The June 3, 2023 Rotary Club of Essex Shad Bake was a rousing success! Thanks to the many hard-working volunteers, sponsors, donors, and to the people who showed up to enjoy the return of this wonderful New England tradition.


Photos by Nate Salter

The Rotary Club of Essex Shad Bake, one of Yankee Magazine’s “Top 20 Summer Events,” returned for the first in-person event since the COVID pandemic. This important culinary tradition was started in 1958 and is a classic Spring ritual of the Connecticut Shoreline.

Retaining its classic charm and New England community energy, the Shad Bake had a new venue, the Essex Island Marina Safe Harbor grounds, which is a complimentary short ferry hop across the marina channel. 

Once the basis of a sizable fishery on the Connecticut River, American Shad are a flavorful fish known for their taste and the difficulty in preparing them for the table (due to thousands of tiny bones).  Expertly deboned and nailed up on oak planks around a smoldering bonfire, the shad took on a smokey flavor and was accompanied by many sides and pie from Lyman Orchards.  Hot dogs and barbecue chicken were available as well.

New England clam and oyster appetizers were served at 1:00 p.m. (at an additional cost). A cash bar offered several different varieties of beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages.

The live music of Paddy Whack delighted guests as they played traditional Irish and American fiddle tunes throughout the afternoon.

This event provides funds to support the Rotary Club of Essex programs and charities, such as scholarships to local students, Essex libraries, Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries, and many other local charities.

The Rotary Club of Essex would like to thank our 2023 sponsors and volunteers, without whom this event would not be possible:

$5000 Captains Level Sponsors

$2500 Fisherman Level Sponsors



$1000 Shad Level Sponsors

Diana Harbison MD, P.C.

Jeanne and Tim Tobin

Emme and Jonathan Deland

Marilyn Fall

Stephen and Alison Brinkmann

Susan Malan Realtor CT Broker Associate



$500 Roe Level Sponsors

Gerri Lewis

In-kind Sponsors

Joseph Shea
Paddy Whack

Thank You, 2023 Shad Bake Volunteers!

Ava Boyles
Ava Frost
Callie Breitenbach
Chip Frost
Corina Pagliuco
Donna & Kevin Parker
Eileen Russell
Erica Martel
Hayden Amsdenfish
Haylee Kulig
Isabella Capezzone
Jake Lindy
Jeanne Tobin
Joe DiRenzo
Joyce Flynn
Karen DiRenzo
Karen Walsh
Kyle Hinding
Linda Herman
Linda Levene
Lon Seidman
Madison Vernotzy
Matt Carr
Mike Augusta
Pat Callahan
Peter Bunting
Robert Ward
Stephen & Allison Brinkmann
Steve Hinding
Tom Kulig
Zoe Cone