10/21/16 12:38pm
10/21/2016 12:38 PM

Almost 2,500 oysters were consumed this past weekend at the Shelter Island Historical Society’s third annual Oyster Festival. About 250 guests filled up Haven’s Barn on Saturday night to enjoy live music, a raffle, wine and food.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” Nanette Lawrenson, the executive director of the historical society said. (more…)

02/06/16 8:00am
02/06/2016 8:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOMike Osinski at his home in Greenport.

“Greenport, like towns on Staten Island, prospered from the oyster.”

So wrote John Kochiss, author of “Oystering from New York to Boston,” in 1973, pointing back to the oyster’s heyday on eastern Long Island in the early part of the 20th century.

Fast-forward 100 years or so, and things have certainly changed. READ

04/13/15 8:00am
04/13/2015 8:00 AM

As of now in Southold Town, those who raise shellfish on underwater properties could set up a stand to sell their clams or oysters — they would just have to do so out on the water, where they grow them.

And they better hope their customers have masks and flippers handy.

Town officials are looking to change that by changing town code, a move that would put these aquaculturists on the same footing as traditional farmers when it comes to being able to set up farm stands.

(more…)

09/20/14 2:21pm
09/20/2014 2:21 PM
Congressman Tim Bishop cuts the ribbon at Widow's Hole Oysters on Saturday morning. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Congressman Tim Bishop cuts the ribbon at Widow’s Hole Oysters on Saturday morning. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

It was a fitting day for a commercial dock to open up in Greenport, albeit a rare occasion these days.

Widow’s Hole Oysters cut the ribbon at its new 140-foot dock on Saturday morning on the opening morning of the village’s annual Maritime Festival, celebrating the company’s expansion after the project was delayed due to opposition from neighbors and a clerical error by the village.

Mike and Isabel Osinski had proposed the new dock as well as expanding part of their operation in a creek on the west side of their property that abuts Fourth Street homes. The company owners ultimately scaled back the expansion to please neighbors who voiced opposition to the plan. However, plans to build the dock heading into Greenport Harbor, on the east side, were stalled after the Greenport Village board said a clerical error required a second public hearing on the plan.

Eventually, the Osinskis filed suit against the village over an “arbitrary and capricious” amendment it made when issuing the company’s tidal wetlands permit. Last month, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in the company’s favor.

Mr. Osinski had some choice words for those who opposed the expansion, as well as the village, though summed it up on Saturday morning by saying, ”It was an ordeal.”

While the celebration for Widow’s Hole fit in with the theme of the day in Greenport, dockbuilder John Costello of Costello Marine said opening a new commercial dock isn’t something that happens too frequently anymore in the village, which originally grew due to its commercial fishing success in the mid-1800s.

In fact, Mr. Costello — who’s been building docks for 51 years — couldn’t recall the last time he built a working commercial dock in Greenport, noting that most of his work in the village comes through repairs.

“We’ve seen them disappear as more condos took the prime real estate,” he said.

The dock was completed on Thursday and took about five weeks from start to finish.

As supporters of Widow’s Hole hoisted a “Working Waterfront Greenport” sign, Congressman Tim Bishop was on hand to cut the ribbon at the new dock after helping Widow’s Hole secure permits from the Army Corps of Engineers needed to get the expansion up and running.

Mr. Osinski said that in addition to growing in Greenport Harbor, Widow’s Hole is now leasing 10 acres near Gardiner’s Island from Suffolk County, and the added dock space and stronger winches will permit the company to keep up with growing demand for local oysters in New York City.

“I’d like to grow the oysters to three years old, but the demand is too much. Everybody wants them,” he said.

Widow's Hole Oysters' new dock opened up this past week in Greenport. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Widow’s Hole Oysters’ new dock opened up this past week in Greenport. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

08/22/13 10:00am
08/22/2013 10:00 AM
JAY WEBSTER PHOTO | A Mano's chef Tom Schaudel accepts the trophy for Best in Show from chef John Ross as judge Paula Croteau looks on at the 2010 Maritime Festival.

JAY WEBSTER PHOTO | A Mano’s chef Tom Schaudel accepts the trophy for Best in Show from chef John Ross as judge Paula Croteau looks on at the 2010 Maritime Festival.

In what organizers are calling an effort to better reflect Greenport’s legacy as an oystering community, this year’s Maritime Festival will no longer feature the popular chowder contest.

Instead, local oyster farmers will shuck hundreds of oysters for the two-day festival, which people can pair with local wines or beers, according to East End Seaport Museum chairman Ron Breuer.

“At this point the change would be in the best interest of the festival,” he said. “We want to reflect the maritime history of Greenport.”

Mr. Breuer said the museum also wanted to recognize the hardworking oyster farmers who help preserve Greenport’s working waterfront today.

Along with the shucking there will be an exhibit detailing the village’s days as an oystering hub at the turn of the century. At one time, as many as 14 oyster-processing companies operated in the village.

Organizers said the move is not just about historical relevance but also involves the logistics of conducting the long-running chowder contest. Participating restaurants were responsible for preparing up to 25 gallons of chowder each, not to mention delivering and properly heating it during the contest.

“[Chowderfest] was a huge success,” said chef John Ross, a longtime contest judge. “It brought in a lot of revenue, but it was a big commitment for restaurants. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to change.”

The news did come as a surprise to some former contestants.

“We’re bummed,” said Keith Bavaro, owner of SALT Waterfront Bar and Grill on Shelter Island. The restaurant took home the top prize at Chowderfest last year. “We had a couple of recipe ideas we wanted to try this year. We were really looking forward to winning it again, but we’ll try to get involved with whatever they decided to do.”

The theme of this year’s Maritime Festival is “Land & Sea,” with local fisherman, farmers restaurants and vineyards displaying their wares. It’s an important tie-in as Greenport celebrates its 175th anniversary as an incorporated village, Mr. Breuer said.

“Our mission is to showcase the East End and Greenport itself as a waterfront community,” he said.

It is in that spirit that the festival will exclude most out-of-area vendors. This year, organizers tried to restrict the market space primarily to local artisans and craftspeople, Mr. Breuer said.

“We are not looking for the vendor who sells T-shirts and sunglasses,” he said. “We are looking for the vendor who is glass blowing, woodcarving, making handmade jewelry, things that accent what Greenport is about.”

The changes will be seen across the board, including at the annual Friday night reception, which has traditionally been the unofficial opening of the popular festival. The reception, now titled “A Taste of Greenport,” will feature signature dishes from various area restaurants, local wines and craft beers.

Also new this year are children’s shows, a pie-baking competition and the “merfolk contest,” a costume competition in which children ages 5-12 will dress up as mermaids or Poseidon for the annual parade. Winners will be chosen, but the contest will also serve as an educational opportunity.

“We’re going to teach the kids the difference between facts and fantasies,” he said. “It’s really a kickoff of the whole idea of mermaids in Greenport. In the future you will see a lot of mermaids and oysters at the festival.”

The 24th annual Maritime Festival is scheduled for Sept. 21 and 22, with the opening reception the evening of Sept. 20.

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