Oysters, live music, games, crafts, large crowds and more oysters: the Oyster Festival will soon be upon us. For 35 years, the annual festival has attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the hamlet of Oyster Bay, and this year’s promises to be even bigger and better than in years past. On Saturday, Oct. 13 and Sunday, Oct. 14, the Harmony Home Concierge 35th Anniversary Oyster Festival will again be held at Theodore Roosevelt Park In Oyster Bay, and while the main attractions will remain the same, there are some new things in store for festival-goers this year.
“We’re making every effort to get more attractions on the west end, which is under utilized,” said Richard Elias, president of the Rotary Club of Oyster Bay and vice chairman of the Oyster Festival.
The most notable of these attractions are the VIP lounge and the beer and wine tasting tent.
“We thought that part of the festival needs to be dressed up and decided to offer an upscale experience,” said Elias. “We also needed to find a way to create more revenue for the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund.”
One of the largest fundraisers of its kind, the Oyster Festival is a project of the Rotary Club of Oyster Bay and funded by the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund. While the cost of the festival itself is free, local charities rely heavily on this event annually to meet their budget goals. Profits from all food court sales directly support the many participating local charities, while the proceeds from carnival rides, merchandise sales, and the new VIP experiences, are donated to additional charities supported by the Rotary throughout the year.
In recent years, Elias said, the expenses of the festival have gone up, all of which are covered by the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund. By having more upscale events, more money can go to the fund, which will in turn go to local charities.
Those interested in the VIP Experience can pre-purchase a ticket via the festival’s website (www.oysterfestival.org) to gain entry to a waterfront space co-produced by Live Nation, the global leader for live entertainment. Here, guests can escape the crowds and relax on lounge furniture, play lawn games, enjoy complimentary soft drinks and sample freshly shucked oysters, courtesy of Frank M. Flowers and Sons, and experience several sponsor activations. Guests will also receive a complimentary gift, have access to an executive restroom, the use of a festival concierge to help guide them through the fest, as well as the option for VIP parking with shuttle service. Cost for this experience starts at $99.
Additionally, the Oyster Festival will feature a beer and wine tasting tent where guests will be able to purchase a ticket to enjoy samples of locally brewed beers and harvested wines from the tri-state area. Patrons will also receive an education on each brand and the story behind them. Proceeds from ticket sales—which cost $45 and $75—directly benefit the more than 30 charities that the festival supports in the hamlet of Oyster Bay.
Typically an alcohol-free event, this “beer and wine of the region” tent will allow people to sample beer and wine from the area. Elias said that all of the bartenders are TIP certified and will serve two-ounce samples. He noted that it will be heavily policed and is not intended to serve as a typical beer tent.
Other new attractions include Fireworks by Grucci, at 7 p.m. on Saturday; the park will stay open an hour later than usual and the fireworks will launch from the east end of the park. There will also be a butterfly tent that will allow people to go inside the exhibit with a feeding stick, feed, interact and learn fun facts about the butterflies.
The 35th Annual Oyster Festival will be on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 13 and 14, on the Waterfront at Theodore Roosevelt Park, Oyster Bay, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.