The aroma of freshly baked shad will once again permeate the streets of downtown Bethlehem when the 20th annual Shad Festival is held in the city's historical district on Saturday, May 10 from 12-5 p.m. There is no rain date.
This year's festival will take visitors back in time to the days when shad were a staple in the spring diet of Bethlehem's Moravian settlers. Nearly 1,000 dinners will be prepared for shad fanciers who travel to the festival from around Pennsylvania and neighboring states. Since its inception in 1978, more then 12,500 people have enjoyed planked shad at the festival, making it the biggest fish bake in Pennsylvania by far.
Tickets for the traditional dinner of baked shad, baked potato, watercress salad, freshly baked bread and cool mint tea are priced at $10 per person. This year, a limited number of dinners - 25 - will feature boneless shad and shad roe. Those meals are available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of $18 per person. Dinners can be reserved by sending a check or money order, payable to Historic Bethlehem Inc., 459 Old York Rd., Bethlehem, PA 18018. Additional information can be obtained by calling HBI at (610) 691-5300.
The festival will feature a variety of exhibits and demonstrations and activities for children. Nearly 100 volunteers are needed to perform a long list of jobs. Persons interested in volunteering should contact Bernetta Scholl, 501 Magnolia Rd., Hellertown, PA 18055; (610) 838-0132. It's not too early to volunteer!
The Shad Festival is unique in many ways; one of them is the way fish are gathered for the feast. Yet each year, it is a stressful adventure that never allows festival organizers to rest.
The shad that are served to the 1,000 diners and volunteers come from the Delaware River. They are caught on hook and line and are not purchased at a fish market. That is the way the acquisition of fish has been handled every year but two when river conditions prevented fishermen from supplying fish.
Last year there were only four shad left on the planks at the end of the day. If the festival had been a sellout (600+ dinners were sold), the DRSFA and HBI would have had very red faces.
The solution is simple: We need more of our members donating fish. We need 450 shad to supply our needs.
Here's what you can do: First, remember that we aren't asking for your entire catch. We only need a few fish from everyone to ensure success. Take the shad home, clean them, scale them and split them lengthwise along the backbone. Then wrap them in freezer paper and put them in your freezer or, if possible, deliver them to Deschler's Seafood in Bethlehem. Deschler's is a wonderful seafood store located just behind the Bethlehem Club on New St. Deschler's address is 518 Long St. (an alley) and their telephone number is (610) 867-5809.
That's not a difficult process; please help us this year. If you can't attend monthly meetings or serve on committees, you can donate fish for the festival. They're not tax-deductible, but they are insurance for a successful day.
For more information, click HERE
- DRSFA Home Page