CLAWS CELEBRE: LOBSTER FEST
Is it sacrilege to say Maine lobsters are the crowning crustacean? That they beat the bib off Florida's own spiny lobsters? If you agree with me, this week is for you. On Saturday and Sunday, head for the third annual Tampa Bay Lobster Festival at the Kapok Special Events Center in Clearwater. Live lobsters are flown in from Maine for this festival with live music, crafts, wine sampling and a "Sweet Street" of desserts. Dinner includes a 1.25-pound steamed lobster, a side dish, potatoes, fresh lemon wedges, dinner roll and melted butter. $10 admission, plus $24.95 dinner. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. 923 N McMullen-Booth Road. (877) 476-8499. tampabaylobsterfestival.com.
AND THEN: LIQUID REFRESHMENT
It may not be the most traditional marriage, but after the lobster comes the Craft Beer Experience? Get your tickets ASAP because the 97X event on Saturday is known to sell out, because beer lovers can taste more than 100 craft beers with live music and signature food selections from downtown St. Petersburg area restaurants. $30, $35 at the door and it includes a commemorative 97X Craft Beer Festival cup. In addition to local brews like Tampa Bay Brewing and Florida Avenue Brewing, participating breweries include Kona, Magic Hat and Big Storm. 4 to 8 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7832. themahaffey.com.
PLEASE: MORE CHEESE
Competing directly with these events for your stomach space is the Manasota Grilled Cheese Festival on Saturday. It includes grilled cheese galore, with more than 20 vendors, from Maine lobster grilled cheese rolls, to Caribbean jerk grilled cheese, grilled cheese burgers, and grilled cheese Cuban sandwiches. Then indulge in desserts like dessert cheese donuts, plus coffees, smoothies and such. The event is a benefit for Wheels 4 Purple Hearts. The festival is pet-friendly, with a kids zone, DJ and live entertainment from Jah Movement reggae band as well as Reverend Barry and Funktastic Soul with the Hellacious Horns. Free admission, charge for food and beverages. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sutton Park, Sixth Street W and 10th Avenue W, Palmetto. (941) 587-8365.
CALLING: SUPERLATIVE SEAFOOD
The 35th Annual John's Pass Seafood Festival has announced its third annual Chef Showdown on Oct. 27. This kickoff event is a chance for local restaurants to prove they're the best and be named "Best Seafood in the County." Local chefs will do battle head to head in an effort to showcase their talent and their restaurant. It's open to all restaurants offering a seafood item on their menu. The all-star panel of judges will award prizes for "Best Seafood." Spots are limited to 12 participants. The entry fee is $100 and must be submitted by Sept. 26. Participants will be featured on the festival website and in advertising. Proceeds from the event benefit the Pinellas County schools, as well as a non-profit merchant's organization that advocates and supports small businesses and the Fishermen Lost at Sea memorial in John's Pass Village. (727) 322-5217. johnspassseafoodfestival.com.