NEW ORLEANS -- Fried, fresh or chargrilled, there's no shortage of the local delicacy at the New Orleans Oyster Fest.
“I got a half a dozen raw, but I'm pretty sure when I'm eating these, these are going to be the best, they're smelling pretty good,” said one festival-goer.
But two years after the BP oil disaster ravaged the Gulf Coast, there's been incremental growth in the oyster industry, but those in the business say there's still room to rebound.
“The industry is still hurting, we're still waiting for oysters to grow because there are so many of them that died, and replenish it,” said Tommy Cvitanovich, owner of Drago’s Restaurant.
“It's sort of like a forest fire, and after its devastated, it comes back stronger,” said Sal Sunseri, co-owner of P&J Oyster Co. “But we haven't seen the turn quite as quickly as we'd like.”
Sunseri helped start the fest, which began just after the oil spill. The co-owner of P&J oyster company said supply is lower than before the spill, but so is demand outside the south.
“If we had that huge demand, we wouldn't have enough,” he said.
And with supply and demand still down after the spill, organizers say festivals with food like this mean a lot for the industry.
“To celebrate an item like they do here, it's unique, it's awesome,” Cvitanovich said.
Organizers hope 25,000 locals and tourists alike attend the two-day fest this year, celebrating the oyster and coming away with a positive perception of Louisiana seafood.
“It feels like Christmas morning,” said festival-goer Hunter Noble.
And those in the industry hope the festival’s growth bodes well for the future of the industry – one that continues to survive disasters and remain resilient.