NORWALK, Conn. – Crunch week has begun for the organizers of Norwalk's Oyster Festival, with banners to hang, tents to set up and electrical wires to run before the event opens Friday night.
What's new? For the first time in about five years, you'll be able to "Pick a Pearl," which has "always been a favorite," said Gerald "Jerry" Toni of the Norwalk Seaport Association, Oyster Festival director. For a minimum of $20, you can open an oyster, which is guaranteed to have a pearl inside.
Big acts include the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, The Village People on Saturday and Lou Gramm of Foreigner on Sunday. The Rising, a Bruce Springsteen cover band, will open the show Friday night, while Second Street Saints will open for the Village People.
"It's a good lineup," Toni said. "We're excited about having the Village People back again. We're sort of celebrating our anniversaries together. We've been doing this for 35 years, and the Village People have been around for exactly 35 years."
The set up will be different, though. Organizers worked with the Parks and Recreation Department to minimize the festival's impact on the playing fields at Veterans Park. "We reorganized the entire event park," Toni said. "Everything is kind of moved around, but it will be good. ... Virtually everything is in a different spot."
Included in the admission price is the Pirates Coast Adventure, including a chance for children to meet "real life pirates" in an interactive pirate encampment that shows what seafaring was like during the golden age of piracy from 1650 to 1750. More up to date is the Fast Action Motor Sports area, where kids can get in a race car simulator and race slot cars, and a Marvel Superheroes show.
"We've got the giant puppet show about exploring the sea on Saturday," Toni said. There will be live animals on hand and opportunities to learn about oystering.
There are more food vendors than last year, Toni said. Offerings will include brick oven pizza, Thai food, Italian and German sausages and barbecue as well as "all the old favorites," such as St. Ann's pizza fritta. The arts and crafts festival will help you get your Christmas shopping done early, he said.
Admission for adults is $5 on Friday, $12 on Saturday and Sunday. Senior tickets are $10 all days. Children ages 5 to 12 are $5. Children under 5 and U.S. military personnel on active duty are free. Tickets are available online.
Sunday is Family Day, with special prices: one child (age 5-12) free with each paid adult admission. Free parking and a free shuttle bus service is provided from four local parking lots, found by following the signs to Oyster Festival Parking.
Volunteers are needed. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-838-9444.