The annual Seafood Festival held at the Long Island Maritime Museum usually brings in 12,000 eventgoers, some years as high as 15,000. At $8 for admission, this brings in nearly $100,000 for the …
The annual Seafood Festival held at the Long Island Maritime Museum usually brings in 12,000 eventgoers, some years as high as 15,000. At $8 for admission, this brings in nearly $100,000 for the museum’s costs to operate events and lectures throughout the year.
Due to COVID-19 and the far-reaching moratorium on large gatherings, the Maritime Museum is unable to host their Seafood Festival or Recognition Dinner, their two most lucrative fundraising opportunities. The Boat Burning, a beloved South Shore tradition where a vessel is put out of commission in celebratory flames, is scheduled in October, but is also likely to be cancelled.
“The Seafood Festival and our Recognition Dinner are really the bread and butter of our organization,” said executive director Terry Blitman.
Without the funding, the museum is now reliant on the generosity of the community to reach their $250,000 GoFundMe goal to keep their projects afloat.
“We will basically have to be shuttered until we can host events next year to raise money,” said Blitman about the dire financial situation.
The money raised during the events typically goes to such celebrated classes and forums like the Safe Boating Course, Winter Lecture Series, Storytime for Kids, Bay Day Summer Camp and winter and spring programs for children during school vacations.
Also covered by the fundraising money is the museum’s main attractions that include the 1888 oyster sloop Priscilla, which is a National Historic Landmark and one of the only original vessels of her kind still in operation. The museum also boasts a vast collection of 50-plus antique vessels owned by historical figures of the East Coast. The Bayman’s Cottage, a preserved home, and the William Rudolph Oyster House are both dedicated to encapsulating history and captivating audiences with daily life in the Sayville/Bayport area for those who worked in the industry in the 19th and early 20th century.
“We have hundreds of one-of-a-kind digital photographs in our archives from the 1800s and early 1900s in our library that are invaluable to researchers worldwide,” said Blitman, who also noted that the museum’s archives—rare antique log books that are kept under lock and key— are requested by academics year-round for research projects.
All of these will have to be shut down if the museum is unable to receive private donations to continue their work.
“We basically have three weeks left and then some very hard decisions to make,” lamented Blitman.
To make a donation to help keep the Maritime Museum open, please visit their website at https://www.limaritime.org/.