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Seafood, Arts, Crafts, Music and Family Fun Come Together at the St. Augustine Lions Seafood Festival

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

The date is set, so mark your calendars for March 4-6, 2016 when seafood, arts, crafts, music and family fun come together at the St. Augustine Seafood Festival put on by the local Lions Club with the help of Winn-Dixie.

This delicious annual event, held at downtown at Francis Field, benefits the community work of the nonprofit St. Augustine Lions Club. President and Event Chairman Dominic Mercurio III says, "The founders wanted to provide an event that benefited the community and the tourists."

For over 30 years this three-day festival has been a mainstay for locals, who love its adult- and kid-friendly activities. Kids 13 and under get in free making it easy to bring the entire family out for a weekend of spring seafood eating and festivities. Activities abound to include everything from rides, games, Spanish landing and pirate village, magic shows, live music, youth performers and arts and crafts show.

The festival has lots of activities to keep kids of any age, as well as adults, busy. Aside from the Arts and Crafts Village featuring over 100 vendors, sway to live jazz music on Friday and Americana music on Saturday and Sunday. Festival goers can have fun on the human hamster water ball, moon bounce, bungee jump, rock wall, kiddie jet ride, kids' obstacle course, giant slide and sword play with pirates. Then there are crafts to foster creativity: sand and candle art, "happy hat" making, and a Crafts4Kids booth.

But it's the great seafood offerings that highlight the event. Mercurio tells us: "Most of our food is done by festival caters. We visit other events looking for quality food caterers and keep asking our fans for suggestions. We always get referrals." This year's caterers are from Florida, Georgia and Louisiana offering seafood items such as Cajun Alligator Stew, Caribbean Jerk Fish, Conch Salad served in a pineapple bowl, Devil Crab Balls, Lobster Bisque and Barbecue Shrimp Nachos.

Although seafood is naturally the main focus here, there are some other foods available such as Jerk Chicken, Barbecue Pulled Pork, Coconut Hush Puppies, Fried Brussel Sprouts, Island Beans and Rice, Fried Plantains and Fried Green Tomatoes. Of course, there are a number of favorite festival fare foods you can get, some with local Florida flavor. Chocolate Key Lime Pie anyone?

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