Food & Drink

Bob Miller Oysterfest: A Second Successful Year

Grace Miller, left, and her mother.
John Meade of St. James's Publick House and one of the organizers of Oysterfest.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ -- The second annual Bob Miller Oysterfest was held on Saturday, September 17, at The Woodland in Maplewood. The parking lot was converted into festival grounds that featured food, beer, free skin screenings, games for children, and live music. The event ran from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and drew large crowds throughout the entire day.

Originally started in 2015 by Grace Miller as a small fundraiser for melanoma research, the event has grown to be one of Maplewood’s most popular annual events. Grace Miller’s husband, Bob Miller, passed away in 2014 after a long battle with melanoma, which is considered to be the most deadly form of skin cancer.

The idea of free dermatologist screenings was conceived by Grace Miller and her four young daughters, as well as committed friends and community members. At last year's Oysterfest, three cases of skin cancer were discovered, and proper treatment methods were recommended to the afflicted free of charge. Free sunscreen was also offered at the event to help encourage regular sun protection, even though many people who have the disease already take the proper precautions.

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St. James’s Gate Publick House in Maplewood has taken a large role in the organization of the event for both years. The featured musical guest, Brian Kirk and the Jirks, came to the event from Avalon, NJ at the behest of John Meade, the proprietor of St. James's Gate. “We only come to Maplewood for this show every year,” Brian Kirk remarked, “but it’s a good event and a good cause.” Other musical guests included Ted Garber Band and the All Terrain Band and also the Snakes.

The continued success of Oysterfest is attributed to devoted community members, such as local Joe Geoghan. To help passionate youth of Maplewood contribute to the event, he started a neighborhood dog-wash that raised $70 for this year’s event. A group of children eagerly took to the stage after the first musical performance to be recognized for their contribution. With the continued support of a variety of age groups, the event is on track to have another strong year next September.

In 2015, Grace and devoted friends and family members organized the inaugural Robert J. Miller Oysterfest to celebrate Bob’s life, raise funds for melanoma research and provide skin cancer screenings. The idea was that people who normally wouldn’t take the time out of their busy schedules to see a dermatologist for a checkup would take advantage of a quick and convenient screening at a fun, social event.

The success of the event these past two years shows they were right.

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