Last Friday afternoon, in between supervising a chaotic corporate cooking party, I checked the upcoming hourly weather on my phone. Rain, so it appeared, would be an unwelcome yet inevitable guest of the evening. With the promise of fresh oysters overriding the promise of precipitation, I texted my boyfriend Chris to confirm our plans to hit up Shaw's Oyster Fest in downtown Chicago. Cooking party complete, Chris and his daughter Kamryn met me at the festival gates and in we went, scooping three plastic poncho handouts on our way.
As we placed our first oyster order of the night, fat drops of rain made their debut. Inspired rather than deterred, Kam insisted we don our new ponchos and soon upped the ante with matching crab bibs. Our getups proved more costume-like than protective, helping sustain our excitement for all things oyster fest despite the nagging drizzle. That poncho-and-goofy-crab-bib-fueled energy carried on through an order of Alaska King Crab, a solid hour of dancing to Breezy Rodio's blues, more than a few Founders Brewing pints, and culminated with the Oyster Slurp-Off Grand Finale. Reigning slurp champ Michael McCaskey took home the 2016 W and an oversized $500 check to the roar of his rowdy den of fans. We exited the festivities on that high note, feeling somehow a small part of McCaskey's victory. We kept the celebration going with ice skating at Navy Pier, soaked through to our socks. Rain who?