HarborFest Celebrates 50 Years Of Fun


The 50th anniversary of Sag HarborFest went off with a bang—many of them to be exact—with the usual crowd favorite, the whaleboat races, dominating the schedule of events last weekend.

The whaleboat race heats, which began on Saturday and started up again on Sunday morning until the field was narrowed down to three crews for the finals, featured teams running the gamut, from Girl Scout troops to local businesses. With only a few crashes and many smiles, the event lived up to its reputation as the biggest draw of the weekend, with hundreds of people lining Long Wharf, Windmill Beach and up the road toward the bridge, waiting to hear John Steinbeck’s old cannon and see who would be first to harpoon the canvas whale waiting in the harbor.

There were three divisions of races this year: A women’s division, a men’s division (women could compete in the men’s division, but not vice-versa), and the annual Firemen’s Cup division.

Winning the women’s division was the team from C’s Home and Office Management, a Sag Harbor business. Teams Joseph Labrozzi Jr., the defending champions, and The Corner Bar, also Sag Harbor businesses, came in second and third, respectively.

For the men’s division, two teams from John K. Ott, an East Hampton cesspool company, met in the finals and were joined by Team Whalers, the defending champions. After a crash between John K. Ott 2 and Team Whalers, John K. Ott 1 took first place, with Team Whalers finishing second.

The Firemen’s Cup, held earlier in the day, was won by the defending champion, the Sag Harbor Fire Department Dive Team.

Throughout the three-day festival, multiple other competitions were held to engage the throngs of people who had descended on the village’s streets.

Saturday featured a corn shucking contest. Taking first place was Colin Hosking, followed by Isabelle Landau and Dillon Hewett. On Sunday, a clam shucking contest was also held, and won by Peter Ambrose.

The annual clam chowder contest was also a big hit among visitors, with two Sag Harbor restaurants—The Dockside and The Dock House—taking top honors. The Dockside won for its white chowder while The Dock House finished first for its red version.

Lastly, besides the more informal tug-of-war and children’s contests, the always entertaining lobster roll eating contest was won by Theo Foscolo, the owner of Miss Lady Root Beer in Wainscott and manager of Rowdy Hall in East Hampton. Mr. Foscolo ate four-and-a-half lobster rolls in five minutes to finish first.

Despite the Sag Harbor Village Board’s decision not to temporarily suspend the village’s open container laws on Long Wharf for the festival, alcohol was still served and seen being consumed, but by all accounts things were kept under control and no incidents were reported related to the event.

In the end, Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce officials and village Mayor Brian Gilbride said the festival accomplished what it was intended to do: Give one final boost to village businesses before summer comes to an end.

“There were very nice crowds,” Mr. Gilbride said. “The businesses couldn’t not do well—we were packed all weekend.”

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