The Montauk Seafood Festival will have its inaugural launch on the weekend of Sept. 21 at the Montauk Marine Basin on West Lake Drive from noon to 5 p.m.
The two-day event will be held under a tent near the Hula Hut and have nonstop music by three bands, food from at least 12 local restaurants, a snapper derby, goldfish races, and fish printing and airbrush painting on T-shirts and hats. In addition to seafood there will be burgers and hot dogs for the landlubbers.
The event was the brainchild of Joe Bloecker, the president of the Montauk Friends of Erin, who invited the East Hampton Kiwanis to get on board. A group of planners started meeting about three months ago. They brought in Laura Mastandrea, who has helped out at other charitable events, to organize the festival and line up sponsors. “The response has been good,” she said.
Food vendors pay a fee of $500 for a space. Visitors will pay a small fee to try various restaurants’ specialties, and $1 from each item purchased will be added to the festival’s proceeds, which will benefit other activities sponsored by the two civic groups throughout the rest of the year, such as Toys for Tots, pediatric trauma care, the Montauk St. Patrick’s Day parade, and scholarships.
Another goal of the festival is to attract people to Montauk’s harbor area, said Carl Darenberg, one of the planners and the owner of the Montauk Marine Basin. “There’s a harbor out here and people aren’t aware of it. We’re trying to pull visitors from the downtown area,” he said. “Montauk is supposed to be the fishing capital of the world, and lately it’s been very quiet on the docks.”
It seemed appropriate that the organizers met on a windy, rain-swept dock at the marine basin to go over their plans Tuesday afternoon. Lynn Calvo of the Hula Hut said she would be making her signature fruit infusion and “shark bite” drinks, Mr. Bloecker will be shucking clams, and Mr. Darenberg was reminded that he will be one of the living fishing legends giving hourly talks to groups about the heady days of fishing in the hamlet.
Ken Giustino, another planner and the publisher of The Montauk Sun, said the festival will help extend the season, similar to the Montauk Music Festival, which he started several years ago to kick off the season a few weeks before Memorial Day. Mr. Giustino is also one of the sponsors, as is My Earth Water, whose products will be sold at the festival, and Despatch Self Storage.
Some of the food that will be served, in addition to clams, burgers, and dogs, are lobster rolls, ahi tuna slides, ceviche, fish tacos, crab cakes, oysters, and seafood crepes. “I told them to do something you can do fast and something you do well,” Mr. Bloecker said of the participating restaurants.
For the kids, the snapper derby will take place right on the dock at the marine basin, where Mr. Darenberg said the snappers have been plentiful and as big as bluefish lately. Admission is free, and the festival will be held rain or shine.