“LobsterFest” gallery: Rick Benson, left, a past president of the Westport Rotary Club, greets guests as they entered the event under stormy skies at Compo Beach; volunteer Greg Minsky, center, cuts up crustaceans, and Danielle Dobin, right, serves up beer. / Photos by Gary Webster
Enjoying their LobsterFest feast are Jillian Jackman, left, of Milford, a former ice cream scooper at Saugatuck Sweets, and her sister Alissa Jackman of Brooklyn, N.Y.
A shore dinner was the main attraction at LobsterFest, featuring lobster and all the fixings. At right, the cadre of volunteers helping the Westport Rotary included, from left, Yvonne Senturia, Harrison Chizik, Jerry Lee and Deputy Fire Chief Nick Marsan.

By Gretchen Webster

WESTPORT — It was windy and rainy, and the lobster truck broke down temporarily in Rhode Island, but despite everything, the Westport Rotary Club’s annual “LobsterFest” at Compo Beach was a huge success Saturday.

“It’s the last party of the summer,” said Rick Benson, who greeted guests in a lobster suit.

More than 1,600 tickets were sold for lobster dinners for adults, as well as 400 children’s tickets. The money from the fundraising event, which topped $250,000 last year, according to Gillian Anderson, the Rotary’s fundraising chair, is distributed through the year to local, regional and international charities.

LobsterFest gallery II: Scott Broder, left, wields a chef’s knife to prepare lobsters for hungry diners; John Filip, center, with daughters, Emma and Ellie, 2½, snuggled under a blanket, and Sal Liccione, right, a Representative Town Meeting member.
Three Jennifers braving Compo Beach’s stormy weather are, from left: Jennifer Fava, director of the Parks and Recreation Department; First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker, and Jennifer Petrosinelli, of the Westport Fire Department.

It was the 12th LobsterFest organized by the club, said Benson, a past president of the Westport Rotary, but the first time rain fell on the day of the “rain-or-shine” event.

But that didn’t stop raincoat-clad diners from queuing up for the bright-red Maine lobsters, cooked and prepared by some of the 300 volunteers who helped at the fest.

There also was plenty of wine and beer to go around, poured by volunteers including Deputy Fire Chief Nick Marsan, and Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Danielle Dobin. Also seen at the event were First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker, Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Fava and several Representative Town Meeting members.

Checking out the Maritime Center’s “touch tank” of sea creatures are, from left, Mickey Salomon, Bar Salomon and Asher Kafetz, all of Westport.

There were activities for children, including a touch tank from the Maritime Center in Norwalk, with horseshoe crabs, clams and other sea life to observe. 

But most people were there to eat lobster at long tables under tents, or to pack up the feast and take their dinners home. Except for Sharon Barbarotta of Trumbull, who was sitting in a tent eating chicken salad with her grandson, Max Givens, 4, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Although she doesn’t care for lobster, Barbarotta invited her family from Brooklyn to LobsterFest, for one reason — they all love it.

Freelance writer Gretchen Webster, a Fairfield County journalist and journalism teacher for many years, was editor of the Fairfield Minuteman newspaper for 10 years and teaches journalism at Southern Connecticut State University.

This year’s LobsterFest was the first time rain fell on the day of the rain-or-shine event. A big crowd turned out at Compo Beach anyway.