Stuffed to the Gills at the Seafood Festival

The crowds came out for the inaugural Montauk Seafood Festival last weekend at the Montauk Marine Basin. James Fairchild took his turn at the straw in a goldfish race. Janis Hewitt

    With more than 8,000 people attending the Montauk Seafood Festival on Saturday and Sunday at the Montauk Marine Basin, you could say it was a hit. Saturday, the busier of the two days, saw up to 5,000 people waiting on long lines to buy food coupons used for seafood tastings under a tent, and cars were parked all over West Lake Drive, in nearby restaurant parking lots, and even down nearby side streets.

    Although all the numbers have not yet been tallied, Ken Giustino, an organizer and the publisher of The Montauk Sun, said the event pulled in $15,000 for charities, money that will be distributed through the Montauk Friends of Erin and the East Hampton Kiwanis Club.

    Under the tent there was ice-cold beer, fruit-infused cocktails, roasted corn, clam chowder, lobster sliders, oysters, and many other seafood delicacies, including clams on the half shell, most of which were shucked by Joe Bloecker, who said he opened about 1,600 clams on Saturday alone. There were also hamburgers and hot dogs, but on both days the food vendors ran out of food. Three bands played during the two days to much dancing.

    Meg Nye of Montauk won the snapper derby with an 81/4-inch fish that she was planning to cook for dinner. Kids had their own snapper derby, made fish art, and airbrushed T-shirts. Some of them also may have gained pearls of wisdom from the legendary local fishermen who spoke of the big ones that got away but also of those that didn’t.

    Other little ones blew through straws to encourage small fish to swim down a tube-like stream. One woman offered to keep the fish in her home when the games were over.

    “Hands down, it was a huge success,” said Laura Mastandrea, an organizer. She said she received incredible feedback, with quite a few suggestions for next year, such as extended hours (it ran from noon to 5 p.m. both days), more games for children, and more vendors.

    “I knew we’d have a home run, but we had to prove it to ourselves,” Mr. Giustino said.   

Sammy Joyce of Sammy’s restaurant served up lobster sliders, with help from Lesma Miller.Janis Hewit
ack Vaughan and Paul Snyder took a load off at Lynn’s Hula Hutt, also at the Marine Basin. Janis Hewit