GUINNESS TO SHUCK UP RED BANK

white-st-lotThe White Street municipal parking lot will be the site of Red Bank’s first Guinness oyster festival in September. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It looks like downtown Red Bank will ring in the fall season by playing host to a daylong ragbag of an aphrodisiacal and Irish bent.

Mirroring the annual oyster festival across the pond, in Galway, Ireland, and other major cities, Red Bank is bringing in brewery giant Guinness to sponsor a spree of beer (ahem, ale), food and music dubbed the Only One Red Bank Guinness Oyster Festival on Sunday, September 26.

It’s scheduled to take place from noon to 6p in the White Street municipal parking lot, says Nancy Adams, executive director of RiverCenter, which is coordinating the event. The independent agency is waiting on permission from the borough special events committee — the council OK’d it last month — and is scouting vendors and entertainment to fill out the roster.

At this point in the planning, though, Adams says there will be a handful of bands playing on two stages, Guinness stands set up at each end of the parking lot and likely some children’s attractions. Adams said a small planning committee is looking at having a main stage at the eastern end of the parking lot for bands, most likely ones that will keep with the day’s theme.

“It’ll be a mix, but there will definitely be an Irish rock presence,” she said.

A second stage is planned at the west end of the area for other performers. Adams said StreetLife acts and some sort of children’s entertainment will go on that stage, but “none of it’s confirmed yet.”

Guinness and oysters, of course, will be ubiquitous, with barkeeps pouring the draught and servers shucking the bivalves. But Adams is hoping that the festival will contain heavy doses of local flavor, too. RiverCenter members and employees are meeting with borough restaurants next week to talk about logistics of the event, she said.

“Our goal is to have the food vendors be Red Bank restaurants,” Adams said. “We would rather not have any other outsiders aside from the oyster vendors, but that depends on the restaurants’ willingness and ability to do it.”

Adams is hopeful that the festival can draw the types of crowds Asbury Park sees each year at its annual celebration — which occurs two weeks prior to Red Bank’s — but isn’t trying to create a competition.

“There’s plenty of people around to go to all the festivals,” she said. “I hope we get 10,000 people. I have no idea whether or not we’ll come close. It’s a first-time event, so it’s hard to tell what kind of impact it’ll have.”

It appears that adults will pay $5 to get into the lot (which will be fenced off), then purchase drink tickets. Adams isn’t sure what the charge will be for children, if any.

Proceeds from the festival will go towards RiverCenter’s advertising and marketing campaign, Riverview Medical Center‘s cancer clinic and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.