Monday, February 16, 2015

the Cortez Fishing Festival

This past weekend (Feb.14-15, 2015) saw a small village area turn its main road into a street festival. The 33rd annual Cortez Fishing Festival aims to educate the public about the local fishing industry and the importance of preserving the wetlands. The $3 admission goes towards projects to preserve fishing habitat.

With our friend Shawna in town for just 45 hours, we figured this was a good spot to spend the day, and we weren’t disappointed. The splendid sunny day made the rum punch coconuts an immediate desire. We were happy to be randomly picked up by a guy with an extended golf cart to give us a ride to the festival from where we parked. (this was already after we had walked along the beach and had big bowls of homemade ice cream as our lunch… so justified?)

We browsed the arts and crafts section while listening to a country band. Andrew entered to win a hand-made wooden row boat [if you win, you just rent a uHaul and tow it home!] and considered a kitschy fish cleaning station for a buddy. We thought that this was actually it for the festival, until we got around the bend and there it was – the food!!

Festival food court

So many choices! What to try??  One guy gave a bad review of some coconut shrimp, which made us hesitate, but fortuitously made us check out each vendor to see whose shrimps looked the best. Shawna and I believe that our decision was good: as the shrimps and the large crab cake were both delicious. Who knew that pina colada sauce would be good on shrimp?

Mullet, Snapper, some grouper and even some octopus get grilled in the late afternoon. (It was all a bit salty and reminded us of Donghuanan Night Market in Beijing)

Next up was the local favourite, smoked mullet. Not to be left out, Sebastian had a taste and he even cried for more!

A refill of the coconut to wash that down before Shawna suggested the bakery. I won’t pass up a chance at baked goods, so with someone to share it with (Julie’s often left out due to her food intolerances) we ogled the cream-filled pastries. My strawberry puff was the size of my hand, filled with Bavarian cream, drizzled with chocolate and then topped with strawberries. Shawna’s cherry strudel was just as large (but thinner) and balanced nicely between gooey cherry filling and the light pastry.  Julie satisfied her cravings with a bag of kettle corn.  And with that, we were out of tokens.

There’s a fish processing facility here and today they had the place open to the public. We got to wander through, see some fish on ice (red and black grouper, snapper, mullet) and watch the local guy feed the pelicans who were hanging out on the dock.

As the sun lowered in the sky and our sugar levels max’d out, we made a beeline for the gulf to watch the sunset. A great finale to a great day!

Sunset at Coquina Beach

Additional photos of our day are found on Smugmug –>

More info on the Cortez Fish Festival located in Cortez Village, just west of Bradenton, Florida

An article about the festival featuring a quote from a Manitoban! plus some nice photos

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