Published: October 28, 2009
RUSKIN - Throngs of visitors will soon get their fill of Cedar Key oysters, steamed crawfish, smoked mullet and other ocean favorites at the 2009 Ruskin Seafood Festival.
The largest annual family event in South Shore is expected to draw up to 20,000 visitors Nov. 7-8.
"We're set to go, said Melanie Morrison, executive director of the Ruskin Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event. "The festival is a win-win-win for everyone involved. It's an inexpensive way for vendors to reach large crowds, nonprofits to increase their exposure and a way for visitors to learn about our community and have fun outdoors with their friends and families."
Performing on the main stage both days this year are musical headliners T-Blue, Caribbean Cowboy and Off the Cuff. And one of these candidates - Mary Ann Wilhelm, Stacy Self, Krystal Selke or Nick Bennett - will be named Ruskin's new honorary mayor at noon on Nov. 7.
Kids Funland will feature a full slate of entertainers, including Jumbo the Clown, Silly Sam the Music Man, Let's Twirl, Kona Man and Capo Watch, an Afro-Brazilian martial arts troupe. There also will be bounce houses, carnival games, pony ridesand a Home Depot children's workshop.
As always, seafood is the star at the food court, with an expanded variety this year. Yes, there will be plenty of fried shrimp, conch fritters, grouper fingers and fish and chips, and junk-food aficionados will find many of their favorites. But look for new seafood specialties, as vendors from as far away as Cedar Key and Norfolk, Va., participate for the first time.
Then there is the busy midway, where visitors will find arts and crafts, educational displays, free screenings, environmental exhibits and nonprofit groups, including Mote Marine, Elmira's Wildlife, Big Cat Rescue, the Humane Society and more.
And don't miss the boating and outdoor expo, which beckons the more adventurous to come take a look.
The chamber hosts the seafood festival as its largest annual fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds go to Friends of the Park, a nonprofit group benefiting E.G. Simmons Park.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: 21st annual Ruskin Seafood Festival
WHERE: E.G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW, Ruskin
WHEN: Nov. 7-8
HOURS: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 8
ADMISSION: Adults, $5; children 12 and younger, free; complimentary parking and shuttle
INFORMATION: (813) 645-3808 or visit www.ruskinseafoodfestival.org
Reporter Lois Kindle can be reached at (813) 627-4760.
Carole's Note: We do not take exotic animals to these events; only our highly trained and qualified educators. Wild cats should never be taken to fairs, flea markets, malls, schools or off site. Read why here: http://bigcatrescue.org/big_cat_news.htm
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Free ways to join us and help the big cats:
Twitter: Follow Me and be invited to enter our Animal Lover's Dream Vacation Giveaway! http://twitter.com/BigCatRescue