ESSEX — For 61 years, the Rotary Club of Essex has held its annual rite of spring, nailing American shad onto oak planks and roasting them around a large bonfire.

The Connecticut River Museum will host the 2019 Essex Annual Shad Bake Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m.

“We are pleased to host and partner with the Rotary Club of Essex on this iconic event that celebrates part of the Connecticut River’s heritage and supports the many worthwhile projects of Rotary and the museum,” interim executive director Thomas Wilcox said in a prepared statement.

This volunteer-run event is organized by the Rotary Club of Essex and coordinated by Bake Master Joseph Shea.

Many activities take place throughout the afternoon. For shad lovers, the lure is the secret ingredients and the authentic method of preparing and baking the fish, which has been handed down through generations of Connecticut natives.

Nailed onto oak planks with salt pork and placed in front of the bonfire, the fish picks up the smoky flavor of the fire, and the seasoned oak boards on which it is baked. Add to this delicacy homemade potato salad, tossed green salad, and pie from Lyman Orchards and your shad experience is complete. Grilled chicken is also available.

In addition to the food, participants will be able to enjoy live music and touring the museum, which will be open until 6 p.m. The vibrant atmosphere is enhanced with picnickers and the delicious smell of shad baking around the open fire.

The price, $35 for adults (shad or chicken dinner option) and $10 per child 10 and under, includes the full meal, a water or soda (child ticket includes a hot dog and salads) and admission to the museum.

Tickets at the door, if available, are $40. Beer, wine and soda will be available for purchase with a valid ID. Freshly shucked clams and oysters will also be available at an additional price beginning at 3 p.m.. No carry-in alcohol is permitted.

To purchase tickets, visit shop.ctrivermuseum.org or buy them at Centerbrook Package Store, Essex Hardware or the museum.

There will be no parking on the museum grounds and on-street parking is very limited. On the day of the event, a free shuttle will run between the museum and Town Hall parking lot.

The museum is located on the Essex waterfront, at 67 Main St., and open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, it offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River. For information, visit ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

The Rotary Club of Essex is the local chapter of Rotary International whose membership is made up of service-minded professionals. The club and its members are committed to improving the community, connecting with other professionals, sharing their time and experience with the young, supporting global causes, and using their skills to help others. For details, visit rotaryclubofessex.com.

Connecticut Media Group