Milford Oyster Festival set to return in August

MILFORD — After a one-year hiatus, the Milford Oyster Festival is scheduled to return on Saturday, Aug. 21.

“We wanted to do something. Of course, people love it so much, and it’s such a big draw for the community,” said Michele DiBella, publicity chair for the festival. “We give back to different non-profit organizations in town, and we were really hoping that we were able to have the festival this year.”

DiBella said when the committee decided not to have the festival last year, many people were not happy about it, but to the committee, the public's safety came first.

The 47th Annual Milford Oyster Festival is taking place Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, and Oyster Eve, the traditional pre-event party for the festival, will occur on Friday, Aug. 20, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“Our goal is to officially announce that we are moving forward with the festival this year, subject to state and local guidelines. We are looking forward to getting back to great Milford tradition,” said Ila Tokarz, president of the festival.

Milford Mayor Ben Blake said his favorite event is the Mayor’s Cup canoe, kayak, outrigger and stand-up paddleboard race. He said the Oyster Festival, a summer tradition since 1975, celebrates the important history the oyster industry has had in the city.

DiBella said the committee had only recently made the decision to hold the festival this year. The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines in the state ended up being one of the deciding factors, she said.

“The decision to have the festival was decided fairly recently,” said DiBella. “The fact that people are getting vaccinated and the fact that the state is opening up more is a big plus.”

The festival board had been meeting every month to see what the restrictions were, and see if it would be possible to have the festival, she said. Members also talked to different festival committees to get feedback.

This year’s festival will have many of the areas that festival-goers look forward to every year, including arts and crafts on the Milford Green and on Main Street, a non-profit area, car show, canoe and kayak races, food and entertainment.

DiBella said the committee was not ready to announce a headlining music act or entertainment schedule because the group is still waiting to see if there will be any event and festival restrictions. Further updates will be posted on the fetival website, milfordoysterfestival.com and the Milford Oyster Festival Facebook page.