Make merry at the Penn Cove Mussel Festival

You can eat them, cook them, visit them or turn them into mermaids.

You can do all that with the beloved bivalve known as the mussel at the Penn Cove Mussel Festival this weekend in Coupeville on Whidbey Island.

For 24 years, visitors have been invited to the island to make merry with mussels. A slate of events kicks off at 5:30 tonight, starting with the Mussel Mingle, at which the shellfish can be enjoyed with bratwursts and beer and music by Funk &Mason at Mussel Fest headquarters at the Coupeville Rec Hall, 4 NE Seventh St., Coupeville.

Events continue Saturday and Sunday with cooking demonstrations, featuring chefs from Ivar’s, Brooklyn Seafood, McCormick &Schmick’s and other restaurants.

Visitors can also take a ride on the Mystic Sea to visit the Penn Cove Shellfish farm or hop aboard the Mussel Shuttle for a continuous loop ride from downtown Coupeville, out to the Captain Whidbey Inn and back along the prairie.

During mussel chowder tastings, you can vote for your favorite. A variety of restaurants will participate.

And you won’t want to miss the mussel-eating competition, in which culinary athletes compete for the coveted MusselFest Crown, trying to be the first to eat five 16-ounce cups of mussels.

Bands will perform throughout the festival at the wine and beer garden.

For the younger set, children’s seaside activities include making mussel souvenirs and decorative mermaids.

Penn Cove Mussel Festival hours are 5:30 to 7:30 tonight, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets for all festival events can be purchased at the headquarters office at the Coupeville Recreation Hall, 4 NE Seventh St., Coupeville.

For a complete schedule of events go to www.thepenncovemusselfestival.com.

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; goffredo@heraldnet.com.

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