#Events: Key West’s fishing history is celebrated

#Events: Key West’s fishing history is celebrated - A group of people standing in front of a crowd - Fête

Seafood lovers can savor dishes made with Florida Keys fish and crustaceans, and salute the commercial fishermen who harvest them, at a flavorful Key West festival scheduled Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 17-18.

The 10th annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival is set for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Bayview Park, located at Truman Avenue and Jose Marti Drive.

Admission is $5 per adult including entry into a raffle for $250 worth of seafood. Children under age 12 are admitted free to the family-friendly event.

Attendees can purchase and feast on offerings that typically include grilled Florida spiny lobster, fried fish, stone crab claws, smoked fish dip, sweet Key West pink shrimp and more — all caught, cooked and served by Keys commercial fishermen and their families.

The menu also includes favorite dishes such as conch ceviche, chowder and fritters as well as traditional flan and Key lime pie. In addition, soft drinks, beer, wine and cocktails are to be available for purchase.

New this year will be the “Dock to Dish” booth. Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Executive Director Bill Kelly and Stoned Crab restaurant owner Chris Holland started this new service, supported by local restaurants and the community, that delivers fresh fish around the Keys within 24 hours of an order being placed.

Other festival attractions include nonstop entertainment by local musicians and bands, arts and crafts booths showcasing handcrafted wares, raffles, a performance by the Key West Comparsa Dancers, a kids “fun zone” featuring a bounce house and giant slide, information booths and educational marine life exhibits.

Proceeds from the festival benefit the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association and scholarships for college-bound students from Key Largo to Key West.


By the numbers

Weekly Staff was able to chat with Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Executive Director Bill Kelly who shared some facts about the commercial fishing industry:

  • Commercial fishing is a 150-year-old tradition in the Florida Keys.
  • Collectively, the Florida Keys are ranked by NOAA as the No. 1 commercial seaport in the State of Florida and No. 2 in the Southeastern United States
  • Next to tourism, commercial fishing is the second largest economic engine in Monroe County and the Florida Keys ($600M+) and the second largest employer (3,500+ boat related)
  • Although much of the seafood sold in Florida is harvested in the Keys, about 90 percent of seafood sold and consumed in the Keys (supermarkets and restaurants) is actually imported.

—Alex Press