The Captree State Park boardwalk was buzzing with excitement as hundreds gathered for the ninth annual Fall Harvest and Seafood Festival.
The two-day event, held on Saturday and Sunday, attracted residents from all over Long Island to celebrate the beginning of fall and the harvest season.
“It’s a great fall kickoff,” said Jessica Anderson-Ruiz, 28, a special events coordinator for Long Island state parks, who was the lead coordinator for the event. “We do something to give back to the community every year, it’s what the recreation department is all about.”
The boardwalk was lined with tents that featured an assortment of vendors from educational organizations to arts and crafts. Among organizations on hand were the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Education, both informing guests about the importance of preserving land, animals and marine life on Long Island.
Children stayed busy participating in activities such as sand art, face painting, horseback riding and an inflatable slide and moon bounce. Families were also encouraged to participate in crab races.
The Fowler family cheered on the crabs at the race. “We really enjoyed that, it was absolutely fun and even better than pig races,” said John Fowler, 48, of Seaford.
Live entertainment included Amore the Magician, the rock band Feedback and the nonprofit Ye Pyrate Brotherhood. The Sayville-based pirate group performed five skits; members dressed as pirates took children on a treasure hunt and startled guests with sporadic shots of gunpowder and cannon blasts.
“We do stuff for kids and mom and dad,” said George Overin, 57, of Bohemia who plays Monti Babson, The Navigator.
“The weather couldn’t be more perfect and it’s a great event because its free, its on the water and there’s something for everyone,” said Karin Overin, 55, of Bohemia who plays Lucretia Lacey, The Cooper.
Aside from activities and live entertainment, the festival also offered a variety of food from pizza, to sausage and peppers to funnel cakes and, of course, seafood. Picnic tables were lined with guests indulging in Long Island’s very own fresh lobsters, mussels and oysters.
“It was my first time here but I really enjoy the seaside culture, especially the good food and good company,” said Amanda Vesey-Askey, 45, of Bay Shore.
Free boat rides were available throughout the day aboard the Moon Chaser, a 65-foot vessel that has been providing scenic rides in the Great South Bay for over 25 years. Among those waiting for an afternoon departure was Sharon Masrour, 49, of Bay Shore, who has been attending the festival since its inaugural year in 2004.
“My kids grew up coming here for the past nine years, we never miss it,” said Masrour. “We love taking advantage of the South Shore nature, it’s a wonderful event.”