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Venue change a hit for seafood festival and car show

By Staff | Apr 26, 2009

The Matlacha Mariners’ annual Seafood Festival and Car Show offered the community of Southwest Florida an opportunity to taste local seafood.
Thousands attended the event on Saturday after it was moved to the German American Social Club in order to accommodate more people. Wayne Reed, president of the Matlacha Mariners, said the club is overwhelmed with the amount of people who showed up.
“We had some numbers in mind, I’m not sure about the numbers now, but we are overwhelmed with what is here,” said Reed. “This is the first year we are doing it out here.”
In the past the seafood festival was held at the Winn Dixie parking lot on Pine Island, but as it grew each year organizers determined that it needed a new venue. While the crowd didn’t rival other large events hosted at the social club – such as Oktoberfest – in terms of sheer numbers, the club was pleased with the turnout.
“So far it looks like we are set up pretty good,” said Reed.
Big Papa’s sold blackened scallops, rice and coconut shrimp while a nearby vendor advertised “local seafood” and doled out gulf shrimp and smoked mullet. Many of the residents who attended the festival went from vendor to vendor tasting what each had to offer.
Tom and Jennifer Terrell stood in line tasting different seafood from each vendor.
“It’s great, we are going to try to go to each one,” said Tom Terrell.
They added that the fish at the festival tasted much better than a lot of other seafood because it was fresh.
Besides live music from local bands and activities for small children, the festival also hosted a classic car show. Dozens of cars from the last century lined up at the parking lot behind the German American Social Club.
The cars ranged from Camaros to Corvettes and Dodge Chargers to a Model T Ford from 1916.
Richard Fisher was one enthusiast who submitted his antique car – a 1968 black Corvette Roadster – and was buffing it on Saturday afternoon. People walked by and asked him about the car which had its hood popped to expose its eight-cylinder engine.
“This is the first year I’ve brought my car to a show,” he said. “We bought the car and have been working on it a year and a half.”
Reed said he was afraid that no cars would show up on Saturday because none of the car owners pre-registered for the event. Apparently they were waiting for Saturday’s weather report before they committed to the show. But on Saturday the parking lot was full.
The Matlacha Hookers also attended the festival to raise money for the Pine Island school and other local causes. Mary Ann Watson, a member of the club, said the festival is a great event for the community.
“It is an event to involve the community, they can experience local seafood and enjoy the area,” said Watson.