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Is Pismo Beach’s Clam Festival the best specialty food festival in North America?

Pismo Beach’s 71st annual Clam Festival: Buckets of food and fun

The 71st annual Pismo Beach Clam Festival began Friday night with a Wine Walk. Saturday and Sunday featured live music, a beer garden, the clam chowder contest, clam bake, clam dig and more.
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The 71st annual Pismo Beach Clam Festival began Friday night with a Wine Walk. Saturday and Sunday featured live music, a beer garden, the clam chowder contest, clam bake, clam dig and more.

Pismo Beach’s annual Clam Festival is in the running to be named the best specialty food festival in North America by USA Today.

All it needs is your vote.

The local festival, held each October, is currently sixth in the media outlet’s annual 10Best Reader’s Choice contest. The competition ranks readers’ favorite experiences and destinations.

Pismo Beach is no stranger to USA Today contests. In 2018, the city won the second-most votes for the title of Best Coastal Small Town, finishing behind Georgetown, South Carolina.

As of Tuesday, the Pismo Beach Clam Festival was ranked behind The Key Lime Festival in Key West, South Beach Seafood Festival in Miami, Tamale Festival in Houston, National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show in Albuquerque and Wellfleet Oyster Fest in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

All of the festivals feature specific foods, largely those that that are unique to a region.

The Pismo Beach Clam Festival, which dates back to 1946, is a nod to the once bountiful Pismo clams that littered local beaches before overharvesting and an increase in the otter population led the species to the brink of extinction. The Pismo clam has been making a comeback in recent years, however.

Voting for USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice contest ends March 11. To cast your vote, or check out a full list of the contenders, visit www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-specialty-food-festival-2019.

Take an aerial tour of the newly renovated Pismo Beach Pier before it opens to the public on Saturday for the Clam Festival. It closed in March 2017 as part of an $8.7 million overhaul of the aging structure.

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.


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