Photo by KATE FELDMANAfter a five-year hiatus, the Tarpon Springs Seafood Festival returns to the sponge docks with food, jewelry and art.
TARPON SPRINGS – The smell of crab and grouper lured hundreds of people to the sponge docks for the annual Seafood Festival on Nov. 9 and 10, reeling them in with seafood and sales.
Vendors sold necklaces, sunglasses and Christmas ornaments, while human statues painted silver and balloon makers signified by the slow squeal of helium drew crowds to small pockets of the street
Tarpon Springs residents had waited a while for their Seafood
Festival. Five years, in fact. Five years since crab tables and grouper booths lined the streets.
Five years since Tarpon restaurants left their buildings and brought the menu outside. Five years since people flocked from around the county for a taste of what Tarpon Springs has to offer.
“Now that the Merchants Association is citywide, we’re all working together to make this feasible,” said Sue Thomas, the president of the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce. “We have more people and more money.”
Juan Alameda, a chef at Tarpon Tavern, spent the weekend selling fresh seafood chowder with his wife and son.
“Here in Tarpon Springs, we have all the resources to compete with Dunedin and Safety Harbor,” he said. “Festivals like this help bring new people to town to learn about what we have to offer.”
Paul’s Shrimp House recently moved back to its original location on Athens Street, and general manager Derrial Hodges said the timing of the Seafood Festival couldn’t have been better.
“It’s all about exposure,” he said. “We’re hoping to draw attention to all the new food we’re doing, and the festival is the perfect place to do that.”
Hodges got his exposure, and plenty more, as one thought echoed throughout the streets: don’t let the Seafood Festival disappear again.