The warm September air was filled with nothing but laughter, singing and cheers. The usual traffic was replaced with happy families, enjoying delicious food and unique shopping. As summer officially came to a close, the streets of Red Bank came to life.
The ninth annual Guinness Oyster Festival took place on Sept. 30, 2018 from 12-7 p.m. in the White Street Municipal Parking Lot. Modeled after the Galway Oyster Festival to celebrate the beginning of oyster season, this popular street festival in Red Bank was once again a huge success.
The event served as a “culinary feast,” showcasing Red Bank’s restaurant dishes, as well as food from vendors. From lobster rolls to oysters to fried oreos to chocolate bacon, there was an option for everyone. Food vendors were so popular that their lines took up almost the entire width of the street.
One food vendor sold various flavors of gourmet pastry dips. This family business explained how fortunate they were to discover the event through the Internet because it rewarded them with enormous publicity.
“[It was] a very great experience. We’ve had a lot of business and the people were really nice,” said 19-year-old Alyssa Cassisi from East Brunswick, one of the workers running the stand. “We would love to come back next year.”
The festival was also kid-friendly. The roads were closed and guarded with police officers to ensure a safe environment. Freshly painted faces and twisted balloons made frequent appearances as kids excitedly scampered through the streets. They were drawn to carnival rides, a bounce house and for the first time, a petting zoo.
Two stages provided space for live music, seating and dancing. The music consisted of a mix of Irish, blues, funk, pop, rock and roll and more. Vendors also played a major role as people purchased unique items, such as jewelry, clothes, hats and other nick-nacks.
Some stands were designated for good causes. Many charity stands that worked to raise money and raise awareness.
Orphan Outreach solicited donations in order to fund international travel and medical mission trips.
However, not everyone received the desired results. “The people are quite stingy, for whatever reason,” said Dianne Berg, 52, of Toms River, a volunteer for Orphan Outreach.
This festival was so popular that people even crossed state lines to be there. Barry Allen, a 59-year-old from Philadelphia, travelled two hours to attend with his wife. This was his first time and he was incredibly pleased with the experience. “This was a great event,” he said, “with great food and great music.”