St Augustine Annual Seafood and Bluegrass Festival begins today at 4 p.m.
JOSEPH BANETH ALLEN
Publication Date: 03/24/06
A virtual cornucopia of delectable, mouthwatering dishes will be available for all festivalgoers to indulge in during the 25th Annual Lions Seafood and Bluegrass Festival.
The annual three-day festival begins today, said Dominic Mercurio, event chairman for the St. Augustine Lions Club. The festival will be held at the Castillo Drive Events Field behind the Visitors Information Center. General admission to the festival is free, but donations are appreciated and go to all of the Lions Club’s ongoing charitable work in the community.
“Fried calamari is my favorite festival seafood dish,” Mercurio said.
Yet if fried calamari gives a festival attendee’s taste buds the heebie-jeebies, there will be plenty of other seafood delicacies to try. “There will be a variety of shrimp, crawfish, calamari, grouper, crabs, oysters, that will be grilled, fried, baked and cooked in just about every way conceivable,” he said.
Tasting the wares of the food vendors at the festival will be easy on the wallet. On average, a food basket with one main dish and a side item will cost about five dollars. For those festival-goers whose wide eyes match their appetites, there will be a captain’s super-combo platter available for $20. The super-combo platter will provide a wide sample of the food dishes being highlighted at the festival.
“Competition among food vendors for the first and second place ribbons, presented to the best food dishes at the festival, is fierce and swift,” Mercurio said. “There are no cash prizes attached to the ribbons. For the vendors, the reward comes from the prestige and pride that accompany each one of the festival’s ribbons.”
The Lions seafood festival also boosts the uniqueness of presenting a People’s Choice Award for the food fender with the most popular dish of the event. “Festival-goers will be able to vote who has, in their opinion, the best food at the event,” he said.
For the last three years, the winner of the People’s Choice Award has been the Crawfish Company of Central Florida. The Crawfish Company of Central Florida boosts on its Web site its aim to retain its ranking for a fourth year in a row.
Hoping to give the Crawfish Company of Central Florida a run for the prize, the Jacksonville Beach Seafood Company will offer up a variety of fare, such as fried shrimp and oysters.
Also in attendance, but not participating in the food vender competition, will be the First Coast Technical Institute’s Culinary Arts Department.
Bluegrass musicians will perform throughout each day of the festival. Tresa Jordan and the Lonesome River Band are among the nationally recognized Bluegrass and Country Music musicians that will perform at the festival.
In keeping with the Lions’ goal of promoting charity work, the St. Johns County Humane Society will offer on-site pet adoptions to qualified festival-goers.
Beginning at 4 p.m. today, the festival continues from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and draws to a close at 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information on the 25th Annual Lions Seafood and Bluegrass Festival, call 829-1753.
© The St. Augustine Record