The first Oyster Bay Market of 2022 drew a crowd last Sunday. Locals and visitors from across Nassau County lingered at stands offering fresh produce, craft goods and artisanal foods.
The market, which will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Sunday through Nov. 13, has been a fixture in town from spring to fall since its inception in July 2020. The event was the brainchild of Laura Escobar, an Oyster Bay resident and the event’s organizer.
Escobar is the owner of the Hive Market & Maker’s Space, a local gift shop that also offers classes for adults and children. She explained after the event that she really became motivated to create the market after seeing how the Oyster Bay business community suffered during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The idea to bring a food-driven market to the hamlet was my passion project,” Escobar said. “For the community to be able to come together outdoors during that, you know, very questionable time was just amazing.”
Escobar asked Meredith Maus, executive director of the Oyster Bay Main Street Association, to help her get the event going. Maus and Main Street have sponsored the Sunday market for the past two years. The association, Maus said, was happy to get involved in an event that helps the community.
“It’s a way to support our local businesses and local individuals who don’t have brick-and-mortar shops,” she said. “It brings the community together and walking around the downtown.”
The market is set up in the municipal parking lot on Audrey Avenue across the street from Billy Joel’s 20th Century Cycle, near Town Hall. Stands offer foods and services from Oyster Bay and neighboring communities, from oysters to eggs to honey to artisanal crafts.
Beagan Gooth, who operates the produce company Hegemans Farm in Old Brookville, manned one stand. Gooth is a member of the Young family, and grows crops on the family farm and sells them on his own.
The Hegemans Farm stand had tomatoes, squash, beets and carrots for sale. Gooth said he had been coming to the Oyster Bay market since it opened.
“There’s a nice community involved with the market,” he said after the event. “A lot of the locals like what I sell because it’s local, too.”
One stand was occupied not by a business, but by the nonprofit Oyster Bay Historical Society, which is now in its second year at the market. It offered books from its gift shop and collectibles made by the stand manager, Elizabeth Roosevelt.
Denice Sheppard, executive director of the Historical Society, said that the market showed the hamlet its own potential, in addition to helping the society raise its profile. “It brings a sense of pride and understanding to see what others in the community have to offer,” Sheppard said. “And it gives the community an opportunity to learn more about us, who we are, and our exhibits, programs and events.”
Alison Steindler and her boyfriend, Michael Schlitz, offered market-goers fresh food, like their seven-layer heirloom zucchini lasagna and blueberry bourbon dark chocolate brownies. The couple ran Chicken’s Coop in Huntington from March 2020 to October 2021, and are now looking to buy and run a food truck business that will be called the Grandma’s Table.
“We love the spirit of the event and the craft of what people do, and everything about the culture,” Steindler said. “So it’s a great way to just network with people and be surrounded by people you enjoy being surrounded by.”
One regular seller, Chris Marzuk, of Greenlawn, a woodworker who makes chairs, lazy Susan table centerpieces and cutting boards, was unable to make it to Sunday’s opening. A member of the Oyster Bay High School class of 1968, Marzuk said he would be at all of the future markets, as he has been since 2020.
A former attorney, Marzuk said that all of the money he has made at the markets has gone to Long Island Cares, the Harry Chapin Food Bank. “I’ve met people from Northport, Locust Valley, Syosset — all over the area — at the market,” Marzuk said after the event. “It’s great for the town — and it’s a great town — and there are more people every week there to promote it. It’s a win-win.”