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Town, foundation plan for Nov. 6-7 Oyster Festival

The Urbanna Oyster Festival is 10 weeks away, and officials have been working to streamline the annual event, which is set for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 6-7.

The 2010 Oyster Festival Master Plan has been reviewed by the Virginia State Police, which amended parts of the plan. Vehicle traffic going into town will be stopped on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 8 a.m., an hour earlier than it has been stopped in the past. The town will reopen to traffic about 8 p.m., or earlier if possible.

In addition, the town will be closed to vehicles on Friday, Nov. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. for the Annual Fireman’s Parade.

At town council’s Aug. 17 public hearing on the festival plan, Urbanna resident Bob Calves asked if the speed limit on Route 602 (Old Virginia Street) west of town could be lowered during the festival.

First Sergeant Kevin Barrick of the Virginia State Police answered that VDOT would not permit a lower speed limit during the festival.

The State Police already requires temporary auxiliary lighting for a section of Route 602 to the road that leads to Bethpage Camp-Resort, said Sgt. Barrick, who added he would request that VDOT erect orange caution signs in the area of pedestrians.

Sergeant G.T. Mathias of the Virginia State Police explained this week that a pedestrian walkway from parking areas will be marked in fields to keep pedestrians and vehicles separated.

Vehicles that come to the festival via Town Bridge Road will turn right and park in areas on either side of Route 602.

Vehicles entering from Route 17 on Route 602 will park next to Hewick.

Vehicles will exit the festival parking areas in the opposite direction of how they entered, said Sgt. Mathias.

Parades will be limited in size to 80 units for the main parade on Saturday, and 65 units for the Fireman’s Parade on Friday.

Bob Henkel of the Urbanna Oyster Festival Foundation told council that six slips at the Urbanna Town Marina at Upton’s Point will be used by festival-related boats, and all waterfront activities will be educational. Henkel was responding to a question raised by councilman Don Richwine as to whether all six slips would be needed for the festival.

Henkel said the Oyster Festival’s budget is $144,000 with about $22,000 going for scholarships, and $9,000 for a marine science program in conjunction with Middlesex County Public Schools.

The rest of the budget, about $113,000, pays for expenses to stage the festival, he said.

At the August 7 work session of council, Henkel said the foundation normally “breaks even” on the festival, but lost $12,000 in 2008. In the three years the foundation made money, the surplus was donated to the Central Middlesex Volunteer Rescue Squad in Urbanna, he said.

Henkel said the Town of Urbanna does not provide money for the festival. The license fees the town collects are used to cover services.

Also, if the town’s expenses are greater than the fee revenue, the Oyster Festival Foundation pays the difference, said Henkel. Last year the foundation paid the town $1,300, he said.

The festival also generates a large amount of meals tax revenue for the town, noted Henkel.

posted 08.26.2009

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