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CLAMerica: Great food and fun to celebrate America’s birthday

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By The Staff

Thousands of people will descend on the island Sunday to enjoy the family friendly CLAMerica Fourth of July Celebration that highlights Cedar Key’s flourishing aquaculture industry. The Southeast Tourism Society named Cedar Key’s CLAMerica one of the top 20 events in the southeast for the third year in row. Cedar Key is one of largest producers of farm grown clams in the United States. Local independent farmers grow more than 130 million clams annually in the Gulf waters surrounding the islands. Festival goers will find clams served in many delicious ways: steamed, on the half shell, in chowder and fried. Smoked mullet, crab cakes and fried shrimp and other delicious seafood will be found in abundance, served up by local charitable groups. People who would like to express their discriminating taste can, for a $5 fee, serve as judges of the Cajun Clam Challenge where local chefs and restaurateurs enter a variety of dishes in hopes that you will cast your blue clam shell to vote their recipe your favorite. Contest tasting and judging runs from 3:00 – 3:30 p.m. Be sure to check out the Opening Parade at 11:00 a.m. where anyone can participate and the uniquely Cedar Key CLAMerica Golf Cart Parade at 2:30 p.m. Golf Cart drivers will be decorating to earn top honors in three categories: Most “Clammy,” “Most Creative,” and “Most Patriotic.” Another crowd pleasing event is the annual CLAMerica Mullet Toss held on the beach. Even if you don’t want to throw dead fish, watching the competition makes for a hilarious time as participants take their mullet tossing ability very seriously. And while you are in City Park check out Grand Master Sand Sculptor Suzanne Altamare’s latest sand creation. Throughout the day children can participate in a variety of fun activities including clam bag races, clam harvest hunt, clam raceways, guess the clam count, a clam lease (greased) pole contest, and free kayak races. Besides providing people with a fun time, CLAMerica “is a way to promote our clam industry, eat clams, and make people aware of our clamming industry,” said Sturmer. The festival is sponsored by the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association