charitable Donation (which includes the cost of the beer, since at the time the charity was running the beer garden): $6,500
Before we go further: Howard Leggett passed away in February of this year, which was a tremendous loss for his family and for all who knew him. He was a kind, creative, and gentle spirit. Thank you Howard. Our little Hood Canal community benefited so much from your energy and enthusiasm, and you will be missed.
May 5, 2012: It Happened
The second Oyster Rama logo was inspired by Aphrodite coming out of her shell and designed by our friend Emi from Tiny Whale Creative. We don't really remember much about this particular year... it was fun, and successful, and we felt good about it... we do remember putting a lot of energy into designing and printing event brochures and then not successfully distributing them at the event. (This would become a repeated pattern as we attempted to solve the wayfinding issue at the Rama).
This might have been the first year that Paellaworks joined us to cook up their delicious and belly-filling paella. That was truly a watershed moment!
2012 Charitable Donation (includes cost of beer): $9,500
April 27th, 2013: The Windy Year
The artwork from the 2013 Rama was a beautiful hand painted bridge / shell scene and we are so sorry we can't remember the artists' name... if you know, please let us know!
This was the year the south wind crashed the party... it blew so hard it destroyed several tents we'd setup the night before and everybody had wind rash the next day. It was a "hold onto your hats... and your toddler" kind of wind.
Renee Erickson made her debut at the Rama... she and her team from the Walrus came out to shuck in the raw bar. It was the first year we tackled a special event... we roped our our friends Leah Waaramaki (then-winemaker for Whidbey Island Winery), and Anthony Pane (who was working for The Walrus & Carpenter at the time), into teaching oyster and wine pairing tastings. Finally, this was the year that Shawn Batstone, then principal of Hood Canal School, stepped up when nobody else would to volunteer in the dish pit. With a smile. Way to lead by example Mr. Batstone!
Rockstar volunteer Sherri Michalski made her first Rama appearance... and made the mistake of being so stinkin useful that she hasn't ever been able to escape us!
2013 Charitable Donation: $10,543 (this was the last year the HCEF had to buy it's own beer).
Check the 2013 photo album on facebook here.
April 19th, 2014: Rain AND Shine
The 2014 Oyster Rama saw the debut of Andrew Wicklund as the event's t-shirt designer. He came in big with the mischievous little red octopus. Unfortunately, this was also the wettest Oyster Rama on record, so everybody wore rain gear and covered up the design. Hats off to all of you who came out and braved the rain that year. Thankfully, we'd learned our lesson the previous year (what with all the destroyed tents) and rented real party tents from an outside vendor. So there were at least a few dry places to hang out. The photo album is full of pictures of puddle-dunkin toddlers having the time of their young lives.
Towards the very end of the party, the weather cleared up and a rainbow came out. Just in time for last call.
2014 Charitable Donation: $7850
Check the 2014 photo album on facebook here.
May 9, 2015: Overkill
After two back to back years of pretty miserable weather we were owed some sunshine, and 2015 delivered. It was the first legit nice weather Oyster Rama, and it was glorious. Taylor Shellfish came on board as a sponsor, setting up a food booth (with Xinh) and then donating all the proceeds from their booth towards the charitable contribution. The Mason County Rodeo Queens came to cook and sell hot dogs, and we roped them into running in the shuckathalon.
It was also the first year Joy in Mudville played. We liked them so much we've had them back for nearly every subsequent Rama.
If you look closely at Andrew's diving bell design you'll see the words "overkill," the joke being that the Rama was a chance to journey to the bottom of the sea without snorkel or scuba equipment of any kind.
2015 Charitable Donation: $7,288
May 7, 2016: Everything Awesome Happens
2016 remains the most epic Oyster Rama ever. First off, the party really came together logistically. After the sunshine of 2015 attendance was up, so for the first time the crowd didn't seem too spread out. In a long overdue move, we brought in outside expertise and labor to help organize and run the day-of logistics (we see you, Mary & Sasha!). We were able to line up new sponsors (thanks XtraTuf!) and have a silent auction for the first time.
The food continued to improve, with Portland-based Olympia Oyster Bar showing up with condiments for the raw bar and oyster grill.
Timber City and Holy Mountain make their first appearances in the beer garden.
Rowan Jacobsen made his Rama debut, and mother nature really rolled out the red carpet for him. To start, the sunny streak from 2015 continued and the weather was just perfect. Then the orca whales swam past during the event. Later, at the after party, we built a big bonfire to enjoy the moonless night and flat calm water. We don't know what kind of planktonic magic was at work, but the bioluminescense was mind blowing. So we swam, paddleboarded, and boated in the sparklewater. Finally, at about 1 am the northern lights became visible over the Olympic Mountains.
The next morning, still buzzed from that epic display of natural splendor, we proceeded to eat up all the leftover crab cakes.
We're pretty sure that the guests also had fun.
This was the year that filmmaker Treva Wurmfeld came to shoot "The Hama Hama Way." This film short was featured in film festivals around the country and aired on Alaska Airlines in flight programming.
2016 Charitable Donation: $8,959
April 29, 2017: Family Friendly
The 2017 saw a continuation of all those good vibes. The Silent Auction got better and better, with donations from XtraTuf and Patagonia and dinner tickets to Secret Supper and Outstanding in the Field farm dinners. Chef Luke Reyes flew up from LA to serve ramen and teach a cooking class. Shelton-based Urraco Coffee showed up with the first ever "Blue Pool Blend" ground coffee infused with oyster shells (it's very smooth!). We setup a guest oyster booth to feature other oyster farmers, which offered our fellow farmers a good excuse to skip the low tide and come hang out with us.
We think this was also the first year that a delegation from Hog Island Oyster company came up to hang out...
One major change in 2017: we pivoted from a "beer garden" (which is 21 and up only) to a family friendly "outdoor dining area," which we were able to do under the Oyster Saloon's liquor license. This was a real game changer for all the families with young kids (who make up the most of our attendees).
Also: Seattle artist Dozfy painted a whale of a mural on our delivery truck during the event. (Dozfy has proceeded to do live art demos at every subsequent Rama.)
2017 Charitable Donation: $15,312
April 21, 2018: Special Events Rule
So many things came together in 2018. Tournant taught a special event cooking class called Iron / Fire / Brine, and chef Dom Crisp came up from LA to teach a caviar class. We debuted the Mystery Oyster Contest. NYC-based oyster sommelier Julie Qiu (@inahalfshell) came to co-teach the oyster class with Rowan and wine experts Nick Dumergue and Will Piper.
The Kiwanis club stepped in to organize parking. Local photographer Amber Fouts came to the Rama for the first time and captured the scene beautifully. (We've got a link to her photos below).
2018 saw the debut of Rama sponsor Peace Vans van rentals in the silent auction.
Boston-chef Michael Scelfo flew in to grill and chill... at one point he ended up in the kitchen making emergency spaghetti because it looked like we were going to run out of food!
Check Amber's photo highlights from 2018 here.
2018 Charitable Donation: $19,144
April 20, 2019: Commune with the Moon
Last year we finally acted like we knew what we were doing. We organized a shuttle bus from Mason County Transit and hired a Washington State Patrolman to slow traffic down. The food and drink were all time: Bar Melusine, Yodelin Broth, Alderbrook Resort, and Musang joined the food lineup. Tournant came back to teach the cooking-with-fire class. Bryan Rackley from Kimball House joined Rowan in the oyster class. We built a bonfire out on the beach during the event, and turned the shell pile into a party pit. The party was packed. The Silent Auction prizes were amazing. Min Liao flew in from NYC on a James Beard Fellowship to help organize.
And, this was the first year since the first year that we put together a decent summary for our blog.
2019 charitable donation: $14,345
All time charitable donation from the event: $99,441.
One thing that hasn't changed: 9 years in we are still really terrible at keeping track of the winning Shuckathalon team names. If you won in either 2012 or 2019, please get in touch!
And we'd like to leave you with a few of our smiling faces... here we are in Rama years!