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Oyster Festival Countdown

A busy week made for a successful weekend event

There was excitement in the air the week of Oct. 8, as all around the community people were preparing for the Oyster Festival. Betty Tiska had her Oyster Festival schedule all planned on Tuesday, Oct. 9. She said, “I’ll be working the Supervisor’s 5K run in Townsend Square in the early morning and then for Team FMF (Frank M. Flowers & Sons, Inc. the oyster company gang) signing people up for the Eating and Shucking contests at the Rotary booth by the LIRR tracks (then later working on-stage for both contests).

“I’ll be crewing aboard the Christeen later on Saturday for one sail and then crewing three sails aboard her on Sunday. Hank (Mr. Tiska) will be pouring beer for the Masons at the Matinecock Lodge in town, on West Main Street both days at their annual Oktoberfest,” she said.

Ms. Tiska was also on top of happenings in the world of oyster farming. She reported, “I stopped at the F.M. Flower hatchery in Bayville after two sails on the Christeen today, and Dave Relyea and Joe Zahtila told me that the boats were out harvesting oysters for the Oysterfest as we spoke. As you know, the (natural occurring virus in warm waters) oyster problem is over now that the water has gotten cooler.” They will again be selling FMF T-shirts to benefit the Celia Flower Food Pantry at their booth at the festival.

On Tuesday night a NYS DOT flashing electric sign arranged for by NYS Senator Carl Marcellino’s office and placed at the intersection of Route 106 and 107 was brightly lit. It stated “Take LIRR to Oyster Bay,” and then flashes, “Oyster Festival, Oct. 13 and 14.”

A second sign on the median between Muttontown Road and Route 25A was dark. During the festival it directs people to parking in the lot at the Muttontown Preserve where shuttle buses to the festival were available. A third sign further down Route 106 alerted visitors to Mill Max Mfg. where there was free parking and shuttle bus service. A fourth sign right after Audrey Avenue directed visitors to the town hall parking lot.

Kathy Wilson, Senator Marcellino’s communications director said, “The senator has been doing this forever, arranging for the signs, even before he was in his current office.” Senator Marcellino, a Rotarian, was seen selling car raffle tickets for Rotary at their booth at the entrance to the festival.

On Wednesday, Jennifer Sappell, tall ships co-chair said, “The Peacemaker tall ship is in and they are the nicest people. They got in early because there was supposed to be windy and rainy weather later in the week. So they are here, laying low and getting ready for beautiful weather on the weekend. They sailed here through the night and got here at 8:45 a.m. and Jim Werner, (tall ships co-chair) caught the lines as they hooked up to the pier.”

On Thursday the ship was riding the waves with their flags flying in the wind. A sign above the gangplank said, “Closed. No boarding,” which this reporter took at its word. The ship is the home for the crew and everyone deserves a little privacy.

On Wednesday, Ms. Sappell, who is also the co-chair for the Audrey Avenue part of the festival— the area the event started from and grew out to encompass Firemen’s Field and Theodore Roosevelt Park, said, “Audrey Avenue is looking good. The streets are all painted and marked off for spots for all the booths. There is one free spot to work with, which is good. It means we have a lot of interest in groups setting up in the hamlet, and we can still accommodate someone who suddenly turns up.”

Wednesday night at 5 p.m. there was a meeting of the festival committee at TR Park. Kerry Gillick-Goldberg, festival promoter, had some last minute news from Kristen Reardon, Oyster Festival co-chair, that the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Network (HPSN) is launching a documentary on PBS on Channel 12 on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. It can be purchased online. It is the story of Oyster Bay High School graduate Ashley Appell and her mother Donna as they work to find a cure for HPS. The HPS Network was at the Oyster Festival food court selling a variety of great foods. For more information on the film, please call 922-4022.

On Thursday at the Atlantic Steamer Firehouse on East Main Street, Bobby Waller, Sr. was making the chili for the chili-dogs and Bob Bagan was making the clam chowder the fire company was selling at their location on East Main Street.

Tweaking The Festival

Each year the festival plans are tweaked a little — always to make it better. This year a visit to the festival grounds at TR Park on Thursday, gave great views of the food court layout -  but without the crowds of people.  There was seating in an area near the gazebo that was a beautiful spot to enjoy food with a view of the bay.

On the left side of the entrance, in the parking lot nearest the Atlantic Steamer marine facility, there were tables set up in the Oyster Court with booths around them. “This year the Mill Neck Rod  & Gun Club are taking a bigger tent. They serve fried critters and decided to expand,” said Tom Schwind of Harry Whaley & Sons, in charge of setting up the festival tents and picnic tables etc. He explained that besides Rotary’s oysters on the half shell and the fried oysters, the Frank M. Flower & Sons, Inc. will have their booth set up in that area too. Interestingly, the Mill Neck Rod & Gun Club has won the Best In The Food Court Contest for the past three years in a row for their fried oysters.

Mr. Schwind said he sets up the tents so they can have electricity. He commented on the weather saying earlier in the week it was raining and that made it difficult for his crew to set up the red and white striped tents. It was windy on Thursday and he added, “The weekend weather looks good. I just hope the wind dies down.”

Nearby the two giant white tents were set up for the arts and crafts with a roofed-over court in the middle. The tents are anchored down into the asphalt with giant stakes. The work is overseen by Mel Warren who is in charge of the craftspeople. He was one of them for years, doing leather belts and saddles, now he just makes sure everyone is doing well.

Down at the Western Waterfront Pier, Dave Waldo, WaterFront Center executive director, was out giving orders to his team to get his boats in place. “We are serving Cuban sandwiches at the Oyster Festival,” he said.

“We haven’t dished out food in quite some time and there is no better way to make a new first impression than serving up something tasty like a Cuban sandwich. Real Cuban sandwiches dished out with the help of Nader’s Fish on the Run are served up hot. Fresh pork, ham, pickles, Swiss cheese with a special mustard sauce is all served panini style.

“These sandwiches are going to send your taste buds dancing. And remember every sandwich sold supports our mission. Tell your friends to buy a Cuban sandwich and we can have even more kids and adults engage the marine environment in 2013,” said Mr. Waldo.

All in all the Oyster Festival supports local charities and makes Oyster Bay a better place to live, work and play.