Summer is over, which means two things to residents of Sag Harbor—one, you can finally find parking on Main Street; and two, it’s time for Harborfest! Part block party, part cultural celebration, with a healthy dollop of fine Sag Harbor eats, Harborfest has been a tradition for more than 50 years. For locals, it’s a chance to come up for air after a hectic, work-filled summer and party a little. For visitors, it’s just another great weekend out east. This year, East Enders and visitors alike can spend the weekend of September 12-14 enjoying the food, fun, history and music of the former whaling village.
Organizer and Chamber of Commerce member Alan Fruitstone promises “each year, we are expanding.” There will be more activities for revelers of all ages to enjoy, kicking off with a Friday night party at the Whaling Museum. Those who like to get a jump start on their Harborfest fun will enjoy what the Whaling Museum is calling A Whale of a Party. Half of the proceeds will go toward the museum’s restoration efforts, and in return, Harborfest fans will enjoy music by DJ Carlos Lama and catering by Cromer’s, including their fabulous fried chicken, which may be the real reason Cromer’s parking lot had to be enlarged this past summer—to accommodate the hordes of frenzied fried chicken fans.
Sag Harbor history buffs can enjoy a walking tour of all the Sag Harbor historical sights, including the Old Whalers Church, with its recently restored mural behind the altar, the Eastville Community Historical Museum, celebrating the African-American community in Sag Harbor, and Temple Adas Israel, the oldest synagogue on Long Island.
If history gives you uncomfortable flashbacks to your 10th grade final exam, you can keep busy watching the whale boat races, sampling clam chowder, getting your face painted or listening to traditional seafaring songs. Those who find shopping a competitive sport will be very happy hunting and gathering at the sidewalk sales throughout the village.
One welcome improvement from previous years is a more efficient parking system. There will be plenty of parking at Havens Beach, with shuttle buses ferrying people to the famous Sag Harbor Farmers Market and then onto various other points of interest. Fruitstone also points out that the arts and crafts vendors have been relocated from the Wharf to Marine Park, easing traffic jams many experienced last year, as people tried to navigate food carts and jewelry booths on the Wharf.
Not everything from previous Harborfests needed to be improved, however. The Taste of Sag Harbor will still be as delectable as ever, serving up nibbles to sustain you through a hard day of shopping and seeing the sights. For those who prefer their food with a competitive edge, there will be a clam shucking contest and a corn shucking contest.
Kids can enjoy face-painting, clowns and that perennial favorite, a bouncy castle. Fruitstone is pleased that a dunking seat will be making its maiden appearance. When asked about the identity of the dunkee, Fruitstone remarked that the dunkee was TBD, although he suspected some might enjoy dunking an ex-wife or ex-husband.
Music has always been a big part of Harborfest. On Saturday night, Marine Park will play host to a Beach Blast concert organized by Joe Lauro, event maven and bassist with the Hoodoo Loungers, veteran organizer of many a Shelter Island Beach Blast. If a night out isn’t complete without some laughs, you can go from Beach Blast to Bay Street Theater and enjoy Harborfest All-Star Comedy, a night with four comics fresh from stints on MTV and Showtime, hosted by Joseph Vecsey of The Call Back podcast.
If all that music, shopping, eating, drinking, and local history leave you wanting just a little something more, you can find yourself a brand spanking new best friend—ARF, the Southampton Animal Shelter and the Little Shelter from Huntington will all be on hand to help you find love on a leash.
So, park your car at Havens Beach, hop the handy shuttle, or just stroll the streets, but don’t miss Harborfest.
Harborfest will be held September 12–14 throughout Sag Harbor. Click here for the full schedule.