Looking at the Oyster Festival, it seems that while the chamber of commerce started it, they might not be the organization that should be running it. The Oyster Festival is the major fund raiser for nonprofits in Oyster Bay and as such, a nonprofit group might be the logical organizer of the event.
The chamber, as a promoter of business in the Hamlet gets flack from their membership for closing the streets on the weekend although we have been told by some that they have great Fridays before the fest and busy Mondays, after the fest. Most of the stores are closed on Sunday. Many of the delis close on the weekends.
Still the flack is thrown like seeds being broadcast on an open field.
The chamber has problems telling the food and alcohol businesses that they shouldn't try to maximize their Oyster Festival profits in any way they can.
If a nonprofit were at the helm, they would hopefully have more clout.
The festival has been revamped over the years. It started out with a foot race as the opening event. There were the cycling classic years, when 7-Eleven was offering big money prizes to the winners. That attracted world class racers to the event. When 7-Eleven dropped out, that draw was lost, and the police wanted the streets clear.
The tall ships were the next big event that made the festival unique. Another section was added last year when the Marine Education Center offered instruction to students before the festival began.
True, it was hard to get one of the sponsors on board last year. The issues while important to them, were not life threatening. Out of the thousands of people who visit the festival, there are a few, really just a few, who don't mind their manners.
In this very little town, we expect good manners. We are used to it, but most of the visitors are wonderful.
Talking to Reggie Butt put another item in perspective. He said Oyster Festival dollars come from outside the area. With the festival gone, the local groups will all be asking the same group of people for money.
The fact is that there have been Oyster Festival dollars helping the community: DBSC, the Boys and Girls Club and the proposed marine education center each received $10,000 from the chamber's Oyster Festival money. Those donations were done publicly. Not all the groups announce where their money has gone and the amount given, so it is hard to judge, but this community in recent years has built a Boys & Girls Club, the Doubleday Babcock Senior Center and a high school gymnasium.
It is possible that Oyster Fesitval money has freed up funds for other types of giving in the community, that has made those other projects viable.
Last week we asked "Is that your final answer?" We think this week we want to ask, "Are you going to throw the baby out with the bath water?"
Let's agree the delis and beer locations have "killed their golden goose." They were warned about the problems, but the nonprofits and the money they earned to help the community is something we have to consider before we let the Oyster Festival fade away.
It is a really tough job to do. It would be easy to walk away and say "wow, let's relax." Unfortunately that is just too easy.
In the words of Muttontown Mayor Richard Murcott when asked why he was pushing his village as a location for the new Old Brookville Police building said, "It was the right thing to do." Solving who will run the 2001 Oyster Festival is the right thing to do.
Once the nonprofits start raising the funds they need for 2001, they too will have set things in motion. They might even prefer the newer ways of doing things.
Still, if that is what the community wants, so be it. What we need are letters to the editor. Folks, let's talk.
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