Get Hooked Up The fall bait run is crashing and splashing its way along the Florida coast, with schools of mullet, pilchards, glass minnows, and other species being blitzed by sharks, tarpon, snook, bluefish, …
Foodie Paradise: Tarpon Springs’ Sponge Docks Seafood Festival
Mediterranean mussels, lump crab treats, specialty olive oils, baklava, kettle corn– and natural sponges to clean your fingers. Live music, street performers, and arts and crafts of all kinds.
All are great reasons to make your way to the Sponge Docks Seafood Festival Nov. 11-13 at Tarpon Springs’ historic working waterfront along Dodecanese Boulevard. Hosted by the Tarpon Springs Merchants Association, the event has free admission with free parking and free shuttle service.
“It’s about tourism and the local seafood industry,” said organizer Suzanne King of SIK Promotions.
The Sponge Docks have been a bustling community center since the turn of the 20th century when sponging– conducted mostly by Greek divers– was Florida’s largest industry. It’s where the divers unloaded and sold their catch and relaxed over dinners of favorites from their homeland such as charbroiled octopus and souvlaki.
The Sponge Docks have suffered ups and downs: in the 1940s and 50s, a blight nearly wiped out sponges in the Gulf. But new sponge beds were discovered in the 1980s and the industry recovered. Today, visitors can go on sponge diving tours, watch the sponge auction, and purchase sponges for themselves– AND enjoy some of the best Greek cuisine and local seafood anywhere.
The festival’s food court tent will be crowded with vendors from Tarpon Springs and around the nation selling $5 light bites on up to $30 full-course meals. Top local restaurants such as Tarpon Tavern, Paul’s Shrimp House and Costa’s will represent. Festival goers are sure to be tempted by Tarpon Tavern’s grouper skillet, Costa’s charbroiled whole snapper with lemon and garlic, and Paul’s bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with feta cheese.
For those who prefer turf to surf, there will be an ample supply of barbecue and sweet treats such as kettle corn, Italian ices and spiral potatoes.
Street performers and live bands will provide continuous entertainment as visitors chow down and shop for original art and handicrafts displayed by more than 90 vendors.
For more festival information, go to www.spongedocks.net.