When thinking of happening downtown areas, usually ones imagines a picturesque Main Street lined with local eateries and shops. The street is usually blockaded a few times a year for a fair or festival. Seaford doesn’t have that particular luxury.
“We don’t really have that quintessential downtown area in Seaford,” said Donna Jebaily, one of Seaford’s main event organizers. “So we thought we take advantage of what we do have and put on an event everyone could come to.”
Jebaily is referring to the large parking lot that runs parallel to Sunrise Highway and underneath the Long Island Rail Road-Seaford station. On Saturday, Oct. 4 starting at 1 p.m., the lot was unrecognizable as food trucks, tents, band stages and tables had replaced the usual commuter cars for Seaford’s first Oktoberfest.
The Seaford festival, inspired by the traditional German Oktoberfest first held in Munich in 1810, invited four Long Island breweries to take part in the festivities. Small Craft Brewing Co. (Amityville), Dubco (Bay Shore), W.A. Meadwerks (Lindenhurst) and Lithology Brewing Co. (Farmingdale). The breweries served their select craft beers inside of a large biergarten tent, accessible by those of the legal drinking age.
“We didn’t anticipate the amount of people that actually showed up; there was easily over 1000 people in the crowd throughout the day,” Jebaily said. “It was really the first big event in Seaford. All of the breweries were sold out by the end of the day.”
While business was booming for the breweries, local food trucks pulled up to the lot to serve food as well. “The food was great and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I didn’t hear a single complaint,” Jebaily said. “It was a great feeling for Ken, Celia, and I.”
Ken Jacobsen of the Seaford Chamber of Commerce and Celia Carlson both played equal roles with Jebaily in the planning and execution of the event.
Carlson moved to Seaford in 2009, and has since begun to understand the strong communal sense that Seafordites possess.
“When I first moved here, I kept talking to people who were saying they were from Seaford, and I kept thinking, ‘How could you be from here’,” Carlson said. “I now understand why people have stayed for so long. People are so kind and everyone helps each other out here.”
Carlson first became involved with the town’s event planning when she met Jebaily and saw her passion for the town.
“Her actions and her love for the community,” Carlson said. “It makes me want to pay it forward just like she does.”
Disaster nearly struck as the festival’s generator went in the early portion of the day, however, the planning committee was able to call upon the town for help.
“We called the town and they quickly provided us a second generator, which was a lifesaver,” Jebaily said.
Seafordites were also treated to live music courtesy of Vinyl Revival, a local band that plays hits from legendary acts, such as the Doobie Brothers, Hall & Oates, Donna Summer and Steely Dan. The highly experienced band played for four hours, free of charge.
“They always donate their time for the community, and they are amazing,” Jebaily said.
Entertainment was also available for children. Teddy Bear Mobile, a mobile bear-stuffing business, brought its own tent for the kids. Carnival games with prizes were set up for the Oktoberfest. An old-school video game bus was also present to provide both children and adults with some hands-on entertainment.
“People began to set up their own tents and chairs behind the games and buses,” Jebaily said. “It was really like a tailgating environment.”
The event coordinating committee also organized a fundraiser for the Susan Satriano Memorial Scholarship Foundation, a foundation that raises money for high school students seeking to attend college that have a parent battling cancer or has succumbed to the disease. $500 was raised for the foundation on Oct. 4.
State Senator John Brooks, Town of Hempstead Clerk candidate Kate Murray, County Legislator Steve Rhoads, Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald Clavin, and Fifth District Councilmanic candidate Chris Carini were among those in attendance.
“The feedback on Facebook has been so overwhelmingly positive,” Jebaily said. Although the event was a big success, Jebaily, Carlson, and Jacobsen may pump the brakes on booking large events in the near future.
“Ken, Celia and I are beat,” Jebaily said with a chuckle. “I think we are all set on big events for now. Call us after Christmas.”