KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Since the Florida Keys were first settled in the 1820s, the island chain’s cuisine has been based around the bounty of the sea. Clawless Florida lobster, yellowtail snapper, sweet pink shrimp, grouper, stone crab claws and more — all harvested by Keys commercial fishermen — have become prized signature items on the region’s menus.
From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, the area’s indigenous seafood and the fishermen who harvest it are to be celebrated during the fifth annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival.
Presented by the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association and the University of Florida/Monroe County Extension services, the festival is to take place at Key West’s Bayview Park, located at Truman Avenue and Eisenhower Drive. Admission is free.
As well as spotlighting local seafood, the mouthwatering feast is designed to generate interest in and awareness of the Keys’ commercial fishing industry.
Festival offerings include fresh local lobster, fish, stone crab claws, shrimp and deep-water golden crab — as well as savory conch chowder, conch fritters and conch salad. All dishes are to be prepared by fishermen and their families.
Soft drinks, beer and wine also are to be available.
In addition, the festival features games and activities for children and musical entertainment by local musicians.
Vendors of nautical items, nonprofit organizations and creators of marine art and crafts are to round out the event’s attractions. Raffles are planned throughout the day.
Proceeds from the festival benefit the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association and scholarships for college-bound children of commercial fishermen.
For lodging information in Key West, contact the Key West Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-LAST-KEY (800-527-8539), or visit the Keys Web site at www.fla-keys.com.