- Peals of reverb charged surf guitar echoed down Main Street in Sag Harbor this Friday as the Whaling Museum celebrated with their Fifth Annual Luau fundraiser. The Surf Dogs
were on hand playing classic favorites such as "Pipeline" by the Chantays and "Misirlou" by Dick Dale as guests feasted on food provided by the Seafood Shop
in Wainscott, including the customary luau staple, roast pig - and vied for raffle prizes donated by Flying Point Surf and Sport and Bikehampton in Sag Harbor.
Both adults and children alike danced the evening away on the steps of the museum to classic surf tunes courtesy of The Surf Dogs.
Director of the Whaling Museum Zach Studenroth
who attended the event decked out in a Hawaiian shirt and colorful lei, explained that the luau began five years ago to complement an exhibit one of their board members, Bettina Stelle
, did on the history of surfing. "Bettina helped curate an exhibition in the Museum on the art of surfing - all about surfing and how the whalers discovered it and the history of how it evolved in this country," Studenroth said. "That became the reason for doing this luau as a benefit fundraiser and a fun party because it fit with the theme of that exhibit."
Although that original exhibit on surfing has long since left the museum, (their current exhibit "Oil! Whales, Wells...What Next? has been on display since late last summer) - first luau was such a success that they decided to make it an annual event. "It was a huge
success," said Studenroth, leaning back on his heels for emphasis. "We were almost overwhelmed it was so great. We had so much fun that year we decided to keep doing the event."
"Every surfer from all over the East End turned up, and the event was just crawling with surfers," seconded Stelle, who organized the first luau and each successive one. "What is nice is that there are a lot of kids, there are teenagers, I think for me it's the most casual, fun benefit. There isn't any stuffiness, which is what I really love about this event."
In true Hawaiian tradition, guests were immediately "leied" upon entering the gate at the Whaling Museum's Luau this past Friday.
Studenroth is quick to defer any credit or accolades for the luau to Stelle, whom he explains is truly the driving force behind what has become one of the Whaling Museum's biggest events of the summer. "Bettina lined up the music and the donations: Jimmy Buffett
is a major sponsor donating the Land Shark beer and margarita mix, as is the Seafood Shop, who does all the food and the raffles we do are also Bettina's doing," Studenroth pointed out. "She's really a great board member. She really gets out there and hustles and creates the event, and goes after vendors and talks them out of their stuff - you need people like that - she's very motivated and very dedicated to the museum."
According to Studenroth and Stelle, the annual luau has in past years brought in "between 250 to 300 ticket sales," said Studenroth. "We have a lot of people that come to this event who tell us they really look forward to it, and they come back year after year."
"We're a little bit lighter than last year," mentions Stelle," but everybody is seeing that. Looking around though, there are a lot of people. Most of the tables are full and the weather is great." Studenroth agreed, adding with a smile "I sure hope someone is watching the gate!"
With the passing of the luau and the Seconnd Annual Energy Fair they held the following day to complement their current exhibit, which seeks to draw parallels to the period when petroleum replaced whale oil to fill our domestic energy needs and now, as we search for yet another resource to light our homes and power our cars, the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum has one more big event on their docket; their 14th annual Lobsterbake that kicks off Harbor Fest in September.
The Fifth Annual Luau fundraiser to benefit the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum was a hit again this year, with live music provided by The Surf Dogs, food catered by The Seafood Shop in Wainscott and raffle prizes donated by Flying Point Surf & Sport and Bikehampton.
"We pretty much lie low until September because it's very hard to do special events in August because people that are here just really want to go to the beach and enjoy the outdoors," said Studenroth. Considering that this summer didn't really seem to start until July 4th weekend, this year's Lobsterbake is sure to be the cause célèbre during what residents hope will be the Indian summer of a lifetime.
For more information on the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, visit www.sagharborwhalingmuseum.org.