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Thousands attend Oyster Bay festival

The Oyster Festival featured an oyster-eating contest. (Oct.

The Oyster Festival featured an oyster-eating contest. (Oct. 13, 2012) Credit: Yana Paskova

The recipe is simple. When the sun is out and there's an autumn chill in the air, people come in droves to Oyster Bay's Oyster Festival.

The event, Saturday and Sunday in Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park, draws more than 150,000 people and they all come hungry.

Anthony and Patti Cennamo of Mineola wasted no time downing 20 oysters-on-the-half-shell and washing them down with some clam chowder.

"We are big seafood lovers," said Anthony, 51. "We don't like to put too much horseradish or Tabasco on our oysters because we want to taste the saltwater."

Between bites of oyster po'boys and oyster stew, festivalgoers had plenty to keep them busy. Live music played on multiple stages, historic ships were open for tours and there was an arts and crafts market.

Amy Denby, 33, of Port Washington, and daughter Annie, 2, visited their first tall ship, The Peacemaker. "The woodwork and stained glass is just beautiful," she said. "You don't realize how big it is until you're on board."

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the 29th annual fest occurred Saturday at the west end stage during the oyster shucking and eating contests. The crowd cheered on David Mahnken, 55, of Melville, who shucked 35 oysters in four minutes, capturing his 10th title in 12 years.

"The shells were tighter than last year. It was tough to find the bite on them," said Mahnken, who shucked five fewer than last year, when he took second. "I might retire after this, like Michael Jordan. I've had my fun."

In his first taste of oysters, Abraham Ozdemir, 25, of Manhattan, consumed 141 in two minutes, 40 seconds, for the top spot in the oyster eating contest. "I decided to try it for the pride and the glory," said Ozdemir, who grew up in Holbrook. "They slid down too easy. I don't know how I'm going to feel later."



29th annual Oyster Festival


WHEN/WHERE 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park, West End Avenue, Oyster Bay

INFORMATION 516-628-1625,, rain or shine


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