It was all about the oysters.
There was oyster shucking.
There was an oyster eating contest.
There were people trying oysters for the first time and some people simply trying to satiate their appetite for a favorite seafood at this year’s Annual Milford Oyster Festival.
Attendance looked to be at all time high for the event, especially in the afternoon when the lead band, Blues Traveler, was preparing to take the stage.
Foot traffic over the Hotchkiss Bridge at Milford Harbor actually came to a halt at times, resembling I-95 at rush hour, because of the crowds passing over it.
Some people came for the food; others for the myriad of other event offerings.
“I like the crafts, and the music, and of course the food is excellent,” said resident Trish Fike, who attends the oyster festival every year.
Amanda Salsman was walking down Broad Street about 1 p.m. because she didn’t have to be at work until 4 p.m. The festival seemed the ideal way to spend her free time Saturday. She said she didn’t really stop in for the food or the music, but rather to meet up with friends and spend some time with them.
Oyster Festival sounds were everywhere: “Three balls for a a dollar,” firefighters called out near the dunk tank, where they were raising money for the Sandy Ground Playground fund.
Roger King was on the dunk tank seat in the afternoon, his voice booming enticements to players. “Let’s see what you’ve got!” he yelled, before issuing a high pitched laugh that got the crowd going.
“He’s the best,” said Firefighter Scott Tummins, praising King for providing some entertainment and pulling in ball throwers. “He’s got the quick wit and the lovable laugh.”
“Water, water,” was also a common refrain in downtown Milford as various groups along the green sold water to raise money for non-profit groups.
Near the library, a woman touted a production of Godspell, scheduled for this past weekend at Jonathan Law High School and staged by the Blockhead Productions and the Milford Recreation Department.
Near the Coast Guard building, members of the Milford Historical Society reenacted the founding of Milford. Chuck Roy, a local builder, was portraying Deacon George Clark as he helped recreate the construction of the first meeting house in Milford.
Recalling Milford’s history, Roy explained that Clark traveled to Milford with a large group of people from the New Haven colony, carrying pre-cut and pre-notched lumber to build the meeting house.
“Pretty much, it was the first modular home,” Roy said with a laugh.
Mayor Ben Blake got up early to compete in the canoe and kayak race with friends, and later he joined a group of people for an annual oyster eating contest at Fowler Field at 2 p.m.
“We have fantastic weather, and that brought out a big crowd,” Blake said, scanning the packed field with a smile. “It usually peaks around 3, and it’s pretty full already.
Josh Castle and his friends Renee Sheffield and Dave Brancati, who live in New Haven and Hamden, were at the back of a long line of people waiting to buy oysters Saturday afternoon. He said they didn’t mind being about 50th in line because they were really looking forward to oysters.
The area inside and outside the main stage filled with so many people around 4 p.m. that walking was often shoulder to shoulder. Blues Traveler wrapped up the festival entertainment early in the evening with favorite tunes that had a jam-packed field alive with people dancing, mingling and enjoying the day.