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The Oyster Festival, one of the east coast's largest street festivals celebrates its 20th anniversary this fall by moving to the waterfront. It will be located in the Town of Oyster Bay Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park lot with the main stage located at the Jacobson Pier where the annual oyster shucking and eating contests will take place. Set for the weekend of Oct. 17-19, the alcohol-free festival introduces a variety of new family-friendly attractions this year, including an all-weather Arts & Crafts center, an exotic animal petting zoo and an opening night carnival with a fireworks display.

Boating enthusiasts will enjoy the brand new watercraft simulator, (courtesy of the New York Maritime Trades Association) and music lovers will enjoy the continuous live musical entertainment.

The Long Island Rail Road is offering expanded service on the Oyster Bay and Huntington branches with express shuttle service to the festival from designated stations. The trains will operate on Saturday, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 19 with schedules available from the LIRR. The Oyster Fest tickets will include round-trip fare to and from Oyster Bay (or Syosset) and include vouchers for three free oysters and admission to dockside tours of visiting boats. For those using the Port Jefferson line there will be shuttle buses operating from the Syosset train station to the Oyster Fest.

Returning festival attendees will find their old favorites back for another year including the downtown hamlet area, the 5K Run, the Tall Ships, Amusements and Rides area and the historic harbor tours, plus a number of special activities planned in recognition of Oyster Bay's 350th anniversary. Oyster Bay Rotarian Tom Reardon, Oyster Fest 2003 chair said, "Not only does the Oyster Festival attract over 200,000 people to a weekend of family fun, food, and gift shopping, it is a chance to meet and support more than 20 local charitable organizations." The festival, which for the last three years has been organized and run by the Oyster Bay Rotary Club, has helped generate over $5 million for local humanitarian and non-profit organizations throughout its history.

The Oyster Festival is a great place to sample dozens of unique foods, from Oyster Bay's freshest oysters and clams to the now famous sweet potato pie, a staple of past festivals. "Oysters will be available in just about every edible form you can imagine," said Beverly Zembko, the festival's food director. "The non-profit organizations really go all out to have a great selection of not just oysters, shrimp and clams, but a great variety of ethnic foods, funnel cakes, guacomole, hamburgers, steak sandwiches, roasted corn, and phenomenal desserts. For a lot of our non-profits, the Oyster Festival is their biggest fund-raising event."

"At age 20, the Oyster Festival is better than ever," declared Mr. Reardon. For more information about the Oyster Fest please call 628-1625.

The Oyster Bay Rotary Club announced the 20th Anniversary Oyster Festival Annual Raffle in appropriate fashion by distributing $5,000 from past Oyster Festival proceeds to local charities.

The 20th Anniversary Oyster Festival Annual Raffle includes more options for the winner than ever! The lucky winner who purchases one of only 4,000 tickets being sold for $20 each will have the choice of a 2004 Honda Civic LX, Honda Accord LX, Honda CRV LX or Honda Odyssey LX (supplied by PS Honda) or an Angler 180F Fishing boat (supplied by Bridge Marine) or $20,000 in cash!

Debra Goyena, president of the Oyster Bay Rotary Club said, "The Oyster Bay Rotary Club is dedicated to 'Service Above Self.' One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Oyster Festival whether it is from raffle tickets or oyster sales go back to the community enabling use to support many worthwhile activities in a significant way."

Grants ranging from $500 to $1,500 were given to seven local charities. Recipients include: Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce for the "Passport to Historic Oyster Bay" tourism promotion campaign, two "Oyster Festival" scholarships for local high school students, support of the Youth and Family Counseling Agency's "Bowls of Plenty" program, autumn decorations for downtown Oyster Bay, repairs to the pedestrian bridge in the Community Garden at the Town of Oyster Bay apartments on West Main Street, Oyster Bay High School Interact Club students to support their efforts to build a school in Africa, and to help establish a trade school in Hungary.

Since taking over responsibility for the annual Oyster Festival in 2001 the Oyster Bay Rotary Club has already distributed $24,000 to local not-for-profit organizations. This does not include the tens of thousands of dollars raised directly by over 20 different not-for-profit organizations in the food court and other areas of the festival. Previous Oyster Bay Rotary grants have included: assistance of special dinners and the Daybreak program for Doubleday Babcock Senior Center, downtown improvements such as benches and a kiosk (Oyster Bay Main Street Association), Teens for a Better Oyster Bay (BOB), support of Friends of Locomotive 35, contributions to Oyster Bay High School and Mill Neck Manor auditoriums, college scholarships, Oyster Bay Boys and Girls Club and Mill Neck Adult Services.

For more information about the Oyster Festival visit the website www.theoysterfest.com which was developed by Oyster Bay High School students. To purchase raffle tickets before the festival stop by Fleet, North Fork Bank or State Bank of Long Island or at the "Welcome Tent" at the festival entrance if any tickets are still available.

The Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that the downtown area will be open for visitors on Oyster Festival weekend, Oct. 18 and 19.

Chamber Executive Director Toni Junjulas said, "With the Oyster Fest 2003 moving to the waterfront this year, we saw the need to take positive steps to ensure that the many visitors coming through the village will have an opportunity to patronize those merchants who wish to open on Oyster Fest weekend." She added, "We will be working with those businesses and assisting them by securing necessary permits with government agencies and promoting the downtown."

The chamber will have an information booth at the intersection of Audrey Avenue and South Street. Chamber "Ambassadors" will answer questions and provide information and directions to the Oyster Fest.

In cooperation with the Town of Oyster Bay and the Nassau County Police Department 2nd Precinct the following streets will be affected during the Oyster Festival. The closings parallel the previous years with a few exceptions. The parking fields at Townsend Square and Town Hall will be open to vehicles. East Main Street will be closed from Church Street to South Street. No parking is allowed on either side of the street in that designated area.

The Oyster Bay High School parking lot on East Main Street will again be open as a fundraiser for the PTSA.

Audrey Avenue will be closed to traffic from South Street to Maxwell Avenue. This will be a pedestrian thoroughfare and there will be no parking allowed in that area, again. Spring Street will be closed from West Main Street to Audrey Avenue. West Main Street will be open to traffic. The parking lanes on either side of the street will be barricaded to allow for pedestrian traffic. South Street will remain open and no parking will be available from Orchard Street to Hamilton Avenue.

Oyster Bay Chamber President John Specce said, "I believe that with the tremendous influx of visitors on this weekend, there will be enough patronage at both the Oyster Fest and the downtown for all to benefit, be it the non-profits or businesses. The chamber is not competing with the Oyster Fest, but rather is providing our hard-working merchants a unique opportunity to do business in an environment that comes but once a year."


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