CORTEZ – Get ready to snap up some crabs at the 7th Annual Cortez Stone Crab and Music Festival in the historic fishing village of Cortez.
The free festival, on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10-11, is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., featuring stone crabs, stone crabs and more stone crabs – plus live blue crabs – to benefit Fishing for Freedom’s Manatee chapter and the children of Port St. Joe, the sister city of Cortez.
Festival proceeds will help make up for some lost wages for Cortez commercial fishermen affected by red tide, said festival organizer Bob Slicker, of the Swordfish Grill and Tiki Bar.
This year’s festival also is a hurricane relief toy drive for families hit hard by Hurricane Michael last month, said Slicker, who helped get two trailers loaded with hurricane supplies to the Panhandle.
“We’re hoping for a tremendous outpouring from the festival,” Slicker said. “Blessing Bags has paired up with us and will be there with SIRF.” Service Industry Relief Festivities helps workers in the service industry, like wait staff and cooks, when business is down due to natural disasters like red tide and hurricanes.
Local restaurants are still serving fresh, healthy, sustainable seafood, and diners sit inside air conditioning, where they are not affected by red tide, Slicker said.
“We do not serve things affected by red tide,” he said. “We don’t serve anything we don’t eat ourselves.”
With the slogan, “Our stone crab never travel by land,” festival-goers can be sure of fresh seafood supplied by local fishermen.
The stone crab season got off to a slow start on Oct. 15, but has picked up, and 1,200 pounds of stone crab and counting are ready for the festival, including jumbos and colossals, Slicker said.Stone crab season typically heats up after the first cold front of the season, which is approaching today.
The festival features back-to-back live music on three stages both days, including a Saturday performance by Berry Duane Oakley, son of original Allman Brothers Band bassist Berry Oakley. Local favorites include the Dr. Dave Band and Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones.
In between sets and stone crabs, visit the kids’ zone and local artists’ displays.
The festival is at Swordfish Grill & Tiki Bar, 4628 119th St. W. in Cortez, Marker 49 by boat. Parking is available at the FISH Preserve at 116th Street West, with shuttles to the festival.