Crustacean-craving guests to claw way onto Hampton BeachBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent September 06. 2017 1:09PM
If you go...WHAT: Hampton Beach Seafood festival
WHEN: 4 to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Ocean Boulevard at center beach
COST: $5 on Friday, $10 on Saturday and $8 on Sunday; free for children under 12
HAMPTON — Seafood lovers, rejoice! An estimated 125,000 crustacean-craving guests are expected to pack Hampton Beach this weekend for the 2017 Hampton Beach Seafood Festival.
Billed as New Hampshire’s largest seaside festival, the 28th annual event will bring together about 50 local and regional seafood vendors to offer a taste of their favorite dishes, with everything from lobster rolls and shrimp to clams fried, steamed or in chowder.
While many will spend their time filling up on food, festival-goers also will be treated to a highly anticipated lobster roll-eating competition, entertainment, culinary demonstrations, and some 60 crafters displaying works.
“We consider ourselves (to be) one of the top beaches in the country. (This) event ... brings thousands of people to Hampton Beach not only to enjoy the festival but to be on a beautiful beach and beautiful boardwalk with many restaurants, hotels and retail stores,” said John Nyhan, festival chairperson.
The festival, which opens Friday at 4 p.m. and runs until 6 p.m. Sunday, is organized by the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce with OneMain Financial as the presenting sponsor.
The focus is on seafood, but the festival offers other treats, including steak tips, blooming onions and an assortment of desserts.
Nyhan said the festival has been a way to give local businesses a chance to stay open a little longer, unlike tourist communities that shut down after Labor Day.
“This type of event assists them in extending our summer,” he said.
Nyhan, who is in his first year chairing the event, said the lobster roll-eating competition, to be held Saturday at 2 p.m., is always a big hit. The event will feature world-renowned competitors shoving as many lobster rolls as possible into their mouths over the course of several minutes as the crowd around the Seashell Stage cheers them on.
The last fireworks display of the summer at the beach will be held Saturday around 8:15 p.m.
Culinary demonstrations by eight chefs from around New England are planned throughout the weekend as well.
Nyhan said the culinary demonstration area has been expanded this year due to high demand.
The festival is held rain or shine, but some activities could be impacted if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
Skydivers are expected to wow the crowd when they drop down onto Hampton Beach on Sunday at 5 p.m., but that’s weather permitting.
The festival has changed the pickup location for its free transportation offered to disabled guests. Nyhan said a shuttle used to pick them up and transport them to the festival from the south beach area, but this year transportation will be offered at the Hampton Town Hall, 100 Winnacunnet Road. Nyhan said the new location is more accessible and convenient.
First Student also offers free parking and shuttle service to the festival for other guests from various in-town satellite parking lots.
Nyhan said he’s been working to get more community groups involved in this year’s festival. Among those involved this year are the Hampton Rotary Club, the Knights of Columbus, and Winnacunnet High School.
The festival is a big undertaking for those who plan and work it through the weekend.
As many as 50 workers and more than 400 volunteers, some of whom come from as far away as New York and New Jersey, will assist with this year’s festival.