Heat can't wilt enthusiasm for East Lyme Lobsterfest

East Lyme — At the Niantic Lions Club 53rd annual Arts and Crafts Show Saturday, Wendy Bohara headed for the booth with watercolors of local landmarks and beaches, just like she always does.

Bohara, of Oakdale, admired a print of the Coast Guard barque Eagle that Diana Tyler, of Hebron, painted after she saw the ship lead the parade of sail up the Thames River during last year’s Operation Sail.

“It’s beautiful,” said Bohara, who, along with her daughters, bought two copies of the Eagle print and three more of other local scenes.

This year, nearly 150 vendors took part in the event, which was held in conjunction with the Lions’ 35th annual Lobsterfest and Chicken BBQ on the East Lyme Town Hall grounds.

Craig Woody, the club president, said he expected between 5,000 and 10,000 people to attend the event, which continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Howard Parkhurst, the club member who runs the craft show, said there were fewer vendors this year, but that allowed for a bigger walkway through the booths.

Despite the climbing temperatures and humidity, Tyler said she was selling a lot of pieces at the show. Tyler said she has had a booth there since 1988, and Bohara said she has bought Christmas presents from Tyler for her children for the past seven years. 

“Really nice people come to this show,” Tyler said. “And it’s really well organized.”

Bob and Vicki Friese, of Canton, and their friend, Barbara Izabel, of East Granby, took a break from shopping to sit on a bench in the shade.

“The humidity knocked us out,” said Vicki Friese, who wore a bracelet she had just bought. “But we’re not through yet.”

They were joined by Nancy Savage, a vendor from Newington. Her husband, Fred, manned their booth of country dolls while she took a break. Savage said business was okay, considering the heat.

“When people don’t feel good, they don’t buy,” she said. “So I’m pleased with my sales. People seem to like the beach-themed dolls and I’ve been selling Christmas ornaments all day.”

Nearby at the dining pavilion, families sat on picnic benches with trays full of lobster, chicken, corn on the cob and coleslaw. In just the first hour, the Lions members cooked 300 lobsters. They planned to serve about 1,200 lobsters by the end of the weekend, Woody said.

Last year’s event raised about $30,000, which was given back to the community through various charities, Woody said. He said he hoped to raise at least that much this year.

“Everyone meets here,” he said. “You can walk around and see all the quality craftsmanship and then sit down in the pavilion and have a wonderful meal.”

On one of the picnic benches, Jay and Lisa Aram, of Waterford, and their children, Daniel, 7, Lila, 5, and Mary, 1, relaxed after sharing two lobsters, chicken and a hamburger. Daniel smiled as he sipped his Diet Coke. His parents only give him soda as a treat.

The family said they missed the last Lobsterfest because they forgot to write down the date. They were so disappointed, they marked their calendars in January for this year.

“We’ll be back again tomorrow,” Lisa Aram said. “If it wasn’t so hot, we would come back this evening for dinner. The atmosphere is great.”



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