Although there are those who choose to shun it rather than shuck it, there’s no denying that the oyster has long been celebrated for its aphrodisiac properties. And when the bivalve’s paired with the brackish brew that’s been called “the Irish aphrodisiac” – Guinness – well, what’s not to love?
Whether you’re a fishy aficionado or strictly landlubber’s menu, there’s much to sink your teeth into this Sunday, when the Red Bank Guinness Oyster Festival returns to the White Street municipal parking for for a fifth annual edition. Presented by Red Bank RiverCenter and produced by RUEevents, it’s a seven-hour fleadh of food, music and stout that benefits a pair a pair of regional cancer treatment nonprofits — the Jane H. Booker Cancer Center at Riverview Medical Center, and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of NJ — in addition to helping fund the ongoing events and programs of the RiverCenter partnership.
Running from noon to 7 p,m., the event known familiarly as Oysterfest draws its inspiration from across the pond, where the annual Galway International Oyster Festival offers up its 60th multi-day celebration on September 25-28. Here in the unofficial Sister City of Red Bank, the action takes place once more in the figurative backyard of local landmark the Dublin House — where partners Sean Dunne and Eugene Devlin first got the idea of inviting Guinness to the crimson banks of the Navesink, and where an evening after-party commences when the last festival pint is drained.
Before all that, there will be a pretty eclectic menu of foodstuffs — from Maryland crabcakes, Italian sausage and French pastry, to Chinese delicacies, cheeses and “chowda” — offered by more than 20 borough-based restaurants, caterers, eateries and desserteries. That’s of course in addition to the tons of fresh oysters, clams and lobster rolls served up by Highlands-based seafood purveyor Lusty Lobster (an incomplete list of participating restaurants can be seen here).
The eclecticism extends to the musical menu as well, with two outdoor stages hosting a nonstop soundtrack of returning favorites — including partystarting perennials Brian Kirk & the Jirks, coverband kingpins the Nerds, and the hi-concept droogs of Mashwork Orange — in addition to the supercharged Irish drinking songs of O’Pocketful, headline act the Pat Roddy Band (featuring the Belmar Horns), and not one but two sets by the Pipes and Drums of the Atlantic Watch. Take it here for a detailed schedule and band bios.
Of course, the event won’t be lacking for that sublime stout whose name adorns the banner, with the beerwagons out in full force, and additional fun and flavor promised by a troupe of irish step dancers, and by the strolling prestidigitation of the “Dork of Deception,” Robert Francis.
There’s a scheduled rain date of October 5, but the National Weather service is forecasting ample sunshine and temperatures in the low 80s. Admission is $5 for anyone over 10 years old.