Por Georgina Cruz
For AL DIA TODAY
According to Napoleon, armies “march on their stomachs,” and I think travelers do to. And for travelers who are hungry, Florida is the place to be as, in addition to an abundance of wonderful restaurants and bistros, our state serves up a variety of food festivals at various times of the year. These events feature all kinds of yummies typically alongside music, crafts and other fun activities, as well as, in many cases, an international flavor. Many of these festivals are free or at nominal charge, while others charge for admission, and some raise funds for charitable causes. Always verify dates before planning a trip as changes may occur in the case of special events. If your mouth is watering already, you can bring an appetite to these upcoming ones:
· August 8-11 – The 23rd Annual Key West Lobsterfest celebrates everyone’s favorite crustacean with a Lobster Boil, Street Fair, music and more. Some events are free, others are ticketed. Info: https://keywestlobsterfest.com/.
· Aug. 29-Nov. 23 – The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in Orlando features 30 marketplaces with food and beverages from around the world. The festival offers special tastings, culinary demonstrations, chef appearances, concerts, family activities and more. Some events are included in the price of admission to Epcot, others are extra. Info: www.TasteEpcot.com.
· September 27-29 – The 40th Annual Pensacola Seafood Festival treats taste buds to a variety of dishes from carefully selected food vendors in downtown Pensacola. Visitors can enjoy foods such as grilled conch, seafood gumbo, oyster croquettes, soft shell crab, coconut shrimp, Caribbean crab cakes, and more. With more than 130 arts and crafts vendors, the Pensacola Seafood Festival is also one of the largest arts and crafts fairs in Northwest Florida. Also on the agenda are live music and cooking demonstrations as well as a children’s play area. Info: www.fiestaoffiveflags.org.
· Various dates and locations during October – Oktoberfest celebrations abound in Florida in cities including Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville, and typically feature German beer, food, music and folk dancing. Among the many celebrations is the 62nd Oktoberfest Miami on Oct. 11-13 and 18-20 at the German American Social Club on Miller Drive. Info: http://gascmiami.org/oktoberfestmiami.
· Oct. 1-6 – Destin, a town in the West Coast of Florida, famous for its seafood, presents the 41st Annual Destin Seafood Festival. The event offers fresh delicacies from the Gulf of Mexico at the Destin Harbor Boardwalk as well as plenty of live music and a family activities’ area. There is no admission charge to the festival, but donations are accepted. Info: www.destinseafoodfestival.com.
· Oct. 11-13 – Everyone can be Greek at St. Augustine’s Annual Greek Festival at Francis Field in Florida’s “Old City.” The festival, sponsored by Holy Trinity Greek Church, will showcase the aromas and flavors of freshly prepared Greek food and pastries. Costumed dancers will perform to Greek music. A portion of the proceeds will benefit charity. Info: www.stauggreekfest.com.
· Oct. 25-27 – The Naples Stone Crab Festival in Bayfront Naples and along the city’s waterfront features crafts, music and of course an abundance of succulent stone crab claws. Info: https://www.paradisecoast.com/event/stone-crab-festival/4368.
· Nov. 1-2 – The 56th Annual Florida Seafood Festival in Apalachicola, one of Florida’s oldest, serves up seafood, arts and crafts exhibits, seafood related events, and musical entertainment. Highlights include oyster eating and oyster shucking contest, blue crab races, cooking contest, parade, 5k Redfish Run and The Blessing of the Fleet. The festival is held at the mouth of the Apalachicola River under the shade of the oaks in Battery Park. Info: www.floridaseafoodfestival.com.