Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Houston’s mandatory closure of restaurant dining rooms throughout Harris County, several new and annual spring foodie events have been canceled or rescheduled.
“We have already contacted all of our vendors, restaurant partners, and so on and let them know this year has been canceled,” says Haille Leija, the Habitat Restoration Manager for the Galveston Bay Foundation. The group was set to host the first Houston Oyster Festival on April 4. “We fortunately had really great responses from restaurants that were already participating, and we would be happy to have them stay on board for next year.”
The Oyster Festival was planned to raise awareness of and money for an expansion of the Galveston Bay Foundation’s oyster shell recycling program, which collects discarded oyster shells from restaurants near Galveston Bay and returns them to the water to create additional habitat for oysters. Programming included education about oysters and their habitat, while local restaurants Goode Co. Seafood and Loch Bar were among those signed up to serve signature oyster dishes.
The event has been rescheduled for April 3, 2021, and guests who purchased tickets for this year’s festivities are able to use their ticket as a credit for 2021 or get a full refund.
As for the Foundation, Leija is optimistic the additional planning time will allow event coordinators to smooth out some of the logistical concerns with expanding the oyster shell recycling program to inner Houston by early 2021.
“We want to expand on that advisory board as well to get input from the leaders of the restaurant industry and hear from them what they’d like to see in terms of shell recycling at their restaurants,” Leija said. “I’m excited we actually have a little bit more time to focus in on that and work out some of the kinks and see what works best for everybody.”
Meanwhile, the eighth annual Houston BBQ Festival, originally scheduled for April 5, has also been canceled and will be holding festivities next spring.
“It’s been a tough thing to go through,” says Chris Reid, co-founder of the Houston BBQ Festival and barbecue columnist for the Houston Chronicle. “All the guests have been super understanding, the vendors have been understanding, and we’re just going to plow ahead and make it even better next year.”
The popular celebration was planning on hosting about 30 vendors. Reid says he expected ticket holders to see a full refund issued within a week.
“The main thing right now is to support Houston barbecue joints,” Reid adds. “Everybody needs to go out and get take out, as long as they stay safe doing it.”
The Pasadena Strawberry Festival, which was set for May 15–17 and claims to have the world’s largest strawberry shortcake, has also been postponed until further notice.
“As of right now we are at a complete standstill,” says Murline Staley, executive director of the Pasadena Strawberry Festival, which celebrates its 47th year in 2020. “We are looking for summer time, but we do not have a date at this time.”
The festival hasn’t begun ticket sales yet and is still hoping to open this year, even if it means postponing until after prime strawberry season ends.
“It’s always been a spring thing, because strawberries are full and ripe” Staley says. “But nowadays strawberries are available year round.”