Despite a significant shift in its sponsorship status, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said 2019’s Oyster Festival is still on schedule for the weekend of Oct. 19-20. Saladino made the announcement during a Sept. 9 press conference at Theodore Roosevelt Park in Oyster Bay, shortly after the title sponsor, Harmony Home Concierge, did not renew its sponsorship status from last year.
In response, Stop & Shop, Ferrari-Maserati of Long Island and the Blumenfeld Development Group donated $5,000 to the festival. Altice USA reduced its $20,000 sponsorship to $10,000. Additionally, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency could donate roughly $20,000 pending voter approval.
“There was a loss of a main event sponsor, and we realized it was time to step up, step in and make this happen,” Saladino said. “Quite frankly, we could not allow a year to go by without an Oyster Fest.”
Saladino said that the town is still seeking a title sponsor for the event for $40,000. Other sponsorship opportunities are still available as well.
Former State Sen. Carl Marcellino is the president of the Rotary Club of Oyster Bay, which has run the Oyster Fest for the last 20 years. He said one of the driving forces to keep the Oyster Fest alive is the need to support the many non-profit charity organizations that benefit from the festival. A great deal of the proceeds made during the festival go toward those charities, and they depend on the roughly 200,000 people who enjoy Oyster Fest to continue their good work.
Festival spokeswoman Alissa Marti said all of the proceeds garnered through work by the non-profits go directly to those specific charities, including food sold throughout the festival. The town receives no profits through those means, she said.
Rich LaMarca, president of the Oyster Bay Civic Association, said a lack of sponsorships is not the only issue facing the Oyster Fest, as expenses for the festival have gone up from last year as well. He said there are not as many volunteers working the festival as there have been in the past, so the town needs to hire people to do so.
LaMarca said the town and Rotary Club have worked on ways to lower expenses, including providing services by the town such as sanitation, help in physically setting up the event and providing power generators. However, he said more sponsors are still needed to properly fund the festival.
Detailing further cutbacks to save money, Marti said, “The Oyster Bay Charitable Fund has been replacing some of the expensive features like tall ships and fireworks with less expensive, more community-minded activities.”
“A lot of numbers have come down,” LaMarca said, “but not enough to offset the shortfall in the sponsorships.”
Any businesses or individual who wish to become an Oyster Festival sponsor can visit www.theoysterfestival.org for more information.