Montauk, known for its abundance of fresh fish, lobster and shellfish, will finally have a festival celebrating its maritime bounty. The first-ever Montauk Seafood Festival will be held the weekend of September 21, and will be one of many to come, according to the festival’s director, Laura Mastandrea.
The product of some brainstorming by members of the Montauk Friends of Erin and the Kiwanis Club of East Hampton, the festival will offer a smörgåsbord of seafood specialties from several local restaurants, live music, and fishing-inspired activities for adults and children alike. For a little fishing action, kids can participate in a snapper derby, goldfish racing or make fish prints.
“To have this kind of festival is certainly due,” Ms. Mastandrea said. “It’s funny that Montauk is the world’s fishing capital and we don’t have a seafood festival.”
According to Ms. Mastandrea, a little partying for the right cause would not only help bring attention to Montauk’s rich resource but would help extend the summer season a bit into September.
“It’ll give another shot in the arm as far as hotels and shops that are around,” she said. “It’s exciting on so many different fronts. It’s another reason to come to Montauk, as if you didn’t have enough.”
Seafood lovers will be privy to lobster rolls, seafood crepes and wontons, Ahi tuna sliders, sushi, ceviche, crab cakes and fish tacos, among other dishes. Typical barbecue food—hamburgers and hot dogs—will also be available.
Those who want to brush up on their angling skills will have a chance to learn from the best. A “Fishing Legends Q&A” will begin at the top of each hour so that fishermen of all skill levels can improve their chances of the perfect catch. Carl Darenberg III, the owner of the Montauk Marine Basin where the event will be held, said he plans to discuss the history of fishing in Montauk.
Mr. Darenberg’s family has owned and operated the marina and tackle shop on West Lake Drive for almost 60 years. Mr. Darenberg said the marina has been a part of his life since he was a little boy and he has been fishing for almost 50 years.
With full knowledge of the fishing industry and goings-on at the harbor, Mr. Darenberg said the festival couldn’t be a better idea.
“People usually take a right-hand turn when coming into Montauk and go to the beach,” he said on Monday. “The harbor needs a bit of help now and then. The festival will make people aware there is a harbor down here.”
He added that fewer and fewer people fish nowadays and the industry is less than it was, especially during the fishing boom that began in the 1950s.
“Quite frankly, the industry is getting weaker,” he said. “People don’t want to fish, they want to party in Montauk. Montauk Harbor needs something like this to attract people down here to show what Montauk is all about.”
The proceeds made from the restaurants and companies—360 East, Sloppy Tuna, Montauk Pearls, Atlantic Terrace Cafe, Hampton Seafood Co., Andrra, Sammy’s, Zakura, Gurney’s Inn, East by Northeast, the Montauk Brewing Co., Pindar and Duckwalk vineyards, Lynn’s Hula Hut and My Earth Water—will go directly back to the Montauk Friends of Erin and the Kiwanis Club of East Hampton, Ms. Mastandrea said. The Montauk Sun, Despatch Self Storage and My Earth Water are sponsors of the event.
With much support from the community, according to Ms. Mastandrea, the festival is bringing everyone together to celebrate Montauk.
One thing is undeniable in Mr. Darenberg’s eyes—Montauk certainly is the fishing capital of the world and will continue to be if efforts like the festival ensue.
“Montauk is located 120 miles into the Atlantic Ocean,” he said. “People come to Montauk to catch the big ones. The big ones are here.”
The festival, which is free to attend, will take place Saturday and Sunday, September 21 and 22, from noon to 5 p.m. each day. The Montauk Marine Basin is located at 426 West Lake Drive in Montauk.
For more information, call (516) 660-0100, or visit montaukseafoodfestival.com