Did you know that the New York area used to be a major source of the worldwide trade in oysters?
Even the estuaries around New York City supplied oyster eaters with their preferred food. And builders used mortar from crushed oyster shells on more than a few buildings in Manhattan.
Southern Fairfield County, stretched along the northern coast of the Long Island Sound, was no different.
Pollution and dredging for shipping decimated New York City’s oyster trade. Meanwhile, our oyster trade lives-on.
And we celebrate it each year at the Norwalk Oyster Festival.
Celebrate oyster history at the Norwalk Oyster Festival
One of the CT fall festivals that celebrates the unsung virtues of oysters and oystermen is the Norwalk Oyster Festival.
Oystermen are fishers of oysters., by the way.
The more you know.
When to look forward to the Norwalk Oyster Festival
The Festival always happens in mid-September. It begins at 6 pm on Friday until 11 pm, and continues throughout the weekend until 8 pm on Sunday night. This year, the 2023 Norwalk Oyster Festival happens the weekend of September 10, 2023.
What to do at the Norwalk Oyster Festival
Fans of raw oyster slurping or no will relish a day at the Norwalk Oyster Festival.
A few top attractions here include:
New England Village
You’ll find thousands of unique and useful gifts for all tastes, budgets, and ages at the New England Village. Items on sale from over a hundred vendors include:
- Handcrafted jewelry
- Decorative and functional pottery
And woodcrafts such as kid-sized toys, boxes, and furniture, clothing, accessories, wearable art, and much more!
This area of the festival has everything to keep the wee ones entertained:
- Face painting
- Carnival rides
- Live entertainment
- And parades
International Food Court
This area serves a variety of international cuisines, from Mexican to Colombian. Plus the fair staples like funnel cake and cotton candy. This is also the place to find New England specialties, like lobster dinners, Connecticut lobster rolls, and raw oysters galore.
Because, of course.
And the craft beer tent serves more than forty different beers from Connecticut breweries, among others.
Harbor Tour Cruises
And head to the dock at the Veteran’s Park dock for the Oyster Festival Harbor Cruise.
Live entertainment at the Norwalk Oyster Festival
The biggest news is always who they get to come play. The line-up is always fairly eclectic, but you can get a great performer out there at times, some from a while back and others from a more recent decade. You can get a preview of who will be playing here. Anyway, the point is that the musical appearances will be a blast, as will the rest of the Norwalk Oyster Festival.
How to get to the Norwalk Oyster Festival
The festival happens on the 35-acre Veteran’s Park on Seaview Avenue in East Norwalk.
It’s pretty much an easy walk across a bridge from downtown South Norwalk, CT.
Free parking and shuttle services are available from 30 minutes before the festival begins to 30 minutes after it concludes.
The association provides free parking and shuttles services from Calf Pasture Beach and Norwalk Community College from Friday to Sunday.
You’ll also be able to park at Norwalk City Hall and enjoy free shuttle service on Saturday and Sunday.
Paid parking is available at:
- The Webster Street Parking Lot
- The Haviland Street Parking Lot
- The Maritime Aquarium Garage
- And the Iron Works Garage
All these parking lots are within walking distance of the festival.
A little bit about the Norwalk Seaport Association
The Norwalk Oyster Festival raises money for the Norwalk Seaport Association. The Seaport is an all-volunteer organization. It is devoted to maintaining and preserving the Norwalk Harbor Islands. Part of its work includes providing ferry service and tours of the Sheffield island lighthouse.
Even more things to do in Norwalk, before or after the Norwalk Oyster Festival
If slurping oysters isn’t your thing, visiting the islands is a nice way to spend a summer afternoon.
Map design by Stanton House Inn
In fact, visiting the Sheffield Island Lighthouse and enjoying a Thursday clambake, is one of the most unique things to do in Connecticut.
But there are plenty of other fun and unique things to do in Norwalk, CT, after you’re done shucking oysters.
On a lovely September day, a few options for your CT day trip include:
- Visiting one of the best CT beaches at Calf Pasture Beach
- Witnessing the grandeur of the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion museum
- Hanging out with the harbor seals and sea turtles at the Maritime Aquarium
See you there!