Did you try the crawdads?

Island’s first seafood fest a delicious success - Gate receipts put first-day estimates at around 6,000 people

— Islanders love a party.

What seemed like the whole island, along with visitors who came from places as diverse as Immokalee and Kansas, crowded into Veterans Park for the first-ever Marco Island Seafood Festival.

Celebrating the bounty of the sea and inland waters, and donating all profits to charitable causes, the festival included vendors such as Hammerhead Seafood, Gene’s Gator Nuggets, Florida Cracker Seafood, local favorites Nacho Mamas and Paradise Seafood, and Cameron’s Fish & Chips.

Dan MacGregor, visiting from Shapleigh, Maine, chose a plate of frog legs.

“I haven’t had any of these in years,” he said, pointing out that while Maine is also known for its seafood, it pays to eat seafood close to its source, and the Everglades is a great source of frogs.

Attendees also could choose among grouper sandwiches, fish chowder, gumbo, fried clams, shrimp platters, gator tail, crab cakes, and stone crab claws — $2 apiece or three for $5.

For the landlubbers, choices included hot dogs, burgers, sausages, fried chicken, candy apples, ice cream and kettle corn. Beer and wine tents were also doing a steady business.

Once festival-goers made their choices, many strolled over to the cavernous main tent and enjoyed their “catch” at tables set up under the big top.

Jim McCully of Marco Island said his grouper sandwich was “excellent — couldn’t be better,” while his wife, Judy, already had finished her plate of gator nuggets and took the opportunity to try her husband’s sandwich.

While on the midway where seafood was offered for sale, Debbie Odom of Island Hoppers Helicopter Tours was giving away plates of Cajun crawfish and shrimp along with corn on the cob and potatoes at her booth promoting their flying service.

“We went and got 40 pounds of crawfish, and cooked them using an old family recipe,” she said, offering instructions on how to shell and eat the diminutive delicacies.

Dozens of additional booths offered hats, t-shirts, sunglasses, jewelry, pottery, paintings, handbags, barbecue sauce, patio furniture, sculpted birds and fish, and honey and bee products.

At his stand offering signs made to order while you wait, vendor Race Russo of Delray Beach said, “We’re having our ‘gone with the wind’ sale,” after a gust of wind threatened to send his displays to the ground.

For a first-ever event, the Marco Island Seafood Festival ran smoothly, with plenty of volunteers, a user-friendly layout, and details like port-a-johns and trash pickup well under control.

“We’ve had fantastic cooperation from the city of Marco and the police department,” said festival chairman Stan Niemczyk of the Sunrise Rotary Club. “I’ve had some great people to work with to put this together.”

The Sunrise club teamed with the Marco Island Rotary Club and the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island to run the festival.

All profits from the $5 entry fee, beverage sales, raffle tickets and event t-shirt sales will be devoted to the charitable works of the three clubs.

Contact Lance Sheareer at lances22@gmail.com.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 11

JohnnyR writes:

Gosh ! Did we go to the same festival ? Stand in line for half an hour to buy a fish sandwhich ? Vendors that had nothing to do with seafood. Filthy outhouses ! The only good thing was the Country band. Thank God it was for charity or I'd really be upset !

paradisepeeps writes:

The Festival was GREAT!!!!!! All the organizers and volunteers should be thanked, and very proud! "Thank You." The food and vendors where delicious. The set up was great, lots of room to move around and park. The music line up was great. Something for everyone. Looking forward to next year!!!

JohninMarco writes:

Why were their no places to sit?

MarcoAvenger writes:

JohnnyR and JohninMarco - Are you guys serious. The event was awesome. It is just the first of many great events that will take place in Veterans Park.

JohnnyR - I am just curious. Are you on any committees that put events together. Or are you just another person on Marco who does nothing to improve the Island and complains about everything.

JohninMarco - I believe the flyer said to bring your own lounge chairs. And if you did not bring your own chair all you had to do was walk to the big tent and grab a fold up chair.

You guys really need to look for the good in things and not always the negative.

artrules writes:

We went on Sat and had a GREAT time.. the food was awesome.. lots of seafood choices..not sure where post #1 is coming from.. or #3.. .we sat in the big tent and there were plenty of chairs and tables to sit. Loved the bands, lots of space to move around in.... parking was excellent... we're looking forward to next year! Good job Marco!

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

I found this festival to be a carbon copy of all the other numerous "Seafood" festivals in the area.

Just wondering...was this "Seafood" festival intended to be a historical event?

After all...the Commercial Seafood Industry barely exist on Marco Island.

chris3 writes:

First I would like to thank the organizers, volunteers, vendors and all the entertainment, you did a great job for the 1st annual Marco Island seafood festival. Can't wait til next year.
To #1,#3 and #6, are you for real? This was the FIRST seafood festival for Marco, so there will be trial and error. Next year it will be better.
As for having non seafood vendors, excuse me but not everyone likes seafood, so the had other food for those people. The festival was for everyone not just you. Apparently you have never gone to the Everglades seafood festival, they have food for everyones taste.
As for the portapottys, the one that I used was clean, maybe you made the one you were in dirty? and "Thank God it was for charity or you would be upset"...please.... it's people like you that need to get a reality check. Seems to me that you are for one, a snob, and second you must complain about everything...so sad for you.
And if you didn't have a chair, are you too good to sit on the grass???? This wasn't the Phil or Barbara B Mann.
#6 if you have gone to any festival you must know that they are pretty much the same...arts and crafts, seafood, etc...or are you like #1 and just like to complain? I hate to say it but we really don't need people like you around an event that is meant for charitable reasons or for any event for that matter because you would complain about that also.

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

chris3;

Wasn't complaining...just stating my opinion.

I had hoped to see some originality in the Marco Island Seafood Festival.

As for..."complaining" in general...

That would be a little hypocritical of you, would it not...considering two thirds of your post consisted of YOU complaining about "others" post/opinions? You appear to be the one with an attitude..just my opinion.....

It may be to the advantage of the organizers to consider any opinions made in regards to the festival, negative or otherwise...if they are concerned about..."It being better next year."

playballonK writes:

Post 1,3 and 6 don't you know your on Marco Island, how dare you speak whats on your mind!
Dam* Cavedwellers!!!!!!!

bigkillsh writes:

that was not grouper

freedame writes:

For some of you.......

Need a little cheese to go with the whine!!!!!

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