October 04, 2006

Clams, Chowder And A Carousel

The Montauk Chamber of Commerce hosts its 25th annual fall festival on the green this weekend. This year's event promises lots of tradition, plus some new features.

According to the Chamber's Laraine Creegan, the clam chowder contest is "the big highlight." Twenty-six local restaurants will submit their versions of the tasty, stewy, seafood soup. It will be served hot at a station right in front of the chamber office on Main Street. And the winner is deemed the people's choice. Festival attendees can buy a commemorative mug filled with chowder, then select their fave. Within 90 minutes thousands of servings are ladled, Creegan reported. "We start at noon and it's all gone by 1:30," she said.

On the green, kiddies will thrill to four huge inflatable rides and, new this year, a carousel replete with chariots and 30 horses. Grownups can purchase bracelets that give entry to the rides, and the carnival-esque game booths both. And at the end of the day, tots take home a special festival favor — a big lollipop with a seafood or seafaring theme.

Beyond chowder, there will be shuckers setting out clams on the half shell, plus traditional fair fare like roasted corn, hot dogs, cotton candy and popcorn. Checking out all the attractions is thirst-provoking work, so Octoberfest-style beers and North Fork wines will be available for adults.

Crafts are also a highlight of the day. Kids can decorate pumpkins and Halloween treat bags, or have their faces painted. The Montauk Surfcasters are hosting a poster contest, with winners to be displayed in the chamber office. Crab races round out the festival with hilarity as young and old watch their crustacean version of Seabiscuit round the track.

The festival is completely manned by volunteers, the proceeds benefit chamber activities. Additional funds will be raised through the raffle of the 19-foot Pro Line boat that's been seen in front of the COC's digs since its debut in the St. Paddy's Day parade last March. On Sunday The Montauk Playhouse Foundation will host a Chinese auction with over 100 prizes. Still another auction will feature sports memorabilia.

Live music from the famous Montauk trio Bruce, Bucky and Brendan will highlight the happenings.

The festival takes place Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. with raffle drawings at 3 p.m. Sunday. Call the chamber at 668-2428 for additional information.

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