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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The profile drawing of the Ida May was originally made at the suggestion of Ida May Captain Richard Townsend and the first shirts were intended to be used only by the crews and dock workers at Frank M. Flower and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.


You may not actually see who is leaving books and magazines for the commuters at the Locust Valley Train Station, but those who have nicknamed these delightful and dedicated women the “Book Ladies.”

Sue Klein and Joan McCauley, who are Friends of the Library, have been collecting donated books from the community and displaying them at the Long Island Railroad waiting area every week. The Book Ladies have also displayed Locust Valley Library programs so that commuters are aware of all the wonderful events that are going on.  

There will be a different look to the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Board of Education come September. Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Christopher Van Cott is leaving his position to take a similar role in the Oceanside School District. He is following in the footsteps of past OBEN School Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington, who also left to take a similar position in Oceanside last year. The district will begin their search for a replacement for Van Cott this summer.


The Varsity Baseball Team finished the season with a league record of 11-3-1. In the playoffs, the team swept Carle Place in a best of three set to advance to the county finals vs. Wheatley at Hofstra University. The team finished the season as County runner-ups. The team was a nice combination of veteran varsity leaders and new comers to the varsity with six senior players and four freshmen on the squad. Along with four juniors, the team maintained the winning ways of a program that has won the league championship 7 out of the last eight years and won the county championship 6 of those years. Senior Berkeley Golon, Junior Jackson O’Neill, and Junior Stephen Spiegel received All-County honors. Senior Robbie Venegas and Freshman Harrison Treble received All-League honors. With two All-County pitchers coming back and four freshmen going into their second varsity season mixed with the other juniors and new players coming up from another successful JV season, the team expects to continue to work towards the goal of another county title next season.

The 2014 Oyster Bay High School Lady Baymen varsity spring track team recently completed a most memorable and record breaking season. Two school records were shattered this season; one relay record and one individual. Oyster Bay’s 4x800 meter relay team comprised of seniors Nicole Giannetti, Cassandra Iacono and juniors Linda Cameron and Rachel Wesley, broke the existing school record, and later broke their own record with a time of 10:01.56 at the Section VIII State Qualifier Meet on May 29.

Nicole Giannetti‘s senior year as a member of the Oyster Bay Girls’ Varsity Track team will also be one that will be long remembered. In addition to helping break the school’s 4x800 meters relay record, Giannetti broke the school’s 2000 meter steeplechase record, with a time of 7:23.79. Winning the 1500 meter run in very dramatic fashion at the Nassau Coaches Invitational, with an amazing time of 4:59 was a memorable mid-season highlight. Giannetti earned All-Conference honors in both the 1500 meters and 3000 meter runs and All County honors in the 2000 meter steeplechase. Giannetti qualified for the New York State Track and Field Championship in the 2000 meter steeplechase, finishing fifth and thus earning All-State honors. Giannetti was recruited by Haverford College to run for them when she attends this fall where she will study bio-chemistry.


OB Band Concerts

Wednesday, July 23

Music Under The Stars

Friday, July 25

Annual Chicken BBQ

Saturday, July 26


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