Norwalk Oyster Festival means fun at Veteran's Park
Published 11:35 am, Sunday, September 4, 2011
A pair of platinum-selling alternative rock bands, along with heaping plates of oysters and clams, will be on tap when the Norwalk Seaport Association hosts the 34th annual Oyster Festival Friday, Sept. 9, through Sunday, Sept. 11.
Taking place at Veteran's Park on Long Island Sound, this year's end-of-summer celebration boasts performances by alternative rock bands Fuel and Soul Asylum, along with dozens of other live musical acs; the Thrust Action Sports Tour, featuring BMX, FMX and mountain bike trials; and an a plethora of activities for kids, including a Marvel Super Heroes show and Pirate's Coast Adventure.
Meanwhile, vendors will serve up the festival's most sought-after delicacy -- oysters and clams on the half shell.
"It's a festival for everyone," said Jerry Toni, chairman of the NSA Oyster Festival. "We've instituted a whole new group of attractions and events for families. And we've still got the oysters. It's all about the oysters."
As event-goers slurp the tasty crustaceans, they can enjoy performances by Soul Asylum and Fuel, whose hits include "Runaway Train" and "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)," respectively. Fuel will headline the festival on Friday at 9 p.m. and Soul Asylum will take the stage the following evening at 9 p.m.
Pirates -- of the friendly, rollicking sort -- will invade Veteran's Park throughout the weekend. Visitors will gasp as pirates face off in swashbuckling sword fights, fire off black powder cannons and pistols, and tell dramatic stories of overseas treasure hunts.
"Folks are very excited about (Pirate's Cove Adventure) because it's like seeing `Pirates of the Caribbean' live," said Rachelle Hayes, a pirate reenacter from Emerald Dragon Privateers. "Kids absolutely adore pirates. There's a lot of wide-eyed stares when they see you pull out your sword."
Wide-eyed stares also will be expected when bikers show off their precision moves and tricks during the Thrust Action Sports Tour show, also known as SlamFest. Mike Steidley of New Haven, the Tony Hawk of mountain bike trials -- a high-impact, acrobatic style of biking that emphasizes balance and accuracy -- will make an appearance at the show.
"These guys put their lives on the line," said Tom Grin, producer of Thrust Action Sports Tour. "Some are 65, 75 feet in the air. It requires a tremendous amount of skill."
The festival will be rounded out by games, arts and crafts, thrill rides, the BBQ Pit, dozens of nonprofit vendors and one of the festival's long-standing traditions, the oyster shucking and slurping contests.
The annual festival has long been the cultural centerpiece of Norwalk, which boasts a centuries-long history of oyster farming. The Oyster Festival has attracted 100,000 people or more in recent years, making it one of the New England's most popular waterfront festivals and "true community event," Toni said.
He added: "It brings so many people together."
Veteran's Park, adjacent to Norwalk Harbor on Seaview Avenue in Norwalk. Friday, Sept. 9, 6-11 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 11, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. $10 Friday; $12 Saturday, Sunday; $10 seniors all days; $5 ages 5-12; free under 5, U.S. military on active duty. www.seaport.org.