SAFETY HARBOR — The Safety Harbor Seafood Festival, a traditional harbinger of spring, is back with its abundance of musical and gastronomical delights.
"This year we have continuous entertainment with great local and national touring bands," said Joe Cooper, the city's special events supervisor. "The Nighthawks (onstage at 8:30 tonight) are a national touring blues band playing throughout Florida, so we are lucky to get them."
Another notable, David Gans, who hosts a syndicated radio show, The Grateful Dead Hour, performs with his jam rock band at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Traveling food vendors will come from the Panhandle and Miami and as far away as Maryland to serve up seafood specialties, including crab cakes, alligator bites, crawfish, crab soup and shrimp every which way you like it.
Nantucket Bucket, a restaurant opening soon in Safety Harbor, will offer New England crab and shrimp nachos, shrimp rolls and fish tacos.
The waterfront festival runs from 5 to 10 p.m. today and continues noon to 10 p.m. Saturday. The setting is the scenic Safety Harbor Marina Park on Old Tampa Bay, next to the Safety Harbor Spa on Bayshore Boulevard and Veterans Memorial Lane.
Admission and parking are free.
Proceeds from the festival benefit the future Safety Harbor Arts and Music Center and the Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center.
More than 35 vendors will be on site, selling clothing, jewelry and a wide array of arts and crafts. A family area will offer crafts, inflatables, face painters and other activities.
Stop by the booth of Safety Harbor artist Stacy Roth, who designed the crab logo for the festival. The former animator and art director for a video game company in Orlando now spends her time painting whimsical Florida creatures.
Roth uses wood, palm fronds and even crab trap buoys that are transformed into parrots, sea turtles, flamingos, stingrays, sea horses and such. Each is about 6 to 12 inches long and sells for $20.
"It's art for your back yard," she says.