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Remson Keeps Oyster Festival Patrons Fed and Happy

NORWALK, Conn. – Any event named after a tasty bivalve mollusk just has to have food as a major component. So it's possible Joe Remson might have the most important job at the Norwalk Oyster Festival .

Remson is in charge of the food concessions, a job he has been doing for 18 years.

Remson's fiefdom is the food tents, which are manned by local nonprofits and community groups, and his job begins before the festival is even a thought in most people's minds. "We line up the groups that are doing tents, and make sure there's no duplication," he says. "We try to have a wide range of food that will appeal to everyone."

When a new group approaches, Remson says he "goes to the expert," Hartford Provision, and asks what's popular, and will suggest that.

This year's festival, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday, will have a dozen offerings, including barbecued chicken, funnel cakes, hot dogs and hamburgers, pizza frites, Greek specialties, and, of course, clams and oysters. New additions to the menu include crab cakes ("a lot easier to eat and less messy than soft shell crabs," says Remson) and eggplant Parmesan to go with meatball and sausage grinders.

Remson's work cranks up as the festival gets closer, mapping out where each booth will go and making sure they're set up properly. Once the festival is under way, there's an almost constant flow of Pepsi drink products in and garbage out of the food area, which is situated on the water side of Veterans Memorial Park.

The job doesn't end when the last patron leaves Sunday evening – far from it. "Monday is pretty hectic," says Remson, noting that everything has to be out of the park by 5 p.m.

It's the kind of job that can burn up the calories. Fortunately, Remson has plenty of options to replace them, and thanks to him, so will this weekend's thousands of festivalgoers.

What's your favorite food at the Oyster Festival?

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