Swamp stomp: Everglades Seafood Festival takes over E-City this weekend

Karen Hughes with Black Jack Grill explains the concession stand's seafood options during the 38th Annual Everglades Seafood Festival on Sunday, February 6, 2011 in Everglades City. Allie Garza/Staff

Photo by ALLIE GARZA // Buy this photo

Karen Hughes with Black Jack Grill explains the concession stand's seafood options during the 38th Annual Everglades Seafood Festival on Sunday, February 6, 2011 in Everglades City. Allie Garza/Staff

— “Imagine 50,000 people in a town with a permanent population of 500,” said the press release from the Everglades Seafood Festival. “That’s what happens during the first weekend in February when Everglades City holds its Seafood Festival.”

As it has ever since 1970, Everglades City, the minuscule metropolis surrounded by Everglades National Park, and Collier County’s original county seat, will invite one and all this weekend to its annual blowout celebration. With limited accommodations and accessed only by miles of two-lane roads, the festival presents unique logistical challenges, for both organizers and attendees.

Once you arrive at the Seafood Festival, you’re smack dab in the middle of the biggest honkytonk fair you ever set your eyes on. From 5:30 p.m. on Friday, February 3, when the opening ceremonies take place, the next 48 hours are a guitar pickin’, finger lickin’ extravaganza.

Country music and Florida seafood are the twin anchors of the Seafood Festival, and both are sure to be consumed in mass quantities. The performance stage hosts a non-stop lineup of performers, including national stars and Southwest Florida musicians. Along with the traditional country sounds of acts like Sawgrass, Wild Eyed Southern Boys, and the Gladezmen, the Seafood Festival is making a belated nod to the British Invasion, with Beatles tribute band BeatleBeat scheduled to play from 7:30 to 9 on Friday evening.

Country musician David Nail will be in Southwest Florida Saturday to headline the Everglades Seafood Festival.

Country musician David Nail will be in Southwest Florida Saturday to headline the Everglades Seafood Festival.

One highlight of the weekend will be the show by Nashville recording artist David Nail, who will take the stage at 4 p.m. Saturday. He is touring in support of his “The Sound of a Million Dreams” album, released in November.

Everglades City is the unofficial capital of the stone crab fishery, with a fleet of crabbers that supplies the signature local delicacy to everybody from Joe’s Stone Crabs in Miami to Truluck’s in Naples. Crab claws will be available, as well as every kind of seafood that can be pulled out of the sea, from shrimp to oysters, blue crabs to bouillabaisse, crayfish to catfish, grouper and snapper. Oh, and don’t forget frog legs and gator tail, the even more local products of the Everglades. No word if Burmese python is on the menu.

The seafood items will be augmented by all the usual suspects of carnival cuisine – kettle corn, corndogs, cotton candy, nachos, barbecue, and ice cream. You can also count on copious supplies of everyone’s favorite amber colored fermented beverage (yes, beer).

Vendors will hawk their wares at over 100 arts and crafts booths, with everything from kitschy souvenirs such as rubber alligators, to one of a kind paintings, cowboy hats, and of course t-shirts. What’s the point of coming to a cultural event if you don’t have the proper apparel for bragging rights afterward? There is a carnival midway with a full complement of rides for the kids, or the adventurous.

Admission is free, and parking is provided by local charitable organizations. The festival was started, back in the ’70s, as a fundraiser to provide playground equipment for McLeod Park, now the epicenter of the Seafood Festival. To get there from Marco Island, head east on US 41 to SR 29, turn right, and head south four miles with everybody else.

Some other weekend, before it warms up too much, come back and actually see Everglades City.

The Everglades Seafood Festival opens on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

Information: www.evergladesseafoodfestival.com or 239-695-2277.

ENTERTAINMENT

FRIDAY, FEB. 3

5:30 p.m. Sawgrass

6:30 p.m. Jessie Thompson Project

7:30 p.m. Beatle Beat

9 p.m. Gruv Monsters

10 p.m. Dirt Road MoJo

SATURDAY, FEB. 4

10:30 a.m. Hamilton Boys’

Noon Dirt Road MoJo

1 p.m. Wild Eyed Country Boys

2:30 p.m. Big Bottom

4 p.m. David Nail

5:30 p.m. Jessie Thompson Project

7 p.m. SowFlo

SUNDAY, FEB. 5

11:30 a.m. Hamilton Boys

12:30 p.m. Gladezman

1:30 p.m. Big Bottom

2:30 p.m. Warren Silvers

4 p.m. LoCash Cowboys

5:30 p.m. Wild Eyed Country Boys

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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