Over the holiday break, 16 Florida Keys fishermen got together and cleaned 2,600 pounds of grouper to get ready for the 13th annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival.
After about five and half hours, they had 800 pounds of local grouper fillets ready to be battered and served Jan.13 and 14 at festival at Bayview Park, Truman Avenue and Jose Marti Drive in Key West, says marketer Jill Snodgrass.
The fish is being stored at Fanci Seafood on Cudjoe Key until the event. The carcasses are recycled as crab-trap bait, promoting the sustainability cycle. The fishermen will also prep an estimated 1,200 lobster tails, 550 pounds of stone crab and 110 gallons of conch chowder and lobster bisque.
The 13th annual festival celebrates the Keys’ world-renowned fresh seafood and the commercial fishermen who devote their careers to harvesting it.
Presented by the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, the family-friendly feast is set for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The menu features fresh grilled Florida spiny lobster, pick-and-peel Key West pink shrimp, stone crab claws, fried local fish, smoked fish dip with crackers, lobster bisque and more. All seafood is prepared and served by local fishermen and their families.
Traditional regional favorites such as conch salad, conch chowder and conch fritters, prepared according to local recipes, also await. Other food available includes hot dogs, hamburgers, sweet flan and Key lime pie. Beverages range from soft drinks to beer and wine to island-style cocktails.
Plans also call for nonstop live music by regional musicians and bands, raffles and a fun zone with activities for kids. Vendor booths are to offer arts and crafts depicting aspects of the fishing community and marine life, as well as other items made by local artisans.
Admission is $5 per adult, including entry into a raffle for $250 worth of seafood, and free for children under age 12. Proceeds benefit the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association and scholarships for college-bound students from Key Largo to Key West.
The event is pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, encouraging guests to walk or ride. We employ green methods offering biodegradable service ware, recycling bins/trash sorts and reusable bags and donate any leftover food.
According to the Department of Commerce’s Fisheries Economics of the United State, Florida’s commercial fishery is second in the nation in terms of sales and income and third in the nation with the number of jobs supported by commercial fishing, Snodgrass says.