TARPON SPRINGS — Men who live by and love the sea will share their lore and more as a new festival showcases not only the seafaring culture of Tarpon Springs but that of other Gulf Coast communities like Cortez, Cedar Key and Apalachicola.
The Gulf Maritime Festival, presented by the city of Tarpon Springs, will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Sponge Docks.
The maritime celebration is the brainchild of Tina Bucuvalas, former folklorist for the state and currently curator of arts and historical resources for Tarpon Springs.
She calls the nautical festival a "contemporary traditional cultural event" and seemed mystified that nothing like it has been done before in this area.
"We have such rich maritime traditions, living traditions carried on from generation to generation, that should be shared and celebrated," she said.
The working waterfront of the Sponge Docks will be a natural setting for performers, spongers, fishermen and others to share cultural legacies that have evolved among the sea societies.
They will be sharing stories about sponge diving, mullet smoking, grouper fishing, clam farming, boat building and the art of creating metal dive helmets and fishnets.
Then the night event
Stick around because when the festival ends, one of the city's newer monthly events, Night in the Islands, unfolds at the docks.
The two events are supported in part by a grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
Dodecanese Boulevard will be closed to vehicle traffic between Athens and Hope streets for both affairs so that pedestrians can mingle.
Entertainers at the maritime celebration include the Greek band Ellada, Kalymnian singers, country, western and Greek island musicians, Hellenic dancers and a tsabouna (Greek bagpipe) player.
Six restaurants from the Sponge Docks area will provide traditional fare.
• Nicholas Toth, a National Heritage fellow of Tarpon Springs, who crafts diving helmets from copper and brass.
• Philip Fatolitis of Tarpon Springs, a former hard-hat sponge diver.
• Wayne Martin of Blountstown, Florida Folk Heritage Award winner and highly regarded fiddler who will perform. He is also bringing bateau boats, used in the Panhandle and Louisiana.
• Taso Karistinos, captain of a working Greek-style sponge boat.
• Stuart Pacetti, Florida Folk Heritage Award winner from St. Augustine who weaves cast nets.
• Charles "Moe" Beckham of Cedar Key, small-seine net fisherman who smokes mullet.
• Bill and Todd Paskalakis, preparing kavourmas, a preserved meat dish that tastes like pot roast and was used for long trips at sea.
From 5 to 9 p.m., Night in the Islands invites visitors to dine and dance at the Sponge Docks. Odyssey, a local band, will perform.
There will be free instruction in tavli (Greek backgammon) and Greek dancing.
With a shot of ouzo or two, you should be dancing like Zorba the Greek in no time.
Have a Diversions idea? Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at email@example.com.