Fishing festival fun

Fishing festival fun
The festival features shrimp, clams and other fresh seafood prepared in a variety of ways. - Cindy Lane | Sun

CORTEZ – The 38th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival was filled with fun last weekend, from live music to pony rides to seafood any way you like it.

Warm, sunny weather attracted a large crowd that packed dining tables like sardines, enjoying shellfish, shrimp, mullet, oysters and other seafood, as well as Greek gyros, Southern barbecue, Polish sausage and other landlubber fare.

This year’s arts and crafts show suggested a trend toward environmentally-friendly jewelry and wall art, especially pieces made from parts of palm trees, including trunks (sailboat wall art), seeds (bracelets) and fronds (coconut fish tails).

And a new feature debuted – NOAA’s Voices from the Fisheries, an interactive display featuring recorded interviews with Cortez fishermen talking about a way of life that’s fading from the Florida landscape.

Wanda Jones Fulford, the widow of Blue Fulford, one of the fishermen featured in the recordings, was honored with the Pioneer Award. The Cortez native attended grade school in what is now the Florida Maritime Museum on 119th Street West at the east end of the historic fishing village. She worked at Tropicana Products sorting citrus fruit, said Jane von Hahmann, one of the organizers of the festival, which is sponsored by FISH, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage.

Wanda made smoked mullet spread famous decades ago, von Hahmann said, congratulating her for a “simple life well lived.”

“I sure am enjoying this today,” Fulford said to applause, adding that she doesn’t get out much at her age. “I enjoy all you people out here.”

Von Hahmann presented the FISH Community Service award to volunteer John MacDonald, another Cortez native, who said he helps out in the village because it’s important to record history.

Once it’s gone, “We can’t get it back,” von Hahmann said.

The Business Community Service Award went to Karen Bell of Star Fish Co., which provides food for several Cortez events, including the annual Cortez Natives Picnic, which is open to the public, von Hahmann said.

Bayshore High School student Matthew Kurutz and Boy Scout Troop 76 were recognized for their work building foot bridges in the FISH Preserve, which is funded by festival proceeds.

Once it’s gone, “We can’t get it back,” von Hahmann said.

Von Hahmann presented the FISH Community Service award to volunteer John MacDonald, another Cortez native, who said he helps out in the village because it’s important to record history.

The Business Community Service Award went to Karen Bell of Star Fish Co., which provides food for several Cortez events, including the annual Cortez Natives Picnic, which is open to the public, von Hahmann said.

Bayshore High School student Matthew Kurutz and Boy Scout Troop 76 were recognized for their work building footbridges in the FISH Preserve, which is funded by festival proceeds.