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Whoever  said good things come in small packages must have been a big fan of Texas oysters. It's just too bad they are so hard to unwrap...

Rockport/Fulton has long been a favorite weekend getaway destination in Texas, a pair of picturesque Gulf Coast towns that offer plenty of warm weather, coastal charm and abundant fresh seafood from the gulf and bay waters that surround it.

Regardless the time of year, the dual communities located just north of Corpus Christi are a great place to visit. There's the annual (and notable) Rockport Art Festival that showcases fine coastal art and culture every July, the Texas Maritime Museum, world class whooping crane tours, the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, a host of popular annual fishing tournaments, and a community, in general, that is proud of its coastal heritage.

But early March each year is the time for one of the premiere coastal events in Texas - the celebration of the Texas oyster! With plenty of hometown enthusiasm and spunk, Oysterfest is the brainchild of the Fulton Volunteer Fire Department and their primary fundraiser each year. Staged on the Aransas bay front at Fulton Harbor, the Fest features carnival rides, live music, games, contests, vendor booths and, of course, lots of oysters.

And as you may have guessed, oyster-eating contests for both men and women are two of the highlights of the four-day event.

Oyster Facts:
Oysters are not only delicious, but they're also one of the most nutritionally well balanced of foods, containing protein, carbohydrates and lipids. The National Heart and Lung Institute suggest oysters as an ideal food for inclusion in low-cholesterol diets. Oysters are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1(thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C ( ascorbic acid) and D (calciferol). Four or five medium size oysters supply the recommended daily allowance of iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus.

Oyster Fare:
Just about any true blue Texan will tell you the best way to eat an oyster is raw, or deep fried in a light batter. Oysters Rockefeller are also a popular method of preparing and consuming oysters. But one of our favorite methods is on the grill outside:

Yield: 1 dozen appetizers
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
12 shucked oysters
6 slices lean bacon
Mix the wine, garlic, salt and pepper together. Add the oysters and marinate 10 to 20 minutes. Fire up the charcoal grill outside. Cut each bacon slice in half and wrap each oyster with a piece of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Grill on both sides until the bacon is crisp. mmmmm...

Debunking Oyster Myths:
Sure, eating any type of raw seafood poses certain risks. For example, Because raw foods including oysters may carry bacteria, persons with chronic liver disease, impaired immune systems or cancer should avoid eating raw oysters.

But the old tale about eating raw oysters only during months with the letter "r" in them is a bit outdated. The notion that oysters should not be eaten in "r"-less months -- that is, months that occur during warm weather -- may have started in the days when oysters where shipped without adequate refrigeration and could spoil. But today all that has changed and we can now enjoy oysters just about year round.

Just in case you're still worried, March, by the way, does have an "r" in it - so let's eat!

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