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The original and best, not to mention the biggest local seafood festival, the Charlestown Seafood Festival, kicked off Friday, August 5 at noon to pre-pandemic level crowds and kept the revelry going well into the night at Ninigret Park. Even counting the skipped 2020 season because of COVID-19, this is the 37th year the event has been held.
Let’s dig right in, there’s something for everyone at this festival. For the more discerning palette, there are fresh shellfish, and lobster and scallop rolls available from the Shuckin’ Truck, as well as many other fresh and fried and any manner of fish from many other vendors, traditional festival fare like sausage and pepper sandwiches, and other Italian foods, Greek foods, Shaved Hawaiian ice, not to mention a Gourmet Poutine Hut, and local favorites from vendor’s like Del’s and the Charlestown Rathskeller. Overall, there are more than 30 food vendors, and no one will go home hungry.
Once again, this year, the midway rides and games are provided by Rockwell Entertainment, and it appeared they were doing a brisk business last evening. All three days this year will have a karaoke stage near the entrance to the midway; and as always, the main stage will have bands playing throughout the three days, with only breaks to switch out equipment. Take it to the Bridge highlighted for the early crowd last night from 5:30-7:30 pm and was a huge hit, Dirty Deeds is on from 8-11 pm Saturday night, and on Sunday look for Eight to the Bar from 2:30-4 pm. Also, Saturday at 9 pm will be the fireworks display (Sunday rain date), and Sunday at 11 am starts the Car Show. There is also a section of tents set up for vendors selling their wares, as well as booths for some of the sponsors to highlight their products.
Annually, this event is staged by the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce, and its executive director, Heather Paliotta, said that it was much easier to plan this year than last when they were only notified with three months’ notice that’d be able to hold the festival. “Normally,” she told me, “it takes about 10 months of planning to get all the details arranged.” She’s also grateful for longtime sponsors like Budweiser distributor, McLaughlin & Moran since the chamber runs the beer and wine concession at the event. Local brewer, Whalers, are also on hand this year with a cornhole (court?) where you can win a koozie if you sink a beanbag. New this year also was a sand sculpture from a local artist that drew a lot of selfies and family pictures.
The festival continues all weekend long, Saturday 11am-11pm and Sunday 11am-10pm, general admission is $12, and there is a $25 ride all day deal for the midway. There are ATMs on site but there is a fee involved. The beer and wine tent takes cash only, so keep that in mind, as do some of the vendors.