Norwalk: Oyster Fest Kicks Off Tommorow

Vets park has been taken over by billowing tents of oysters. Well, not exactly. But the Oyster Festival kicks off tommorow through the week end.

Chris Shays has decided to have a table this year, which means local Republicans will be out in force. Local Dems do not plan on having a table.

More on the festival by Marcia Powell:

From its beginning in 1978, the annual Norwalk Seaport Association Oyster Festival has provided opportunities for area nonprofit organizations to raise funds that are returned to the greater Norwalk community through scholarships, programs and services. Thousands of volunteers from the Norwalk Seaport Association and more than two dozen other non-profits will be working at the 30th annual festival on Sept. 7, 8 and 9.

All the International Food Court vendors are nonprofit groups, who last year raised an estimated $200,000 during the festival.

Six organizations that participated in the first NSA Oyster Festival: The Exchange Club of Norwalk, Flotilla 72 Corporation, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, Norwalk Athletic Association, Norwalk Jaycees, Rotary Club of Norwalk and Sons of Italy, still run food booths. Other Food Court participants this year include the Darien/Stamford Chapter, American Red Cross, East Avenue United Methodist Church, Huntington Congregational Church, and Norwalk Firefighters Local No. 830. The Norwalk Seaport Association also runs three food booths.

The Norwalk Seaport Association contributes $40,000 annually to 12 community service organizations and school groups by hiring them to work at the Oyster Festival. These include the Band Parents, Football Boosters, Parents Club, Post-Graduation Party Committee, and Soccer Team from Brien McMahon High School; the Marching Bears Inc., Football Team, Post-Graduation Party Committee and Connecticut 81st Air Force Junior ROTC from Norwalk High School; American Chemical Society from Sacred Heart University; Boy Scout Troop 19 from Norwalk; and Stratford Eagles (Civil Air Patrol).

The Oyster Festival is the major revenue source for the nonprofit Norwalk Seaport Association, which raised $150,000 from the 2006 Oyster Festival to continue its responsibilities for preserving and restoring the1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse and to incorporate this Fairfield County treasure into its educational programs for students from throughout the area.
The Norwalk Seaport Association is wholly responsible for the organization and costs of the each year’s Oyster Festival. No city tax dollars are used for the festival and the Seaport Association pays almost $90,000 for city services related to the festival.

22 comments

  1. Aunt Bertha

    I still can’t bring myself to go and pay what is it now $12 to get in if my family goes it is $48 dollars just to get into the park. Then you buy some water and a snack and you are down another $50. It is just too much and it is nice that they give back to the community, but I also give to the groups that ask me for donations or sell fundraiser items. I hope you have fun there. :)

  2. 06853

    Aunt Bertha: I agree, I remember the early days when the Oyster Festival was not only affordable for families but also an actual Oyster Festival, very homespun with Revolutionary War re-enactors who camped out for the weekend and a kids area that was stocked with dunking booths, pie throwing booths and other fun games all run by various local groups (I remember manning a booth with the BMHS Key Club, what fun!) It seems to have outgrown itself and I’m afraid I find that I cannot bring myself to shuttle down to Vets to eat mediocre food, listen to over-the-hill musical acts or roam the endless tents filled with overpriced and underwhelming “arts & crafts” one more time. It is a valiant effort by the Seaport Association, but I do so long for the good ol’ days…(sigh)…

  3. EAst Norwalk Native

    I remember when when admission was free (or a donation) and then it went up to a dollar.

    It is a wonderful event, and very well organized, but just too expensive now.

    I am horrible with numbers and it’s late, but if memory serves me it started in 1978, so wouldn’t the 30th anniversary be next year?

  4. Art Santella

    I wish the best to them. Let me know of anything that has gone down in price that affects the Oyster Fest, such as Police and Fire protection, Insurance, gas, setup and help. I also remember when it was free to get in, and there was always a riot at the area of the beer tent, and fighting which turned many families away. They have tried to solve their problems along the way, and have been quite successful. They are trying their best to put this on. I feel that if it comes to a point where it has to close, that Norwalk will have lost a festival that it will never again see the likes of. For the size of this event they have been pretty good neighbors over they years, and have considered the effect that they have on the surrounding neighborhood and taken steps to think about us.

  5. anonymous

    Remember. It is a requested donation of 12 dollars. You can give what you wabt or nothing at all. It is prohibited to charge admission to a city park in norwalk. They may charge a parking fee (the beach) but cannot demand payment to enter the park. They may request a suggested donation, but cannot make it mandatory. If you tell the person at the booth that you will not pay to enter the park, they will bring over a supervisor to escort you in for free.

  6. ANON2

    I think that #5 is correct. I believe it is either city ordinance or deed restriction for vet’s park. Turff, can you post the actual rule for us?

  7. John Leonetti

    I am not sure about the question. There may be a fine line between getting into the park and getting into the event. Interesting. Parks & Rec should know.

  8. Anonymous

    I hope that while many of you are enjoying the Oyster festival this year, that some might remember the volunteers that helped to create it – Col.Shale “Bud” Tulin (deceased) and Bunny Scott along with others that worked so hard to get this off of the ground.
    I doubt that there are people on the Seaport Association today who even remember who they are, but they were among many who made it happen so many years ago.

  9. anon again

    I suspect the reason it’s called a donation is because the seaport is a non-profit. You can also, then, deduct your “donation”. I’d be surprised if there were any deed restriction around not charging because it’s a public park.

  10. i told you so-not!

    The fee has to have approval from the Common Council every year when they request the use of the park. Yes they can charge a fee ie. donation.
    I agree with #1&#2 #12. I still attend but do not really enjoy it anymore. It has become a music and beer festival. Retuning to its initial simpler format ,would reduce its expenses and the amount of volunteers needed.
    There entertainment offerings are the PITs
    They should check out Milford’s Oyster Festival. Lot to be said K.I.S.S.

  11. Aunt Bertha

    I went to Milford’s Oyster Fest both days and it was very nice and then had diner at the Stone Bridge it was fun. I bought jewerly, and food, and some Christmas gifts and had diner for all under $150. How great is that? Then we listened to the band and went home. Norwalk has gotten too big.

  12. anonymous

    What were they thinking at the oyster festival. It has become a midway with adult rides. Teenagers are all crowded together fighting each other. They are all packed in the ride area like sardines. Police were all over the place chasing groups of teens running after each other to fight. Very poor planning.

  13. mike mushak

    What a bunch of sourpusses! Jay and the Americans were fabulous last night, and the place was packed with people on their feet screaming for more. The music was way before my time (the Village People is more my era, and I’ll be there while most of you miserable coots sit home in front of your computer whining about everything), but I enjoyed it with a bunch of friends. Twelve bucks was a bargain for all this great entertainment! Ate yummy local oysters (and survived so far!), listened to another band do Janis Joplin numbers, had a beer and a margherita, and bought some tacky gifts. I spent about ten bucks and ten tries to get a ping pong ball in a jar of water, to win a tiny goldfish, and that money all went to some local school group I think. The fish is in a bowl on my kitchen table, and tonight I hope to get him a friend. Went on some scary rides and the oysters stayed down, barely. All in the name of charity. Some of you need to get out more! I’ll be there tonight (got a bunch of friends coming in from NYC who can’t wait), and I’ll be there tomorrow for the Latin jazz afternoon. The guys from Mystic that sing sea chanties will be there on the pier from 12 to 5 tomorrow. Last year I sat on an old schooner and listened to them for hours, then bought their CD’s. Great music for the old seaport mood, if you are as weird as I am and enjoy that sort of thing. Had it in the car for a January field trip to Mystic last year (great time to go-no tourists, just you and the old ships, and the really cool old planetarium.) As for the rest of you whiners, take an anti-depressant and get out for some fresh air. As far as demanding free entry, I guess that’s fine if you must, but that just sounds really tacky if you can otherwise afford it. What, the lighthouse preservation and educational boat trips aren’t good enough for you? Compare it to a tank of gas, and its next to nothing.
    Well, got to go and practice my YMCA routine!

  14. indiga

    I recall being at the Marine Corp Birthday Ball in Washington DC and — rather late in the evening — the band played Y M C A. I was face to face with a 4 or 5 star genral who said: “You know, I can get the Y, the M, and the A. But that doggone C…”

    Hey..Hey…Hey,Hey, Hey…

  15. Mr Greenpeace

    Ok so I complain about everything that moves or happens in Norwalk, but for once I will simply say i am impressed with the people,,ok so we have some critics on the music, tonight yes there was a laspe between bands and yes the show didn’t last that long but what about the people,,what about what Seaport does for the city , what about the volunteers, I saw nothing but devoted people making sure the handicap, the kids the elderly being taken care of so everyone could have a good time, everyone was from my vantage point acting responsible and very professional..ok maybe I could weigh in on things that were not clearly in control of the sponsers or the directors but just the same this was a open letter asking why can’t what I saw from volunteers, devoted indivisuals all of which work many types of job in many types of busniess be duplicated by our city including security.No I’m not knocking the hard working employees of the city I’m asking if we can get all these police officers , firemen and emts to service what 1/10 of Norwalk in Vets park for the evening with 1/100 the amount of beer in the entire city why can’t we do this with how many full time officers outside the park?

    Just goes to show it can be done, we can protect the city from crime, robbery and mayhem as long as they are in Vets park,,and not on our streets.

    How about some numbers, how many officers did we have tonight, how many fire and emts and how much happened outside the city with how many on outside the fence outside the area of the fest,,

    You know it was a great day, I met many people from all over the city who not only care but enjoy Norwalk,,so with that I’ll go back to my old nasty self monday complaing about Norwalk it will take that long for the meds to wear off.

    thank you seaport not for just tonight but for what you do for the kids the bands and ect an example for the rest of us,,

    the price well we can address all that next week for now lets give some credit to those who do for those who need,

  16. #13 of the Miserable 25

    Looks like today “Sunday” is going to be a great day for the Festival. Looks like that rain that was supposed to start this morning will hold off until later tonight. How did Marsha get the weather to agree with her wishes? I bet there were more than a few “No Rain” dances going on a the Seaport HQ. :-)

    On the other hand we do need some serious rain. I just read that the trout season stocking may be hindered do to the fact that there is not sufficient water in the rivers for a full stocking.

    If we don’t get rain, we may have a real fire problem in the state forests this fall.