The 10th and final BC Shellfish Grower’s Association (BCSGA) Shellfish Gala Dinner
On June 17, 2016 the BCSGA held the 10th annual (and final) Shellfish Gala dinner,
celebrating our amazing seafood and the hardworking growers who produce it.
This blog entry is simply my chance to reminisce about the many great years I’ve
been involved – so please, indulge me, it’s been one of my favourite projects to be
a part of over the years.
The BCSGA Shellfish Gala Dinner and Comox Valley Shellfish Festival were
conceived of in 2006 by the BC Shellfish Grower’s executive director, Roberta
Stevenson. I have had the distinct pleasure of serving on the board as a member
since the beginning. Over the decade, we’ve had some incredible board members
and staff come and go, each one contributing something to the dinner and festival
making it better and more streamlined each year.
During that time we’ve seen many changes. The BCSGA started the Comox Valley
Shellfish Festival that year, and we held the gala dinner at the Filberg Park on
Saturday, June 17, 2006 along with the first Comox Valley Shellfish Festival on
Sunday, June 18, 2006 at Comox Marina Park.
I will never forget that first year, filled with our first-time mistakes and a growing list
of ‘things to remember for next year!”. One of our big learning moments came
during the 5th course of the very first gala dinner, which happened to be a course I
I was preparing Pentlatch Seafood’s Manila clams, and by the time my course
came up, it was pitch black outside – we hadn’t counted on lights! No one could
see a thing and I had 100 lbs of clams cooking over a series of burners with 224
guests to serve. This was before EVERYONE had an iPhone with a flashlight, so
we improvised – Tom Broadley and Richard Hardy pulled their vehicles around and
parked them pointing their headlights straight into the cook’s tent so everyone
could see what was going on. Teamwork – that was always the theme of working
with the growers and the board – pull together to get it done, no matter what.
That was the first year we held the Comox Valley Shellfish Festival at Marina Park, a
grassroots event, with the shellfish growers coming out and cooking, shucking and
serving over 1000 people that year. We grew that festival each year, with numbers
reaching as high as 2500 people.
The Comox Valley Shellfish Festival morphed into the BC Shellfish Festival and the
Shellfish Grower’s Association continued to host the festival until year seven, when
we decided to let the festival go and focus solely on the Shellfish Gala dinner at
In 2014, the Comox Valley Economic Development Society took over the festival
and they have continued to grow and adapt it into the Comox By the Sea
The Shellfish Gala Dinner remained a BC Shellfish Grower’s Association project,
until our 10th and final dinner last week.
I’ll miss those BCSGA board meetings, complete with wine, snacks and big laughs.
A huge shout out for the many years of fun – Roberta Stevenson, Tom Broadley,
Richard Hardy, Amanda Woloshyn, Laura Kempling, Matt McDonald., Matty Dread,
Aaron Rail and everyone we’ve worked with over the years. And thank you to the
mighty BC shellfish growers – you band of misfits. Your tenacity and drive is