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Same But Always New Oyster Festival

A festival devoted to helping charities exceeds expectations

There were new things and old things at Oyster Festival 29. The Oyster Festival Shucking Contest was again won by David Mahnken of Melville. He shucked 35 oysters in the allotted four minutes and for the tenth time came out the winner. Something new was the winner of the Oyster Eating Contest, Abraham Ozdemir of Manhattan. This was the first time he devoured oysters.

Something else new at the festival were the T-shirts on sale at The Ida May Project in J Building on West End Avenue. Based on an original design Gregory Druhak had created for Butler Flower in the late 1970s, volunteer Jack Hoyt ordered shirts that featured the Ida May Project logo on both the front and the back. 

The profile drawing of the Ida May was originally made at the suggestion of Ida May Captain Richard Townsend and the first shirts were intended to be used only by the crews and dock workers at Frank M. Flower and Sons (FMF). Mr. Druhak bought the shirts wholesale in Boston and made the screen in his darkroom. Captain Townsend funded the effort. Captain Townsend and Mr. Druhak together hand silk-screened the initial 80 T-shirts on Mr. Druhak’s mother’s ironing board in his basement.

Butler’s granddaughter, Joan Valentine, introduced the design to the public several years later at the 1985 Oyster Festival where the T-shirt was used to raise money to help provide food necessities for people in and around the Oyster Bay area. Butler Flower felt it was very important that no one in his community go hungry. Subsequently, the shirts were sold for many years at the FMF booth at each Oyster Festival and raised many thousands of dollars to benefit the Celia Flower Pantry. 

Clint Smith, president of the Ida May Project said they still have some of their T-shirts available. “We did sell a couple of prints too,” he said.

The prints of the Ida May are by artist Ken Marcell and are done in mixed media. They are available both framed and unframed. They are 22.5” x 19.75” for $125; and 17” x 10.25” for $115. (Call 922-0458 for information.)

Mr. Smith said Saturday they had a bigger volume of visitors to the Ida May Project. “People were drawn in by the DeLoreans we had on exhibit in the shipyard. They came in to look at the cars and then the wives grabbed them to come inside and see the boats. We had people explaining about the work. It turned out very well for us,” he said.

One of the visitors looked at the boat and asked if they were building an ark? A volunteer said, “No, that’s happening over the hill at Planting Fields where they are building an ark for the movie Noah that will star Russell Crowe. Here we’re building an oyster boat.” The woman said she had been in Israel and saw a 3,000 year relic and this boat — with all its ribs showing, looked the same.

The DeLoreans were a very successful way to bring people into J Building. There were young kids who never saw the car before or even knew the movie it was featured in, Back to the Future, which starred Michael Fox. If that didn’t interest the visitors, there was a sawmill operating where they were cutting wood for the boat.

The festival is all about charity and the Ida May Project is in need of funds, so it qualified as a good cause.

A Great Committee

Something old at the festival is the great work of the Oyster Festival committee.

The festival happens seamlessly as a result of the planning of the committee members. They meet monthly starting in November and meet weekly from August as the festival date gets closer, with problems solved as they come up. “It’s a well-oiled machine and everybody wants to be doing it,” said Kerry Gillick-Goldberg, festival promoter.

Co-Chair Paul Rosen runs the meetings held at Oyster Bay Manor with Co-Chair Kristin Reardon at his elbow. They were out on Friday seeing that the festival was set up as planned and the two rode around in a golf cart on Saturday, Oct. 13 and Sunday, Oct. 14 seeing that everything ran smoothly.

People started arriving at the festival at about 10 a.m. although it officially opened at 11 a.m. As country music recording artist Lisa Matassa sang Star Spangled Banner, and people walking in the Tom Reardon Memorial Charity Food Court stopped still, and stood listening until she ended and they cheered and applauded the American anthem.

The food was wonderful and the cool weather kept people eating.

Another staple of the Oyster Festival is the great fried oysters sold by the Mill River Rod & Gun Club (MRRGC).

When Peter DeNacale was asked what the secret of the MRRGC fried oysters was, he said, “I told my wife that I couldn’t tell her. It almost caused a divorce.” But he added, “I’m lucky,” that his wife Kathy Fuicelli DeNacale is still with him.

Something new was the BMW of Oyster Bay booth on West End Avenue where manager Bob Federico chatted with BMW owners. They know their BMWs down pat by the numbers. As in, “It’s the 5 Series, ’89.” At the festival Bob said he had a 2011, pre-owned BMS with only 6,000 miles.

They had a bucket of Halloween candy out on the table. One lovely lady visitor and owner of a BMW confessed, “I’m addicted to Starburst candy.”

On the Western Waterfront, the something new was the Peacemaker and amazingly, something old, back for the second time was the John J. Harvey, fireboat. The Coast Guard was there again, too. They are regulars.

The car raffle winner this year comes with an endearing story. The winner, Fran Laurence of Selden won the car raffle and took the option of the $15,000. She is a part time employee in Community Outreach for Newsday, a sponsor of the festival once again. Ms. Laurence works full-time at the Long Island Developmental Disabilities Service Organization. Ms. Gillick-Goldberg said, “Fran Laurence opted for the $15,000 prize. She plans to get caught up with her mortgage payments and then take her two daughters, Celeste Montalvo (32) and Alissa Laurence (14) on a trip to visit an elderly aunt, cousins and friends in St. Maarten.”

It appears the raffle winner was a worthy recipient of the largesse of this, the largest waterfront festival on the eastern seaboard — dedicated to raising funds for charity.


Driving rain and an early start time did not deter 600 people who arrived at Crest Hollow Country Club recently to celebrate the Women’s Fund of Long Island’s 20th year and to honor four exceptional women.

The breakfast started with a meet and greet and a chance to showcase Women’s Fund contest winner Patti Hogarty, designer of “Women as Bamboo.” Inspired by her neighbor’s bamboo, she entered the contest drawing a design of the bamboo, which Ambalu Jewelers of Roslyn then turned into various pendants of which 40-percent of the profits would go to WFLI. Hogarty wrote a short essay comparing women to bamboo in that they are strong and can weather difficult storms, yet remain graceful and continue to grow sending out new shoots.

Oyster Bay High School Principal Dr. Dennis O’Hara addressed the board of education at Tuesday night’s meeting about offering a summer school program at the high school. It would be the first time the district had a summer school program in more than 12 years.

Dr. O’Hara explained that with the institution of the Common Core state standards, students are faced with a greater level of academic rigor and more challenging coursework. The program would offer remedial and enrichment classes for students both in and out of district.


In the history of Oyster Bay High School athletics, no one has ever won a Girls’ Tennis New York State Championship. Celeste Matute and Courtney Kowalsky became the first when they won the 2014 New York State Doubles Championship in Latham on Nov. 3. What makes this tremendous achievement even more remarkable is that Matute is a junior and Kowalsky is a sophomore.

The girls, who are usually singles players, teamed up to take on the very best players in Nassau County and New York State. They won all 10 matches in the section XIII and NYSPHSAA tournaments and left Latham as the 2014 New York State doubles champions.

The conditions were as fierce as the competition earlier this month at Oakcliff Sailing’s Halloween Invitational.

Ten teams from the U.S., Canada and Bermuda battled 30-knot-plus winds, heavy rain and biting cold to see who would take top honors at Oakcliff’s final match racing event of the 2014 season.


Annual Turkey Trot

Thursday, Nov. 27

Turkey Detox Workshop

Friday, Nov. 28

East Norwich Holiday

Sunday, Nov. 30


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