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CLAMERICA Celebration “clams up” in 2011

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Is it gone forever or just on ice?

By Ada Lang

After seven years of successfully sponsoring the CLAMERICA Celebration on the 4th of July in Cedar Key, the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association announced last week that the 2011 festival will not be held.

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Although organizers said they are not “happy as clams” over their decision, there were several factors to consider:

• The national holiday falls on a weekday this year, which would require downsizing the event.

• Current economic conditions, combined with the inability of the City of Cedar Key to provide financial assistance this year, weighed heavily on the decision.

• Loss of key personnel over several years has taken a toll on the small festival committee and has led to uncertainty on how best to proceed this year.

The festival committee felt it was an opportune time to assess how to implement future events with greater community involvement. The association members hope that local businesses, that have supported and benefited from this event, will be understanding of the decision.

The mission of the Association, a volunteer-based industry organization, is to conduct activities for the advancement and promotion of the shellfish aquaculture industry and feel their goals were achieved through CLAMERICA.

“We look to the future and hopefully to again sponsoring an even bigger and better CLAMERICA. However, we also look forward to creating new venues and opportunities to promote our industry,” Rose Cantwell, Association chair, said.

Cantwell added, "Each year, the festival has topped itself — in terms of both revenues and events to draw visitors.” The group was even able to recruit World Champion and Grand Master Sand Sculptor, Suzanne Altamare who wowed the crowds with her designs.

According to founding member of CLAMERICA, Sue Colson, thought is already being given to future events that would take advantage of cooler weather and would be easier to sponsor — requiring fewer volunteers and dollars. However, when asked about specifics, Colson just clammed up.

The Association thanks the festival committee and volunteers for their time in years past and reminds everyone that you can celebrate CLAMERICA every week by continuing to enjoy farm-raised clams and visiting Cedar Key.