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Freeport’s Nautical Mile Festival kicks off summertime

Businesses from across Long Island welcome visitors all day

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The smell of fish filled the air, and seared meat could be heard sizzling and popping as it cooked on grills of the carts and booths of different vendors, at Freeport’s 33rd annual Nautical Mile Festival, on June 1.

“The [Nautical Mile] is where to be today,” Elizabeth Essor, of Uniondale said, as she and her husband looked at the food options offered at The Waffle Chic booth.

The festival was filled with everything from face painting to funnel cakes, artisan vendors to pitaya and acai fruit bowls. In the municipal parking lot, across the street from the Esplanade, there were a number of carnival rides for children and families to enjoy.

Erik Cowan, of Baldwin, and his 12-year-old son Aydan Cowan opted for a father-son day during the festival. “Besides being a great day, it’s also a good opportunity to get my son away from the computer games,” he said. “We just want to enjoy the day, [and] enjoy some quality time together.”

Despite the cancelation of Blues Festival, there was still plenty of live music playing at many of the restaurants and bars. Many attendees were seen milling around enjoying the sunny afternoon; others perused vendors.

Businesses from across Long Island set up shop along the Mile at 10 a.m. and welcomed visitors until the evening dawned. Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy kicked off the festival with a ribbon cutting, alongside local community heads, and town and county legislators, at noon.

“We put in for some good weather [and] we have it,” he said. “[There are] a lot of vendors here today. We got a miniature golf course. We have a steel band playing down there. All our restaurants and bars will be open, so [we’re] looking forward to a great day and enjoyment for all the families coming down.”

American-style food restaurant Mile on the Water celebrated its grand opening during the festival. The restaurant’s prime location, near the center of the Mile, gave the co-workers the chance to interact with festival visitors and welcome them inside.

“We’re hoping everybody can enjoy the view [and] the good experiences that the mile can offer,” Cristell Velasquez, restaurant manager, said.

Laurence Dresner, the executive director of the Long Island Arts Council at Freeport, said he set up a booth to let the community know more about the Arts Council. “[We came out] just to let the community know we are around,” he said. “We give free concerts, we have classes, we have photography shows during the year, [and] poetry writing. Just to, you know, spread the word.”

Joe Cunha, the owner of Twin Stills Moonshine in Riverhead, said this was his first time setting up a booth at the festival. “We heard it was a good opportunity too get our product out there and make some bottle sales,” he said. “We do about five to seven events every weekend, and this was just one more event that we could do.”

It was also the first time Kevin Curran, from the American Story Candle in Levittown, set up a booth at the festival. “We came out because we sell candles that are all American made,” he said. “We promote them out here. We support veterans, and we support American jobs, and that’s why we came out.”