Huge local lobsters on the weigh-in scales, fresh lobster prepared every way you can imagine, and the 18th Annual Schooners Sand Sculpting Contest. Event draws thousands of divers and lobster fans from all over the Southeast for the annual Lobster Tournament. Divers will be competing in a variety of categories, including Spiny Lobster, Shovelnose Lobster and Big 6.
Proceeds benefit the Florida Aquatic Marine Institute and the Toys For Kids Foundation. Schooners Beach Club, 5121 Gulf Drive, Panama City Beach. For more, go to the Festival Web Site
Related articles and Things to Do near Panama City
PENSACOLA — Fresh local seafood from the Gulf of Mexico will be served tapas-style by 18 food vendors stationed around Seville Square downtown. Featured local catches include local snapper, seafood gumbo, oysters, soft shell crab, coconut shrimp, Caribbean crab cakes, bang bang shrimp and more. With nearly 200 arts and crafts vendors, the Pensacola Seafood Festival is one of the largest arts and crafts fairs in Northwest Florida. Admission and entertainment are free. For more, go to the Festival web site (Caution: Loud audio)
PORT ST. JOE — The annual Scallop Festival draws big crowds to this cozy Gulf County community with an impressive lineup of entertainers and dish upon dish of savory scallops harvested from nearby St. Joseph Bay. The festival is held in George Core Park, overlooking St. Joseph Bay, and admission is $5 on Friday and Saturday until 5 pm; $10 after 5. Parking is free. For more information, visit the Festival web site
DESTIN — Like many of Florida’s seafood festivals, great pride is taken here in serving local catches from the Gulf of Mexico. The festival is in its 37th year and sprawls along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk. The main attraction, of course, is the food being served by 28 vendors, including local favorites AJ’s, Brotula’s Seafood House and the Boathouse Oyster Bar.
With four entertainment stages, the festival offers a potpourri of local musical acts from the rock, reggae, country and tropical music genres. Admission to the festival is free. For more information, visit Destin Seafood Festival web site
CEDAR KEY — Looking for old Florida? This rustic outpost on the Gulf’s “forgotten coast” has a rich fishing history, and it is the nation’s No. 1 supplier of farm-raised clams, succulent red-tinged littlenecks that make your mouth water just looking at them. We love Cedar Key clams, and you’ll love their annual seafood festival. In addition to locally harvested seafood, the festival boasts more than 200 arts and crafts booths with live entertainment around town, day and night.
The Cedar Key Seafood Festival is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and features more than 200 arts and crafts exhibits, live music, a parade Saturday morning and loads of great local seafood. Bluegrass music is the featured entertainment. For more information, read Florida Rambler’s full story.
NICEVILLE – If you’ve got mullet, flaunt it. And they have plenty of mullet in the waters of Choctawhatchee Bay and the bayous around Niceville, which is near Destin in Florida’s Panhandle.
An estimated 4 tons of mullet will be consumed during this three-day Cajun country-flavored festival. In addition to tons of fried, smoked and Cajun recipe mullet, there should be an ample supply of oysters, crawfish and shrimp dishes on hand. For more information, visit Festival Web Site
ST. MARKS – This community festival has been celebrating the opening of stone crab season every year since 1997, but this historic little fishing village has been around a lot longer than that. St. Marks was first settled 1527 at the confluence of the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers, near where they empty into Apalachee Bay, and stone crabs are not a sport here, it’s their business. The weather is always perfect towards the end of October, so enjoy the great food, music, parade and, of course, the crowning of the Stone Crab Queen!
The festival provides a venue for local musicians and artisans. Proceeds from the festival are donated to charities in St. Marks and the surrounding area. Festival web site
MADEIRA BEACH – This festival is held at the colorful but touristy John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk on Gulf Boulevard on the busy barrier island separating St. Petersburg from the Gulf. This festival is more of a promotional event for the village’s 150 shops rather than a celebration of the seafood industry.
Entertainment schedule (all free): Thursday, rock concert; Friday, Halloween Block Party; Saturday, country music; Sunday, beach party music. The festival features a juried art show, street dance, fishing expo, seafood vendors and entertainment on the Food Court Stage. For more information, visit the Johns Pass Festival web site
NAPLES — This is the 7th year for the Naples Stone Crab Festival, which celebrates the kickoff of the stone crab season on the waterfront in upscale Naples. Sponsored by the Old Naples Waterfront Association, the festival is designed to show off the historic center of Naples. It also helps that this area of the Gulf Coast, especially the Ten Thousand Islands, is one of Florida’s prime stone crab harvesting regions. Most of the events are hosted at waterfront businesses. Free water taxis will transport you to all waterfront locations participating in the festival. For more information, visit the Festival web site