Hundreds of people stood in line to fill their plates with an array of seafood options, from fried shrimp to catfish fingers, clam chowder, barbecue and fixings. In another line, some shucked oysters out of steaming shells and plopped them into their mouths, their faces displaying satisfaction. A band played music in the background and those at the event mingled among one another.
That was the scene at the Garner Morning Rotary Club’s 12th annual Oyster Fest, an event that raises money for scholarships for students at Garner Magnet High School. Each year, the Garner Morning Rotary club puts on this event in the parking lot of Fidelity Business Park off U.S. 70, selling tickets for $30 each.
The tickets allow people to eat from a buffet of food cooked by the 42nd Street Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill.
“It’s kind of like a school reunion,” Magdy Saad, a Rotary club member, said.
The event was first held on Garner’s Main Street but eventually moved to the business park about seven years ago.
“We kept growing and growing,” Saad said. “We always had a scholarship. It was our big goal, and that was a good venue to be able to bring in the scholarship money we wanted to do.”
The money goes into a trust fund, and at the end of the year, the club awards about six scholarships to graduating seniors worth a total of $11,000.
The Garner Morning Rotary Club was started in 1978. The club wanted to focus on a community project that would give back to the community. The scholarship fund was started in 1995, and one scholarship was given each year.
Over time they decided to start a trust fund in hopes of giving more scholarships. And so far the club has awarded $172,600 in scholarships in its 20 years. Everybody was interested in academics and rewarding students who did well in school. The trust fund was established to help finance scholarships and it has grown over time to about $360,000.
“It’s money well spent,” club member Richard Godfrey said. “These kids going to school, they need to get a good start, and it’s better to get them through school with no debt.”
The club raised $30,000 from this year’s event.