Clambake Fest draws thousands for fun, food

SEBASTIAN – The choices are seemingly endless. Clam chowder, linguini with clams in red or white sauce, clam strips, steamed clams. Don’t want clams? There’s shrimp, sausages, hot dogs, pizza and popcorn.

And for many of the thousands who attended the Sebastian Clambake Festival Saturday, their very first decision was an easy one – start at the food booths.

“We’ll walk it off later,” said south county resident Kim Priest, who traveled to north county with her husband, Terry, for the food. They had a dozen clams, linguini with clams and the chowder. Terry got temporarily burned out on clams and switched to the sausage.

“It’s excellent,” he said of all the food.

Clambake Festival regular and Sebastian resident Durgadas Hutner said that this year’s festival, which continues through Sunday, is the best so far.

“The food is better, the weather’s better, and the crowd is bigger,” he said.

But for Hutner, the main attraction of the festival isn’t so much the food as it is the opportunity to meet new people.

“I love good food, don’t get me wrong,” he said.

The festival draws thousands upon thousands to Riverview Park over three days, bringing people from all over to visit.

Raymond and Jessica Grasso, of Port St. Lucie, chose to attend the Clambake Festival over the Pineapple Festival happening closer to home in Jensen Beach.

They, too, got caught up at the food booths, trying out the linguini with clams.

“This is as far as we got,” Raymond said.

The festival continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a kayak poker run launching from the lagoon at 10:30 a.m., a yoga demonstration at 11:45 a.m., and equestrian exhibition, and, of course, the Chowder Cook-off and crowning of the Chowder Queen beginning at 1:30 p.m. County Commission Chairman Wesley Davis will auction off the chowders starting at 3 p.m.

Live music will be performed by the Paddy O’Furniture Jazz Band and the Blue Fusion Band from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m., respectively.

Admission is free and tickets will be sold for $1 each for food and Clambake T-shirts. Vendors will also be selling their wares, which include everything from jewelry and glassware to home décor and woodwork.

The Sebastian Clambake Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, organizes the festival, and the proceeds are dedicated to local non-profit capital projects; to date the foundation has granted more than $220,000 to local charities. Volunteers comprise the entire labor force.

Six organizations will benefit from the event: H.A.L.O. Animal Rescue Shelter, Sebastian VFW, By the River senior housing, Sharks youth football, Sebastian Boys & Girls Club, and the Sebastian Soccer Association.

Information: visit www.sebastianclambake.org.

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