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Same But Different: Oyster Festival 30

The Oyster Bay Charitable Fund and Oyster Bay Rotary Club hosted a pre-Oyster Festival press conference to kick off its 30th anniversary.

With Oyster Bay Harbor in the background, members marked three decades of the North Shore’s biggest family friendly fun event and had Len Rothberg, event coordinator, thanking the Town of Oyster Bay officials for the use of streets, park, and general support. He said the Oyster Festival is something that holds the community together. Rotary members chair all the committees, joined by experts in their fields, and the actual weekend event has community members from local non-profits working side by side to food—which is the true attraction for the “droves of people who come to this two-day event,” he said.

Town officials up for re-election attended and accepted the kudos. For many years, the town refused to allow the park to be used as a venue for the event, but Supervisor John Venditto sees the festival as a showcase for the town. Today, the two food courts are located in the parking lots in Theodore Memorial Park; the Western Waterfront pier hosts the tall ships. The new multi-sport field will host the NFL PPK event that sends youth to play at a pre-event NFL game. The LI NFL PPK Championships will be held at the Oyster Festival on Sunday, Oct. 20.

Last year with a new configuration of the food court areas, visitors had greater access to the water and took advantage of that to walk on the sandy beach.

Sponsor Recognition

This year Verizon is the title sponsor and its public relations representative, Patrick A. Lespinasse, said he would be there to support the non-profits. “It is awesome to be a part of the family of organizations including the state and town governments who work together with the nonprofits.”

Capital One, another sponsor, is offering a free app for information about the festival, such as what group is performing where and vendor location in the arts and crafts tent.

NYS Senator Carl Marcellino, who provides the large electric sign posted in the median at the intersection of Route 106 and 107 telling people to take the LIRR to the festival, reminded everyone that all the profits from the festival go back into the community.

As he spoke, a large sign at the podium listed the organizations aided by the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund.

He thanked the town for allowing the festival to take over the local streets, “gum up the traffic,” and even engage town employees to create this great open air event. The festival includes the famed Annual Oyster Eating and Shucking Contests. Marcellino added that while they welcome families but added, “We prefer you leave dogs at home so their paws don’t get stepped on by the crowds.

“Come early, park where you can, but best: take the train to the festival [buses will be available at the Syosset LIRR station and there are parking locations along Route 106] ,” said the senator.

Shari Cope-Dembowski, chamber administrative assistant, and Mark Fox of Canterbury Ales co-chair the chamber’s festival events on Audrey Avenue.

Traditional Ticket

Councilman Chris Coschignano bought the first car raffle ticket. Coschignano said he was 5 years old at the first Oyster Festival. Holding a $20 bill he said, “We’re flush in the town of Oyster Bay. The comments on our budget problems are greatly exaggerated.” The raffle is for a 3-year lease on a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo or $15,000 in cash.

The councilman is planning to race in the Supervisor’s 5K Run that on Saturday morning. He is organizing friends and family to do the race for the benefit of Wounded Warriors.

Past Rotary President Jim Fuccio, Esq. explained that besides donating funds to local groups, they donate funds to the Gift of Life and to Rotary International that is working on a worldwide project to eliminate polio.

Fireworks By Grucci

Event coordinator Rothberg said there will be Fireworks by Grucci, at “7-ish” on Saturday night, Oct. 19. Robbie Rosen, of American Idol fame, will be performing a program in sync with the overhead color blasts.

He said the West End Avenue performance schedule will be extended by Radio Disney which will have their DJs on the stage. Radio Disney is a national radio station kids listen to and parents approve of since there is nothing on the air that they wouldn’t want their children to listen to, explained Kerry Gillick Goldberg, event media promoter.

Len ticked off the added features of the event: the 170-foot tall ship the Mystic is coming as is the John Jay Harvey, fireboat. “It will be spritzing the area,” he said. Forty different food groups will serve everything, including the freshest seafood.

Festival Co-Chairs Kristin Reardon (wife of Andrew Reardon) and Rosen are a good team. “She’s wonderful. She runs the festival,” he said. “He’s wonderful to work with,” she said. And the Rotary volunteers run their “real” lives at the same time.

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, Jennifer Sappell, co-chair of the Tall Ships Committee [with James Werner] said she had just come from an Oyster Festival Committee meeting. She said, “It’s amazing that such a small group of people can make something so big — and wonderful.”

That actually sums up the event. Save the dates, Oct. 19 and 20 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. plus Fireworks by Grucci on Saturday night, around 7 p.m.