(June 12, 2015) Fagers Island celebrates a milestone this month and to ring in its 40th birthday, the 60th Street hotspot will be throwing it back with an old school pig roast this Tuesday, June 16.
Beginning at 3 p.m., the party lasts all night long with performances from Zion Reggae, The Klassix and DJ Hook will be spinning tunes along with host DJ Batman.
Food platters will be available from 3-6 p.m. with choices such as barbecue ribs, chicken and roasted pig along with a selection of side dishes for $4. There will also be an Island Rum punch bar.
“In 1980, near the end of summer, a couple of friends and I decided to set up a big fire pit out on the beach to roast pigs,” Owner John Fager recalls. “Eventually, it became a tradition and every year around September; we wouldn’t tell anyone and people would wait for the smoke and know we were having our free pig roast party.”
People eventually found out about the annual party by word of mouth and Fager’s Island was usually packed by 5 p.m.
“That was the cool thing about it — everyone would wait for the smoke,” he added.
By the 1990s, the party started to get out of hand and Fager ultimately discontinued them.
In honor of 40 years at Fager’s Island, he is bringing back the pig roast for one night to recreate the glory days.
“A lot of people who came here in the ‘70s and ‘80s to party have said they met their wife here and are now bringing their children with them to visit,” Fager said. “There’s nostalgia for people who used to hang out here in their twenties and are now 60 years old.”
Originally from Baltimore, Fager visited Ocean City with his family in the summer frequently.
“Ocean City has been a great place to live and have a business,” Fager said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind town and very unique.”
In the 1960s, he owned and operated the Purple Moose Saloon, which he sold to embark on a real estate career.
He found the two-acre location on 60th Street in the early 1970s and decided to purchase the land to build dozens of townhomes on the property.
Shortly after, the real estate industry crashed, Fager held on for a few years, but as 1975 approached, his funds were dwindling.
“I had been in the bar business and decided to build a box on pilings to generate some income and when the real estate market rebounded I would move the pilings to make townhomes,” Fager said.
Well, that was the plan anyway.
“Once we opened the plan went out the window because it was very popular,” he said. “Back then, all bars were closed up with no plants or open views of the bay. We were different and people showed up.”
The original structure had “BAR” inscribed on the front with alcoholic drinks being the only menu choice.
“When we first opened it was just a bar. We added food later on,” Fager said. “We didn’t have a sign and people could not see us from the highway back here. It was all word of mouth.”
Throughout the years, Fager’s Island has continued to evolve and change with new decorations, decks and bars, plus remodels and beach additions.
“People like to see new seating or bar areas; it keeps the restaurant fresh,” Fager said.
Fager’s pet project remains the fine dining section upstairs. Fager vows to make the experience a memorable one.
“Ocean City needs fine dining with the hundreds of business conventions and golfers who want more than paper napkins and onion rings,” Fager said. “They want a nice prime rib in an upscale atmosphere, which we are happy to provide.”
Currently, Fager’s Island has 32 premium wines by the glass and a selection of crafted classic cocktails inspired by their 40th anniversary.
Also, five original Fager’s T-shirts have been recreated sporting an “eternal child” face on the front.
“It’s our theme, Fager’s Island is eternal, we will always be young,” Fager said. “We want to keep it fun for all guests whether they are stopping by for a cocktail to watch the sunset, getting a bite to eat or dancing the night away.”