By Kaela Kilfoil
I walk out of my front door and onto the street, continuing against the endless line of cars up my block. This is the one weekend a year when the locals always know what to expect. The 33rd Annual Oyster Festival took place on October 15th and 16th this year, and it welcomed visitors from all over New York and beyond. The record crowd of 285,000 people filled our little, normally quiet town of Oyster Bay.
Growing up here, and being an active member in the nonprofit societies and clubs that fill our school’s halls, I have the privilege each year of viewing the festival from the inside. By volunteering through Interact Club for Oyster Bay’s very own ice cream shop Gooseberry Grove, many other student volunteers and I saw the benefit this festival brings for the community’s local businesses.
Oyster Bay High School student Faith Martin revealed with a chuckle, “Although it does overwhelm some of the Oyster Bay population, I’ve never seen such a long line in my life for Carvel!”
Gooseberry Grove sold thirty different flavors of fudge, frozen hot chocolate, Oreo churros, and cold brew coffee from Long Island's up and coming coffee company Sail Away. Gooseberry Grove is only one of 39 food court booths the festival offers, so the options for even the most serious foodies are truly infinite.
Through the high school’s National Honor Society, I also volunteered with the Long Island Picture Frame & Art Gallery of Oyster Bay. As I handed out maps to the incoming visitors, the busloads of people seemed endless. Approximately eight police officers were needed to direct this influx of people at one intersection. This is more visitors than Oyster Bay sees in a year! As people passed by and I gave them maps or directions, I noticed the variety of different languages spoken. Visitors came from so many different backgrounds, which was refreshing for our quaint little town to experience.
Interact Vice President Kimia Khaledi described the event best when she explained, “The Oyster Festival brings together a wide array of community members. This exchange of diversity leads to publicity among local businesses. By exposing town residents and visitors to Oyster Bay businesses, we are significantly improving our community.”
Oyster Fest has much to offer each year, and this year was no exception. With the sightings of prominent figures such as Senator Chuck Schumer eating corn on the cob, the constant musical talent heard all the way from the beach to Main Street, and the endless array of delicious foods for even the pickiest of pallets, who wouldn’t want to come to Oyster Fest? If you missed our annual event, be sure to check it out next year!