The Guinness Oyster Festival returns to Red Bank for the third straight year today, with the promise of new music, more seafood options and expected crowds of as many as 15,000 people.
The event was launched two years ago by Red Bank RiverCenter as a way to showcase area businesses and restaurants, and of course oysters, too.
A throwback to historic festivals that annually celebrated the beginning of the oyster season, the Red Bank version was destined to become an annual event after it attracted an estimated crowd of 10,000 last year.
Since it’s launch, the Oyster Festival has been a highlight on Red Bank’s calendar.
“It’s very much looked forward to by many people here,” RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams said. “We hear from a lot of people about how great Oysterfest is and how much they look forward to it.
“I think Guinness is a big part of it, too.”
Adams said there have been some tweaks in the planning for this year’s event. In an effort to draw a more age-diverse crowd the festival will feature a wide variety of musical acts, including bands meant to appeal to younger audiences.
And then there are the oysters. While oysters and Guinness have been featured at the event, the seafood component of the Oyster Festival has been lacking a bit over the first two years. This time, Adams said RiverCenter has reached out to local restaurants to encourage them to create more oyster and seafood dishes this time around.
“We like to change up the entertainment so it’s not the same festival each year, and we’ve asked the restaurants to change thins up,” she said. “I think people, in general, like something to do on a weekend day in the fall. It’s just a way to enjoy some great live music, great bands and great food.”
The event is being held in the White Street parking lot from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 23 with a rain date of Sept. 30. Admission is $5 for those over 13. Proceeds from the event benefit the Booker Cancer Center and Riverview Medical Center, the Cancer Institute of NJ, and RiverCenter.
For more information about the festival, including a musical lineup, visit Rue Events at www.rueevents.com.