The Oyster Festival returns: Everything you need to know

2022 OYSTER FESTIVAL

Oct. 15 and 16 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park; 63 Larrabee Ave., Oyster Bay.; theoysterfestival.org. Free. 

Oyster Bay is buzzing in preparation for the 2022 Oyster Festival. One of Long Island's largest outdoor events will return in full swing to Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park this fall for the first time since 2019, the Oyster Bay Rotary is set to announce on Tuesday. Over 150,000 people typically visit the historic hamlet throughout the weekend, which this year lands on Oct. 15 and 16.

“From enjoying local oysters to watching shucking contests and shopping for handcrafted artisan goods and foods, the Oyster Festival attracts thousands of visitors while spurring economic activity and supporting great local charities,” says Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino.

This year’s event, dubbed the 39th annual, will offer a host of changes along with the revival of some past favorites including food trucks and oyster eating and shucking contests. “People in the area have missed it,” says event co-producer Harlan Friedman. The festival was held virtually in 2020 and canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic. 

Here's what to expect:

THE FOOD: OYSTERS, LOBSTER, CRABS AND MORE

The big draw is the festival’s massive food court. Guests can choose from a menu of over 60 food items starting with oysters on the half shell, fried oysters and homemade oyster stew.

Other seafood dishes will include a full lobster dinner, lobster bisque, lobster mac and cheese, lobster rolls, clams (raw or steamed), clam chowder, grilled shrimp, soft shell crabs, scallops, crabcakes, crab rolls, seafood gumbo, calamari, fish tacos and more.

Meat lovers can look forward to bacon-on-a-stick, meatball sliders, pulled pork sandwiches, steak sandwiches, Philadelphia cheesesteaks, homemade empanadas, sausage and pepper heroes and other selections.

Those with a sweet tooth can gorge on homemade apple pie a la mode, Belgian waffles with strawberries and cream, deep-fried Oreos, chocolate-dipped items, frozen hot chocolate, homemade fudge, fruit crepes and additional items.

A ticketed beer and wine tent will be offered for guests 21-and-over with flatscreens and a lounge overlooking Oyster Bay Harbor.

EVERYTHING ENTERTAINMENT: MUSIC AND CONTESTS

The Main Stage will be the only stage for performances this year as the West End Avenue Stage has been removed. All entertainment will be centralized on the Main Stage on the foot of the food court with the backdrop of Oyster Bay Harbor. The stage will be visible from half of the beer and wine tent.

Jericho High School senior Amanda Swickle, who has done the Broadway national tour of “Annie,” is scheduled to sing the national anthem at the opening ceremonies at 1 p.m. on the main stage on Oct. 15.

Oyster shucking and eating contests, sponsored by Newton Shows, will be featured on the Main Stage this year on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m., at the foot of the food court.

Ten shuckers will go head-to-head for four minutes trying to beat Rodney Dow’s record. In 1985, Dow beat Andy Schuller in a shuck-off after both men shucked 57 oysters in the allotted time. Dow shucked another 22 oysters in two minutes to win the shuck-off.

A dozen daring oyster eaters will attempt to overtake oyster eating champ David Leonard of Central Islip, who set the festival record with 480 oysters chugged in two minutes and five seconds in 1998.

After the contest, Grateful Dead cover band The Electrix takes the Main Stage on Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.

“A major date on The Electrix’s schedule for close to 20 years has been the Oyster Festival and it has been absent from our calendar since 2018,” says bassist Ray Kairys. “We are overjoyed to be a part of the festival once again and closing the day out on Oct 15th. See everyone there!”

DJ Theo of Commack gets behind the wheels of steel for his “Vinyl Party” on Oct. 16 at noon.

“I’m planning on spinning an all vinyl set of New Wave, Alternative, Funk, Rare Groove and House classics," says DJ Theo.

That '90s Band turns back the clock to play the hits of the ‘90s on Oct. 16 at 4 p.m.

On the docks, guests can take a ride on a 40-foot oyster sloop, The Christeen for a fee or climb aboard the John J. Harvey fireboat, which was used as a rescue vessel during 9/11.

FOR THE KIDS: A CARNIVAL, CONCERT AND GAMES

For children, the Kings of the Coast are planning a pirate encampment on the shores of Oyster Bay. Rebecca Kapica-Wygand will perform children’s songs on the West End Avenue platform on both days. Renie and Adam Cohen of Just One Wheel teach the art of unicycling on West End Avenue. Plus, Newton Shows puts on a full carnival with amusement rides, midway games and concessions at Firemen’s Field. 

For all ages, a giant arts and crafts tent featuring more than 100 vendors selling handmade items.

GETTING THERE

Dylan Cohen, of Syosset, eats an oyster at the Oyster...

Dylan Cohen, of Syosset, eats an oyster at the Oyster Bay Festival. Credit: Veronique Louis

Bus shuttles will be centralized at two locations — the Syosset train station and the James H. Vernon School in East Norwich. The Long Island Rail Road will also offer a special Oyster Festival package to encourage arrival by rail.

“We want to keep as much traffic out of the town if possible,” says Friedman.

BEHIND THE FEST

Michael Paparo, of Belrose Manor, left, and Jose Montoya, of...

Michael Paparo, of Belrose Manor, left, and Jose Montoya, of Hicksville, shuck oysters during the 36th annual Oyster Festival. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

The event helps raise funds for local nonprofit groups like the Boys & Girls Club of Oyster Bay-East Norwich, the Life Enrichment Center at Oyster Bay, the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum and others. It's presented by the Oyster Bay Rotary and sponsored by several local organizations including Connoisseur Media, Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, Patriot Water, Stop & Shop plus Catholic Health as the presenting sponsor.

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