Hang out the "Gone Fishin' " sign and head for the Safety Harbor Marina, where you can savor clams, crawfish, crab and other treasures of the sea — no fishing pole required.
The Safety Harbor Seafood Festival today and Saturday is a mecca for an estimated 15,000 seafood lovers who make the pilgrimage each spring. They come for the food and stay for the live musical entertainment and family-friendly activities, all set against the lovely backdrop of Old Tampa Bay.
Admission to the fish fest is free.
Food vendors will be cooking up an array of deep sea delights as well as standard landlubber fare. They hail from places like Maryland, Georgia, Miami — and Safety Harbor.
One of Safety Harbor's newest restaurants, Nantucket Bucket, will be serving up mahimahi tacos, lobster-based corn bisque and lobster rolls.
"The dishes will range in price from $3 to $5," said manager Heather Hildick.
And just when you thought it was safe to go back to the kid's zone, a mechanical shark will pay a visit.
"You ride it just like a mechanical bull," said Joe Cooper, the city's special events supervisor. "It's for adults and children, and the man that runs it controls the ride. The smaller the child, the gentler it is."
Children will enjoy the rock-climbing activities and inflatables. Free pony rides will be given, too (donations accepted).
Continuous music can be heard at the outdoor stage beginning at 5 p.m. today and 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
"We have a lot of rock and blues this year," Cooper said. "The blues bands last year brought in some new faces, so we're having them back."
On a sad note, Dan Toler of the Toler-Tucci Band and a former member of the Allman Brothers Band, lost his battle with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease) on Feb. 25. The band will play on, taking the stage at 8 tonight.
Arts and crafts vendors will sell specialty items, many of which are handcrafted, home cooked or homegrown.
Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Friends of the Safety Harbor Library and the Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center.