NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk is gearing up for the annual Oyster Festival, which starts this Friday and features three days of music, rides, games and more in one of the biggest events held in Fairfield County.
The Norwalk Seaport Association, which hosts the event, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday with elected officials and lead sponsor First County Bank to kick off the annual event. The 37th Oyster Festival begins Friday at 6 p.m. at Veterans Park, and continues from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
"There will be constant family entertainment," said Mike Reilly, chairman of the Norwalk Oyster Festival. Among the new additions this year are the Nerveless Nocks Motorcycle Thrill Show, which is one of the largest motorcycle shows in the world and dates to the 1840s. The Chevy Kids' Cove Theater will also have kids' entertainment all weekend, including the Cirque de la Oyster, featuring Chinese acrobats.
Reilly also highlighted the musical performances on the main stage. The entertainment kicks off Friday night with a performance by Scott Stapp, who will be playing hits from the band Creed. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will be the headline act Saturday night, and Sunday will feature performances by the U.S. Army Volunteer Band and Tito Puente Jr.
The annual Oyster Festival is the result of efforts by 1,200 volunteers who work together to make the event a success.
"We start planning this festival the day after the other one ends," Reilly said.
Though one of the rides malfunctioned last year, injuring 13 people, Reilly said there are no worries this year.
"Safety is the No. 1 concern of the Seaport. The safety of our guests is very, very important. Everything is inspected by the state."
"This is one of the economic drivers for the city of Norwalk, because people come from all over the Tri-State area to attend the Oyster Festival," said Mayor Harry Rilling. "They attend the oyster festival, then they go out to a restaurant, they shop at some of our stores, then they stay at some of our hotel accommodations."
In addition to the event being a lot of fun, the money raised also goes back to the community through different civic organizations, Rilling said.
"It really benefits the city of Norwalk. And years ago it started to put Norwalk back on the map, because it's the biggest Oyster Festival in the Tri-State area, and it gets bigger and better every year."