MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The 49th annual Milford Oyster Festival starts on Saturday!
The festival follows concerns about severe Vibrio infections contracted by Connecticut residents who ate raw shellfish or were exposed to brackish or salt water in recent weeks.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health said three cases have been reported since July 1, and those greatest at risk are the elderly or people with weakened immune systems. Two people have died from Vibrio infections in Connecticut.
However, as Milford prepares for its Oyster Festival officials say there should be no concern during the annual festival.
At Friday’s “Oyster Eve” kick-off event, people said they were not worried about the recent health warnings.
“I have absolutely no concerns whatsoever,” Jason McCoy of West Haven said. “I really don’t.”
“I just finished a dozen oysters, and they were sweet and delicious,” Patricia Doheny of Milford said.
Saturday’s 49th annual event is expected to draw tens of thousands of people and shuck 30,000 locally sourced oysters.
The festival’s president, Jay Pinto, says that between live music, food trucks, vendors and activities, there’s plenty for everyone.
“It’s about Milford, it’s the oysters, and it’s about bringing everybody together to showcase what a beautiful town that we have,” Pinto said.
Organizers say the festival raises more than $100,000 for about 70 different nonprofits and civic associations, including the Elks Lodge, the United Way, Little League baseball and the Boys & Girls Club of Milford.
“Without this huge event, we wouldn’t be able to raise this money that’s so important to helping so many different community members,” said Megan Altomare, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Milford.
Altomare says they serve 1,200 kids in Milford. The money they raise at the festival will go to offering programs, including a trip for their high school leadership group.
“With the profits from there, we’re able to send our kids on a national keystone conference, where a lot of kids have their first opportunity to travel and attend a leadership conference at the same time,” Altomare said.
The Oyster Festival is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. around Fowler Field and the Milford Green.