Milford Oyster Festival

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Milford Oyster Festival
Oyster Festival1.JPG
2006 Milford Oyster Festival Banner
Genrecultural festival
Date(s)Third Saturday in August
Begins10:00 A.M. EDT (UTC-4)
Ends6:00 P.M. EDT
Location(s)Milford, Connecticut, USA
Years active43
InauguratedSaturday, August 23, 1975
Most recentSaturday, August 18, 2018
Participants50,000-60,000 annual approx.
Next - Saturday, August 17, 2019

Milford Oyster Festival, sometimes shortened to "Oysterfest," is an annual cultural festival held on the third Saturday of August throughout the city of Milford, Connecticut. As a major tourist attraction, billed as the largest one-day festival in the New England region[1] and listed among the top 10 annual events in Connecticut,[2] the Oyster Festival draws over 50,000 attendees each year.[3][4] It is planned by the non-profit organization Annual Milford Oyster Festival, inc. (AMOF), largely run by volunteers.

The festival hosts a wide variety of activities for all ages, including arts, crafts, music, sports, amusement rides, food, and oyster shucking.[5][6][7]


Oyster Huts on Milford Point a sketch by John Warner Barber for his Historical Collections of Connecticut (1836).

The first Milford Oyster Festival was held on the Milford Green and Fowler Field on August 23, 1975.[8] Major founders of the oysterfest include Diano Nytko, first chairperson of the Milford Chamber of Commerce,[9][10] and Robert N. Cooke, for whom the Bob Cooke Skin Cancer Foundation was named.[11]

Since then the oyster festival has become firmly established as an annual Milford tradition, held rain or shine.[12][13] In the past, the oysterfest was held over two days, but that proved to be too much a burden on the organizers.[14]

While initially established as an oyster festival, the presence of actual oysters gradually faded after some time and were absent for many years outside of the festival's name.[14] In 2005, oysters returned to the festival, provided by the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association.[15] They have been there ever since.

Starting in 2009, Milford began requiring that the non-profit AMOF reimburse the city, which spends $30,000-50,000 to host the festival each year. As a result of this decision, AMOF could no longer allow other local non-profits to sell beer at the event, as it is a major source of income for many of the non-profits. This led Alderman Ben Blake to express concern that the festival may "lose its local flavor" as "nonprofit groups [are driven] out of the Oyster Festival food court."[16]

Musical acts[edit]

Every festival also includes a headliner band.[17]

Headliner by year[edit]


Many local and regional businesses, non-profits, and governmental groups have sponsored the event, including NBC Universal, TD Bank, and Whole Foods Market.[4]

Money raised by AMOF during the festival has been donated for charitable purposes. In 2010, the major fundraiser of the festival was for Gulf coast fishing communities, whose oyster industries were struggling after being shut down by the BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[29]

Notable participants[edit]

Linda McMahon takes a moment to grill some chicken with local Republican activists while on the campaign trail at the 2010 festival.
  • Jodi Rell, the 72nd and current governor of Connecticut, attended the 2008 festival.[30]
  • Linda McMahon, a Republican politician, plunged a firefighter in a dunk tank in the "dunk your favorite firefighter" festival activity during her 2010 campaign for a seat in the US Senate for Connecticut.[31]
  • John A. Smith, a world-traveling sailor and writer, wrote, "It's kind of sad to hear that none of the oysters at the recent 'Oyster Festival' were from local waters and that most of the oyster boats are now in museums," in his book of travels Little Fish Big Pond while talking about Milford as his home town.[32]

Surrounding events[edit]

On the Friday evening before the oysterfest, there is a surrounding event called "Oyster Eve," which includes activities such as dancing, dining, and a 90-minute cruise on a 80-foot-long (24 m) schooner around the Long Island Sound.[4] Around 1,500 people came to downtown Milford for Oyster Eve in 2010.[13]

In 2010, the Daniel Street nightclub began hosting what they dubbed the "1st Annual Oyster Festival After Party" on the evening after the main events close.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brooks, Patricia and Lester Brooks. Food Lovers' Guide to Connecticut. Globe Pequot, 2007. ISBN 0-7627-4170-8, ISBN 978-0-7627-4170-0
  2. ^ Top 10 Events in Connecticut. Top Events USA.
  3. ^ McCready, Brian. "Come out of that shell for Milford Oyster Festival; entertainment for the whole family." New Haven Register. Friday, August 20, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Annual Milford Oyster Festival Official Website
  5. ^ a b "Milford Oyster Festival: Soul Asylum tops bill at annual event." Connecticut Post. Tuesday, August 17, 2010.
  6. ^ Juliano, Frank. "Oysters take center stage at Milford festival." Connecticut Post. Saturday, August 21, 2010
  7. ^ Milford Chamber of Commerce - Tourism and Recreation Archived 2010-08-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Albright, John B. "Notes: Bargains in U.S. For Foreign Tourists; Notes: Skytrain Runs Into Snag." The New York Times. August 10, 1975.
  9. ^ Milford Chamber Through the Years, 1954-2004 Archived 2010-12-02 at the Wayback Machine. Milford Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
  10. ^
  11. ^ ROBERT N. COOKE Archived 2011-07-15 at the Wayback Machine. Bob Cooke Skin Cancer Foundation, Inc.
  12. ^ "Milford Oyster Festival 2010." Daily Postal. August 21, 2010
  13. ^ a b Misur, Susan. "Annual Oyster Festival draws thousands in Milford Archived 2012-03-06 at the Wayback Machine.." New Haven Register. Sunday, August 22, 2010
  14. ^ a b Guerrera, Lori A. "32nd Annual Milford Oyster Festival Saturday, Aug. 19, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.[permanent dead link]." Milford Weekly. August 17, 2006.
  15. ^ "Successful Milford Oyster Festival 2006." ECSGA Newsletter- Volume 2:06. November 30, 2006.
  16. ^ Tinley, James. "Oyster festival will have only 1 beer vendor." New Haven Register. Friday, April 9, 2010.
  17. ^[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Dion, Jill K. (May 17, 2012). "Kansas headlines this year's Oyster Fest". Milford Mirror. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  22. ^ The Smithereens Announce More Tour Dates!. Marketwire . Mar. 12, 2007 07:22 PM
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-17. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
  28. ^ 1999 Milford Oyster Festival Official Program Guide. Milford Oyster Festival Committee. August 21, 1999. Unnumbered page 16.
  29. ^ Yannetti, Terri. "Oyster Festival to aid Gulf Coast oyster industry." Milford-Orange Bulletin. Wednesday, August 18, 2010.
  30. ^ Gov. Rell with Nanci Seltzer at the Milford Oyster Festival YouTube. August 25, 2008
  31. ^ "Behind the Scenes on the Campaign Trail with Linda McMahon." Fox News. Tuesday, August 24, 2010.
  32. ^ Smith, John A. Little Fish Big Pond. iUniverse, 2003. ISBN 0-595-26361-5. Page 22.
  33. ^ Frank Viele & the Manhattan Project - 1st Annual Oyster Festival After Party

External links[edit]