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A pearl of a festival in Oyster Bay

A plate of oysters at the 2007 annual

A plate of oysters at the 2007 annual Oyster Festival. (2007) Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Oyster Festival

If the world is your oyster, then this weekend your oyster is the world.

The 27th annual Oyster Festival starts shucking Saturday in Oyster Bay. Expect bivalves in bulk and 30-plus vendors going beyond bluepoints at the fest's food court in Theodore Roosevelt Park.

"We need a sunny day," says Beverly Zembko, preschool teacher and food-court chair. "I'll take cloudy." She estimates 100,000 visitors on a rain-free day.

More than 25 local, nonprofit organizations benefit from the two-day festival, which also features visiting tall ships, Coast Guard rescue demonstrations, pirate-themed shows and, Saturday, the oyster shucking and eating contest.

Advice for both days: take the Long Island Rail Road to the Oyster Bay station.

WHO IS COOKING

Participating restaurants include Jack Halyards American Bar & Grill, which succeeded Fiddleheads in Oyster Bay; V's Hot and Sweet in Oyster Bay; Mill Creek Tavern in Bayville; and The Fishery in East Rockaway.

Gooseberry Grove, the ice-cream parlor in Oyster Bay, also is sweetening the affair, as is the Crossroads Cafe mobile food cart, a mainstay en route to downtown. Food suppliers include Frank M. Flower and Sons oyster farm, Fasullo's Food Service and Gyro & Souvlaki LLC. They're preparing food at booths sponsored by the nonprofits, which pay a fee to participate.

CATCHES OF THE DAY 

Festival sponsor, the Oyster Bay Rotary Club, will offer oysters on the half shell. With the Mill Creek Tavern of Bayville, the club also sends out mussels in white wine and lobster bisque. Crossroads Cafe contributes corn chowder, seared salmon and, for dissenters, a sliced beef brisket sandwich.

The booth of the Oyster Bay Lions Club buttresses the menu with oyster stew, roasted corn, pierogies and, just in case, kielbasa sandwiches. The Mill River Rod and Gun Club takes a shot with fried oysters. And the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum rides in bearing seafood gumbo, crab rolls, shrimp cocktails and grilled shrimp, all washed down with Saranac Root Beer.

Doubleday-Babcock Senior Center's tent is the source for homemade clam fritters, and clam chowders. Lobster rolls add a summery note from the Youth & Family Counseling Agency, which also has cream of she-crab soup, seafood sliders and shrimp Parmesan sandwiches as well as breakfast sandwiches.

The North Oyster Bay Baymen's Association tent catches attention with steamed clams, clams on the half-shell and lobster dinners. Oyster Bay Fire Company No. 1 arrives with crab cakes. American Legion Quentin Roosevelt Post No. 4: soft-shell crabs, clam strips, fried shrimp. And Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8033 mans fryers with sweet potatoes, spuds and calamari.

PASSPORT CUISINE

The Hispanic Cultural Center of Oyster Bay oversees a Latin side-trip with empanadas, pupusas, tacos, nachos and tostadas with guacamole.

And you'll find more than a tableful of vintage Italian-American specialties. These include sausage-and-pepper hero sandwiches at the Italian-American Citizens Club table; tomato-and-mozzarella panini from the St. Dominic CYO; and zeppole from the St. Dominic High School Parents Club.

Take a Greek turn via the Italian-American Ladies Auxiliary, which will be selling gyros, souvlaki, shish kebab, spinach pies and Greek salads. 

AMERICAN FAVORITES 

Hamburgers, hot dogs, curly fries and Brooklyn-style egg creams will be available at the Oyster Bay Cooperative Preschool's booth. So will lemonade, funnel cakes and Italian ices.

Oyster Bay High's Interact Club (Junior Rotary) operates a booth for hot chocolate and frozen hot chocolate, homemade fudge, cookies and pretzels.

The OB-EN Soccer Club kicks in with Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, Belgian waffles with strawberries and cream, apple pie and ice cream, and, crossing borders, bratwurst and potato pancakes, and "mozzarepas." Pulled-pork sandwiches and Texas-style chili highlight the stall of the Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce. Boy Scout Troop 253 runs the booth for cotton candy, popcorn, apple fritters and bottled water.

27th Annual Oyster Festival

WHEN |WHERE 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Theodore Roosevelt Park, Oyster Bay

INFO 516-628-1625, theoysterfestival.org

ADMISSION Free

GETTING THERE Free shuttle buses will loop between dedicated parking lots and the park. LIRR passengers can access the festival from the Syosset or Oyster Bay train stations.

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