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Sayville celebrates local business with 33rd annual Summerfest

A full carnival, complete with rides, food vendors

A full carnival, complete with rides, food vendors and games, was one of the main attractions at Summerfest, a three-day celebration along Main Street in Sayville. (Aug. 4, 2013) Credit: Amy Onorato

Lined along Main Street in downtown Sayville was a multicolored menagerie of more than 400 shiny, waxed automobiles, each with its own story to tell.

The cars were the highlight of the final day of Sayville’s 33rd annual Summerfest, a three-day celebration promoting local business in the area. The car show has been a part of the Sayville Summerfest tradition for 16 years.

“Walking down these streets, parents, kids, anyone, gets to walk back in time and go through history,” Lou Ellen Klints, secretary of Still Cruisin’ Car Club, a Selden not-for-profit that organized the car show, said. “It’s a way to see where it all came from.”

Although events like the car show remain a part of the Summerfest agenda, the Sayville Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event, decided to revamp the festival this year, bringing in new events and expanding on old ideas.

For the first time, the festival was given a special Americana theme by trying to take visitors back to the nostalgic world of the 1950s and also honoring America’s war heroes, veterans and fallen soldiers. As part of the theme, The Sayville Modern Diner, located on Main Street, was decorated like a 50s-style diner, serving milkshakes and burgers alongside their traditional menu.

Another new addition this year took place Saturday, when Sayville resident and Coast Guard veteran Charles Baak, 97, was honored in a special ceremony commemorating the troops, featuring vintage army tanks donated by the American Airpower Museum and a three-round volley.

“If it wasn’t for our soldiers, we wouldn’t be able to have festivals like this,” Frank Grasso, a member of the Sayville Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said.

The festival kicked off on Friday morning with a 4-mile fun run to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sayville Public Library. More than 500 participants ran through downtown Sayville, starting and finishing at the Rotary Club, just one block away from the heart of the festival on Main Street.

Throughout the weekend, stores along Main Street opened their doors to the thousands of festival visitors, and a large craft fair, featuring local vendors and artisans, lined Gillette and Railroad avenues.

Joan Morro, 72, of Northport, has sold her handmade Raggedy Ann dolls and marionette puppets at the Sayville Summerfest for more than 20 years. For Morro, it is the spirit of the community that keeps her coming back.

“It’s the same people every year, I get to know them and I recognize them,” Morro said. “Things may change, but you get to watch people grow up through the years.”

The festival also included musical performances by 33 diverse groups on six stages and a full-fledged family carnival with rides, games and food throughout the weekend.

Barbara Whitbread, 47, a member of the Sayville Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said the group hopes to continue to expand the festival every year to strengthen the unity of the community.

“We’re not only business owners. We’re parents, we’re artists, we’re active in the community,”  Whitbread, an 8-year Sayville business owner, said. “This neighborhood is a part of us.”

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