By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 12, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
HAMPTON -- An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people descended upon Hampton Beach this past weekend, wrapping up summer at the 17th annual Seafood Festival.
Perfect weather aided the three-day festival hosted by the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce.
"Friday and Saturday (were) record days," said BJ "Doc" Noel, chamber president. "Sunday was a little bit off because of the cooler weather, but it was great day for the chowder vendors."
Seacoast Park Supervisor Brian Warburton estimated the attendance at more than 100,000 people. Warburton said the first night of the festival, which is free, is beginning to attract a larger crowd.
Organizers were also happy with Saturday, which avoided foul weather that struck areas to the north and south in the evening.
"We had to set fireworks off a little early on Saturday because we worried about the storm," Noel said. "It was amazing because the storm split and hit New Castle and Newburyport (Mass.), but missed us completely."
[Photo by Andrew Moore]
This was the third year the chamber charged an entrance fee for the festival on Saturday and Sunday, but officials said it was too soon to find out how much revenue was generated.
Noel said he received no complaints on comment cards about the $5 admission fee.
"I'm sure there were some naysayers who were upset, but they didn't talk to us," he said.
Jude Dionne, chairwoman of the event, said 50 food vendors, 83 crafters and 30 corporate sponsors helped make the festival a success.
Noel said they wouldn't have been able to host such a festival without all the volunteers and cooperation from the state.
"The 550 volunteers helped to make the festival what it is," Noel said.
"What amazes me most about the festival is all of the volunteers from the Special Olympics to the Rotary, who collects the admissions, to everyone who spends countless hours setting it all up," Warburton said.
FESTIVAL WINNERSBest Seafood: Cascade Seaside Restaurant & Deck
Best Booth: La Bec Rouge Restaurant
Best Cuisine: Ronaldo's Restaurant
Best Chowder/Lobster Stew: Stacey Janes and Kelley's Row
Best Lobster: Rye Harbor Lobster Pound
Best Non-Seafood: Wally's Pub
Best Dessert: McGuirk's Ocean View
Best Spirit: North Hampton Firefighters
Best All Around Presentation: Seacoast DARE
Best Lemonade: Widow Fletchers Tavern
MYTV's People's Choice Award: Whale's Tale