SECOND FOOD FEST ADDED FOR 2012

oysterfest-2011Despite a one-week rain delay, the 2011 edition of the Oysterfest was packed most of the day. Proceeds help pay for downtown holiday lights, seen below being installed on Broad Street Thursday. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

stringerStart that diet or get ready to loosen your belt some more, because here comes another heaping plateful.

Red Bank RiverCenter, having pulled off two annual Guinness Oyster Festivals that each drew tens of thousands of visitors downtown, plans to add an International Food Festival to the same location – the White Street municipal parking lot – next spring.

The tentative date for the one-day event is Saturday, May 6, and as with Oysterfest, the event will serve as a showcase for Red Bank restaurants, says RiverCenter executive director Nancy Adams.

“It’s something we’re still fleshing out,” Adams tells redbankgreen. But the event was created in response to a request by Mayor Pasquale Menna for a Feast of San Gennaro-type ethnic food festival, as well as interest among downtown merchants and restaurateurs for a spring counterpart to the Oysterfest, held in early autumn, she said.

Like the Oysterfests, this one will be organized in conjunction with event planner Ruthanne Harrison of Rue Events, who understands the “local vendors first” that the town’s merchants have insisted on, Adams said.

Like the date, other key details have yet to be nailed down, including the main wine-or-beer vendor. For Oysterfest, it’s been Guinness both years.

Also to be decided: where the profits will go. The two Oysterfests have generated a combined $100,000, with about half that amount being donated to charity and the rest set aside to pay for holiday decorations throughout the Special Improvement District that RiverCenter manages on both sides of town, according to Adams.

The decorations cost about $50,000 a year, none of which is borne by resident taxpayers, Adams notes.

Both the borough council and the special events committee have signed off on the new food fest.