HAMPTON — As the 30th annual Hampton Beach Seafood Festival opened Friday afternoon, Joe Stellato and his crew were putting out coconut shrimp skewers and mixing up a huge vat of jambalaya on the Seashore Seafood Raw Bar table topped with lobsters, fried cod, jumbo crabcakes and ears of corn.
Stellato said this is his team’s first year at Hampton Beach, but the group travels to about 30 festivals a year and their jambalaya is always popular.
Nearby, Sherri and Dave Trombley, of Killington, Vt., were enjoying bread bowls. She had the lobster bisque and he had corn chowder.
“It’s great; it’s really awesome,” Sherri Trombley said. The couple was there with Matt Trombley, their son. The firefighter from Burlington, Vt., said he had never been to a seafood festival before.
“We’ve been to beer festivals, but we haven’t been to a seafood festival,” Matt said.
In a separate food tent, Laura Brown, who owns Fox Point Oysters, was putting out her morning harvest for people to try. “There is no better creature in the world,” she said.
“I love being out there every day. Their benefits to the environment make it worth it,” Brown said of the hard work, patience and dedication it takes to be an oyster farmer.
At Brown’s side was Andy Rogers, who was helping her shuck for the day. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire this past spring and is co-owner of the Jolie Rogers Traveling Raw Bar.
Rogers is gearing his business to the wedding industry, but recently catered a Boston Harbor boat cruise for an IT company.
For Ray and Joan Allard of Grafton, the annual seafood festival marks a change in the seasons. The snowbirds will be heading to Florida in a few months.
When asked what they ate for lunch, Joan Allard reported that her husband had chosen the clam chowder instead of his usual fried clams.
“She’s the lobster roll lady,” Ray Allard said.
The festival lasts until 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more info, visit seafoodfestivalnh.com.