Harborfest sees record attendance

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Harborfest sees record attendance
The Alan Brown Blues Band performing at last year's Harborfest in Port Washington. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Despite cool temperatures and gray skies that threatened to rain but never did, the 28th annual Harborfest in Port Washington on Sunday was as well attended as any edition of the festival.

“The craft fair, children’s fun park, food court, model boat regatta and all the other activities ended up having record crowds,” said Port Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bobbie Polay, who organized the event. “It was one of the most successful HarborFests ever.”

Her estimate for total attendance was about 12,000 to 13,000 people who came from the North Shore and Queens to eat, shop and watch  performances.

“Every year it gets more and more popular, and I really look forward to it,” Polay said. “You get to see your neighbors and meet people coming from other parts of Long Island.”

The festival kicked off with the model boat regatta at Baxter’s Pond, where children raced handmade sailboats that they had created with recycled material like juice cartons.

The festival stretched from the Town Dock all the way up Main Street.

On the dock there was food provided by local restaurants such as Ayhan’s Shish Kabob, the Wild Goose and Schmear, while local organizations like Port Youth Activities and the Manhasset Bay Sportsmen’s Clubs grilled burgers and handed out “pickles on a stick.” At the south end of the dock was a children’s area, featuring crafts, games, a dunk tank and a miniature train to ride.

The dock also hosted performances throughout the day, both at the tugboat and on the “Family Fun” stage. At the red tugboat located at the dock’s entrance, the STOUT Nautical Singers sang shanties throughout the day and the Alan Brown Blues Band performed classic rock standards. On the “Family Fun” stage, Port children played music, sang and danced from the morning until the late afternoon.

For those looking to get away from the crowds, tours via water taxi and the North Fork Trolley allowed visitors to see even more of Port Washington.

“For people who don’t own a boat and don’t get a chance to go out on the bay, it gives them that opportunity,” Polay said.

There were also dozens of vendors, a majority of them lined along Main Street to sell everything from scented candles to dog bandanas.

One vendor was Steve Vallone, who runs Steve’s Wooden Creations. Vallone said he had been selling his woodcuts of signs and sports logos at Harborfest for the last five years.

“It is run fantastically, I mean just look at all the people here,” he said. “I have a lot of friends who come in from all over for this.”

He said that he has talked other vendors into coming to Port for Harborfest.

That variety has, in turn, helped to draw even more attendees to the festival. Debrah Rybecky of Port said the vendors are her favorite part of Harbofest.

“These little things they sell, they’re all handmade and nice,” she said.

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