The rest of the country should take a cue from the Florida Keys. This past weekend, the Marathon community showed the rest of the world that economy be damned – success is achieved though cooperation, tenacity, hard work and by celebrating an honorable heritage.

Early in the planning stages, the Marathon Seafood Fest organizers grappled with a purposed idea of reducing gate costs from $8 to $5. Arguments were strong on both sides, but in the end the Chamber and the Organized Fishermen of Florida decided to gamble on a lower take at the gate in hopes on enticing a larger crowd.

They got what they wished for. Early estimates put the festival’s attendance between 16,000 and 18,000 attendees and although the official numbers are not yet in, Chamber Director Daniel Samess said the receipts could break records.

What began as a neighborhood party nearly 35 years ago has slowly evolved into one of the biggest events in the Florida Keys and while the festival is a bit more commercial than the original – the massive collaboration of the event is what makes the Marathon Seafood Fest stronger year after year.
Organized by the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce and the Organized Fishermen of Florida (Marathon Chapter), the Fest is the one event that has a little something for everyone, and everyone pitches in somehow.

Hundreds of volunteers wearing yellow tshirts manned the gates, sold soda, beer, and ran various errands. Our fine crop of local musicians blew away the crowd…again, and even if you have heard John Bartus play Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” a million times – when he, Glenn, Marc and Christian are on stage in front of large crowd there is no one better.

The stoic fishermen who helped to shape this town so many years ago still prepare the seafood and their wives still whip up the sweetest desserts. Marine Bank was part of the original Fest and even though their name has changed – Centennial Bank still roasts weenies and grills hamburgers for those unlucky folks who find a way to live in the Keys with a shellfish allergy.

Even those who were not working made their contributions. Every lobster, conch fritter and beer purchase will find its way back into the community through the many donations O.F.F. makes throughout the year including scholarships and other gifts to the their community.

The revenues generated by the Chamber are circulate back through marketing initiatives, scholarships, and donations.

What a proud weekend for Marathon – a community who still knows how to throw a party.

Another Fest? Hell Yes!

Hurricane Hole celebrates inaugural Seafood Festival

If you missed the Marathon Seafood Festival this past weekend, don’t fret, more shucking and peeling is taking place this weekend at the Hurricane Hole which will likely register as a Cat 5 blow-out on the Saffir Simpson scale.

On Thursday night, the Hurricane Hole’s owner, George Rose, rumbled up to Fort Lauderdale to chauffer the weekend’s entertainment, a raging Boston party band by the name of Clutch Grabwell, to Stock Island. On the way back to single digit mile markers, the band was held up in Marathon due to the 7 Mile Bridge repairs.

At another tropical storm venue, The Hurricane Bar and Grill, Tony the Dishwasher cycled through local acts during the weekly “Open Mic” session as this editor persuaded the guys from Clutch to climb on stage. Moments later the ‘Cane’s new roof was nearly blown off when the horns exploded in wall of sound that single handedly ignited Spring Break ’09 in the Middle Keys. The sextet will be appearing at the Hurricane Hole all weekend, so make like an evacuee facing a Cat 3 and get to the Hole.


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