Scioto County's First Shrimp Fest

Article taken from The Portsmouth Daily Times, Sunday, September 14, 2003

Could commerical shrimping thrive in southern Ohio?

Agriculture Agent Rich Sherman of the Ohio State Extension Office said he likes the possibilities.

"You can grow shrimp in Appalachia," he said. "It can be done."

Sherman was speaking at Saturday's Shrimpfest at Cliff's Lake, sponsored by The Daily Times, Greater Area Portsmouth Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Pepsi-Cola and the OSU Extension Office.

About 500 tickets were sold to the event and diners recieved a shrimp dinner, complete with corn and cole slaw.

Several local bands provided musical entertainment.

Sherman said Shrimpfest is an experiment to gauge the success of harvesting shrimp above the Mason-Dixon line.

"That's the whole point of it," he said. "We're trying to get some new industry and get people invovled."

Nate Hogue owns the lake and is the first Scioto County farmer to attempt a shrimp business. OSU is supplying Hogue with grant money to conduct the experiment. There are six other lakes in Ohio where OSU is trying to harvest shrimp for commercial purposes.

A similar Shrimpfest event was held last year, but Sherman said it will take several years to see if the idea will work.

Last year's drought and this year's excessive rain are making it hard to determine. Sherman said too little rain makes the lake water too hot and too much cools it down.

"We've got some good numbers, but if we could get a normal year it would be a little bit better," he said. "We've seen problems with both sides."

Small shrimp were dumped into the lake in June and harvested just prior to Saturday's Shrimpfest. The survival rate of the shrimp is suppose to be about 50 percent, but the rain cut the rate to about 25 percent this year, according to Sherman.

"If it was 90 degrees through the growing season, we'd probably be better off," he said. "We'd have bigger shrimp and have more shrimp. But the amount of rain and cool temperatures have affected everything."


Saturday's Shrimpfest at Cliff's Lake was the result of Ohio State University's experiment to grow shrimp in cooler, northern waters, but for those attending, it was all about food, music and a good time.

Larry and Barbara Angel of Wheelersburg decided to camp all weekend at the lake because of Shrimpfest.

"We were here when they took the shrimp out of the pond," Larry Angel said. "We saw how they did that."

The process invovled trapping the shrimp into a large tank, dumping the tank, then putiing the shrimp on ice. But Barbara Angel wasn't too concerned about the technicalities.

"We're having a real good time," she said. "The shrimp is great."

Phattside Down, Mind Chaser and Steve Free provided the musical entertainment. By mid-afternoon, about 300 people had visited Shrimpfest. Another 200 were expected through the course of the day.

Cliff's Lake owner Nate Hogue said Shrimpfest was going better than he expected.

"The turnout is great," he said. "I'm looking forward to next year's being even bigger and better. I'm going to double the capacity (of shrimp), if not quadruple it."

Hogue said the point of Shrimpfest was to prove to other farmers that shrimping could be a successful business in southern Ohio.

Mind Chaser lead guitarist Mark Teeters said events like Shrimpfest are good for the local music scene because they give beands a chance to showcase their talents in a family-oriented atmosphere.

"It seemed like when I was younger, there was a club on every corner that a band could play in," he said. "You don't see that anymore."

Teeters said the most difficult part of performing at an outdoor event like Shrimpfest is to get the instruments set up to perform right. That is not a problem indoors where temperature conditions are more stable, he said.

Allison Skaggs, Mind Chader's lead singer; said the band is not used to performing during the day.

"But I wore sunglasses," she said. "That helped alot."

Skaggs said performing during an unusual time was not a big problem.

"It was good," she said. "Anything we can do to help out is great. It's fun no matter where, no matter when. We had a great time."