Oyster Bay is famous for two big reasons: Theodore Roosevelt spent his summers at his home on Sagamore Hill and Billy Joel currently resides in the seaside hamlet. But for one weekend, each October, people flock to the town, filling it well above its capacity, for the annual Oyster Festival. This year marks the 33rd year of the event, which has grown and evolved with the town over the course of its life. The festival outgrew it’s original space on the town’s East Main Street and now swallows Oyster Bay from South Street all the way to Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park.
This year’s Oyster Festival (or simple, Oyster Fest, as we locals are wont to say) is October 15 and 16 from 11 am to 6 pm both days. The main happenings are located in the park, which will be taken over by a variety of fair food—everything from zeppoles and other fried sweets sponsored by St. Dominic’s High School Parents Group to fish po’boys and yucca fries from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Oyster Bay Flotilla. But the main attraction is in the name: Oysters! All of the oysters for the two-day event are donated by the owners of Frank M. Flower & Sons.
The donated oysters, used by a dozen of the food vendors, will also be slurped down in the annual Oyster Eating Contest taking place from 2-3pm both days. It’s not for the faint of heart. Last year’s winner, David Bates, 31, of Worcester Massachusetts, downed 85 oysters in two minutes and 40 seconds.
If seafood isn’t your thing, take a tour of the Arts & Crafts tent located in the park or meander down East Main Street, where most of the town’s businesses will set up outdoor shops. Restaurants remain open during the festival, so stop by local-favorite Taby’s for a burger or gyro or a more refined Italian meal at <a href=”https://www.ediblelongisland.com/2016/08/30/kerriann-eats-osteria-leana-new-jewel-oyster-bay/”>Osteria Leana</a>. Craft beer lovers also have a place at the fair, with <a href=”http://oysterbaybrewing.com”>Oyster Bay Brewing Co</a> finally settled into their newly renovated brewery. Stop in, grab a flight, and maybe catch the Islanders Game while sipping the team’s favorite brew: The Barn Rocker.
The closed-off streets will also be lined with musicians playing everything from original songs to covers. Don’t worry, Joel fans. You’re bound to hear at least one rendition of Uptown Girl but not from the Piano Man himself. Although you might catch a glimpse of him working on one of his treasured motorcycles at <a href=”http://www.20thcenturycycles.com/what-is-20th-century-cycles.html”>20th Century Cycles</a>.
For more information on this weekend’s festivities and a full schedule of events, visit the official <a href=”http://theoysterfestival.org/”>Oyster Festival website</a>.