This year's Hudson Seafest will have all the traditional trappings: The famous grouper dinners and festival food, the carnival midway and rides, the vendors and live music.
But this weekend's festival will kick off today — Veterans Day — with a special tribute to the men and women who have served in the armed forces.
"If it wasn't for these people we wouldn't be sitting here talking so free," said Patti Boyce, president of the festival. "And we want to honor them because they deserve it."
The opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. will include the honor guard from Chester McKay VFW Post 7987, the raising of the American and POW/MIA flags and remarks by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, state Sen. Mike Fasano and others.
This marks the 26th year of the Hudson Seafest, an event that raises money for local beautification projects and charitable causes. In past years, the proceeds have paid for sidewalks, street lamps and landscaping in the old Hudson area.
Organizers haven't yet decided where this year's proceeds will go, Boyce said. They will pick a project once they see how much money is raised.
The festival will include rides and amusements for adults and children. Little ones can meet Dora the Explorer or ride a live elephant or pony. For the older and more daring crowd, there is a bungee jumping attraction, a rock climbing wall and even a giant hamster ball in which a person can roll around.
And of course there will be the full range of festival food, including grouper dinners with all the trimmings, bratwurst, Italian sausage, clam chowder, shish kebabs, calamari, roasted corn, Philly cheesesteaks, hot dogs, Greek souvlaki, corn dogs, sweet plantains, coconut and fried shrimp, fried clams, deviled crab, rum cakes and funnel cakes.
Visitors can walk off that belly full of food by visiting vendors and merchants with booths offering pottery, jewelry, Christmas ornaments and all sorts of arts and crafts. There will also be face painting and airbrush tattoos.
And of course plenty of live music.