Tons of delicious seafood, a parade, live music on the Gulf and shopping in historic downtown Cedar Key – What more could anyone want? The 40th Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival takes place this weekend Saturday Oct. 17 and Sunday Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival celebrates the area’s fishing heritage. The festival dates back to 1969 when the Lions added the fall event to the already popular spring Old Florida of the Arts Festival. Bessie Gibbs, former owner of the Island Hotel, was also instrumental in organizing it. For that first festival “the Lions created a kitchen near where the current Post Office is located and served over a ton of freshly caught mullet, fired to perfection, along with the traditional trimmings of coleslaw and hush puppies,” according to Beacon archives.
The Cedar Key Seafood Festival is Levy County’s largest event, typically drawing more than 20,000 visitors seeking fun, food, shopping, and island beauty.
“When the festival first started, City Park was just a flat, sandy spot that people came to eat seafood at,” said Judy Duvall, a past president of the Lions Club. “The festival began because people wanted to promote local seafood, and it wasn’t until the 80s when the craft booths were added along the streets near City Park.”
More than 150 art and crafts exhibitors will offer their goods along Cedar Key’s 2nd Street in the annual Seafood Festival Arts and Crafts Fair, organized by Cedar Key Lioness, Miss Thelma McCain.
The Seafood Festival Parade takes place Saturday morning at 11 a.m. The parade will travel down Gulf Boulevard to the City Marina. Floats, decorated gold carts, bikes, boats, cars and individuals will compete in good humored fun for prizes. The best sea creature costume will also be chosen. Bystanders will be showered with candy.
Participation in the parade is free. Line-up begins at 10 a.m. on G Street. Parade registration forms for the event are available at retail outlets around town and can be downloaded at www.cedarkeylionsclub.org in the NEWS Section. The parade is sponsored by the Lions Club under the direction of Lions Parade Chairwoman Susan Hollandsworth.
Be sure to visit the Cedar Key City Park for delicious food. Typical of the delicacies at the festival are grouper sandwiches, clam fritters, funnel cakes, smoked mullet, crab cakes, corn on the cob, French fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, coke, iced tea, coffee, ice cold water, lemonade, cakes, cookies, and desserts.
Organized by the Cedar Key Lions Club and Festival Chairmen Roland Senecal and Maurice Hendrix, the Food in the Park is a community wide fundraising event, with over a dozen Cedar Key community groups, churches, nonprofits, and school clubs serving up fresh seafood and homemade delicacies at the beach-side city park. Children will also enjoy playing in the sea air at the Little Shark Park playground in City Park.
Enjoy your seafood under a cabana while listening to free live music at the seaside in Cedar Key’s beachfront City Park from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Live Music in the Park, sponsored by the Cedar Key Lions Club was organized by Anna White. Great music sets will be performed by outstanding Central Florida musicians. Live music continues in the evening at local establishments throughout the island.