The Norwalk Seaport Association will hold its 33rd annual Oyster Festival this weekend, September 10,11 and 12th. Located in Veterans Park, the event will feature arts and crafts booths, live music, children's activities, and lots of food.
What started out as a moderately-sized event in 1978 to raise funds and awareness for Norwalk's maritime heritage, has grown into a large, late summer ritual in Fairfield County.
Unfortunately, there were years when the Oyster Festival had become a victim of its own success. As the event grew in size, it seemed to turn its back on the original purpose. Large tents packed with hucksters selling miracle cleaners, Catskill real estate, and singing bass had replaced the harbor tours and other nautical attractions. There were plenty of booths selling fried dough and beef-on-a-stick, but very few oysters. For a while, it had become just another street fair.
Apparently, I wasn't the only one turned off by this. The festival this year will include the return of an oyster pavilion, harbor tours, as well as the Schooners Quinnipiack, and Soundwater. Larry Flynn of Long Tails will also be on hand to give presentations on the wildlife of the Norwalk Islands. I welcome this decision with enthusiasm.
The Norwalk Seaport Association has played a vital role in the rehabilitation of Norwalk Harbor. Their work includes the restoration of Sheffield Island Lighthouse; the preservation of the Norwalk Islands; as well as many environmental and educational programs and projects.
Their purpose is:
"to foster public awareness of our maritime resources, environment and heritage through research, education and preservation; and also to foster the preservation and rehabilitation of the area of historical value in Norwalk Harbor and Long Island Sound."
This weekend's festival serves as the primary fundraising source for the invaluable work they do.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate, or online on their website.
Soundbounder: Norwalk Winter Oystering
Soundbounder: Peck Ledge Lighthouse
Soundbounder: Sheffield Island Ruins
Soundbounder: Norwalk Oyster Plant
CT Plus: Putting The Pearl Back In The Oyster
photo credit: (top) Norwalk Seaport; (bottom) Quinnipiack: SchoonerInc