A wind-whipped Oyster Festival enjoyed several hours of activity last Saturday afternoon before severe weather warnings forced the event's cancellation around 4:30 p.m.
The Veterans Park event, now in its 35th year, was briefly rained out last Saturday morning after seeing robust crowds last Friday night, Oyster Festival Committee Chairman Jerry Toni said. The festival then reopened for several hours Saturday afternoon until reports of possible thunderstorms and tornadoes forced organizers to cancel the evening activities.
"The No. 1 issue is the safety of our guests and volunteers," Toni said last Saturday afternoon, several hours before the skies darkened. "People do see the forecast and they get a little skeptical. But people know this is a nice event and I think they'll come out."
Westchester County resident Georgette Spindler made the drive from New York for her first Oyster Festival despite the gloomy forecast. She headed first to the food tent, and filled a small plate with clams doused in cocktail sauce. "We watched out for the tornado, but it turned out nice," Spindler said. "We came here with friends and are going to eat, walk around and do some shopping."
A pirate re-enactment camp stationed near Long Island Sound carried on Saturday afternoon despite the roiling waves. New Jersey resident Devlin O'Driscoll, with the company Bloody Historical, said he was "enjoying the heck" out of his first Oyster Festival.
"We do historical but amusing shows, so hopefully when the kids walk away, they had fun, but also might have learned something," O'Driscoll said.
Strong wind did not shake the pirates out of character. O'Driscoll said he began his seafaring ways after discovering an affinity for the pirate life.
"Some say a woman broke me heart, some say I failed at everything else," O'Driscoll said. "But I mostly just like the pillaging and burning."
O'Driscoll said the group planned to "batten down the hatches" and camp out in tents near the water Saturday night, even under thunderstorm conditions.
The Fanuko family has been attending Norwalk's Oyster Festival for almost 20 years. They first stumbled upon the event when they were in the area looking for houses ahead of their move to Connecticut from the Bronx, N.Y.
"It's a tradition," said Tara Fanuko. "We moved here 17 years ago and we come every year."
Her husband, John Fanuko, said he enjoys the food and music, which often includes bands "that used to play at Madison Square Garden."
"Even if you come for only a little while, it's fun," John Fanuko
The Village People were scheduled to headline the Saturday night concert, but the show was canceled due to the weather. Lou Gramm, lead vocalist of the band Foreigner, performed Sunday.
The Oyster Festival reopened Sunday with its originally scheduled family day activities lasting from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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