As many people who make their living on the water may know, Virginia already boasts seven distinct oyster regions. On Thursday the first lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe helicoptered in to the small island of Tangier to name it as the eighth.
In the not so distant past of 2014 Governor Terry McAuliffe called together a group individuals from various organizations. Folks that worked in all facets of the public sector, in the hopes of achieving a single goal; make Virginia the east coast capitol for oysters. The announcement of an eighth region is an accomplishment that only further solidifies that Virginia has truly become the oyster capitol of the east coast.
The addition of the eighth Middle Bay/Tangier region was aided by the founding of the Tangier Island Oyster Company by owners; Tim Hickey and Craig Suro. The idea for this company as simple, with Tangier situated miles away from the hustle and bustle of the main land they would be able to produce a truly quality product. After a set back in which much of their equipment was washed away to sea the Tangier Island Oyster Company has now been rewarded with their very own state recognized region.
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Todd Haymore, recognized the company is his speech. “We are here celebrating a new achievement today, but really it’s the hard work of you and the entrepreneurial spirit that you employ,” said Haymore. He went on to discuss the facts and figures that go into the seafood business.
“The seafood industry is incredibly important to the overall agricultural industry. Everybody in the room knows agriculture is our largest private sector industry in the state generating over 52 billion dollars a year in revenue and employing over 300,000 people all across the commonwealth, including right here on Tangier Island,” said Haymore.
However those who had come across the ferry from Reedville were anticipating something more than just numbers. The workers of the Tangier Oyster Company as well as the citizens of Tangier had one thing on their mind; what distinctive flavor profile would be awarded to their oyster. Each region has its own profile; Dorothy McAuliffe took to the microphone to answer that question for Tangier.
“This new region will not only attract more travelers to coastal Virginia but will also introduce consumers to a delicious variety of Virginia oyster,” said McAuliffe. “These Tangier middle bay oysters have a traditional middle bay oyster flavor, with a balance of salt and sweet and a savory butter crème finish.”
This announcement bodes well for Virginia as a whole, and Virginia’s first lady did not overlook the unique culture of the people who made this possible. “This is a celebration of the oyster and the people who grow them, a celebration of families, and stories, and generations behind this important moment,” said McAuliffe.
The oysters of Tangier Island are now being sold all across the United States and even in some paces across the globe. With its spread in National Geographic, and its now unique delicacy Tangier Island may soon become a household name far beyond the Northern Neck.