Members of the Noon Rotary Club have been working feverishly to bring this event to the center of town for its first year. The event is about anything and everything “Conch.”
Immediate Past President and everyone’s favorite electrician and artist Ronnie Leonard took some time out to tell us how to make Conch Chowder.
“With Conch,” Ronnie laughs! “I don’t like the chunks real big and I don’t like’em real small.
I use small tomatoes. Conchs are a “funny meat.” You have to cook it in a pressure cooker or in a Crock•Pot. Some people put potatoes in. There are so many different recipes… My favorite is from a restaurant in Stock Island that has white Conch meat in it. Everybody does it different.”
Conchfest is featuring a Conch Chowder Cook-off. Every restaurant owner, chef, and individual; especially if you’re as salty as the meat, is invited to enter the chowder cook-off. Local celebrities are set to chow down and judge the chowders.
If fritters strike your fancy—then enter the Conch Fritter Cook-off!
Again, Leonard: “Conch Fritters are like a batter with onion and you deep fry them!”
Conchfest is slated for this coming Saturday, March 5 at Bayview Park. The festivities get underway at 11 am with a proclamation from the super salty, straight from a shell in the ocean, Mayor Craig Cates and Noon Rotary President, Cuban-born realtor Rudy Molinet. The national anthem will be sung by Jackie Williams.
“I want everybody out here,” Leonard isn’t hasty about securing your R.S.V.P. “I want all of the conchs out here. The mainlanders are invited. I went to Miami to invite them, but this is important to our community. Conchfest is a celebration of our heritage and all of the money goes back to Key West High School scholarship. This ought to be a great day for everybody. I know it will be for me. Next year it’ll be even bigger.”
Besides the KWHS Marching Conchs, there will be entertainment with country music star Cowboy Troy, Howard Livingston, and The Bubba System.
Everyone including out-of-town- and local restaurants and chefs is invited to enter the Conch Chowder and Conch Fritter Cook-offs. Go to http://www.conchfestkeywest.com. Only $25 per entry.