Every March, I look forward to the Original Marathon Seafood Festival. Now In its 43rd year, this affordable foodie fair, which takes place on Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10, celebrates the bounty of local fishermen with gourmet delicacies from the waters of the Florida Keys.

The 15,000 pounds (yes 15 THOUSAND pounds!) of fresh, scrummy seafood served up here is caught, cleaned and cooked by our local commercial fishermen who graciously prepare bushels of oysters and bags of clams from the west coast of Florida. Scores of community volunteers serve up generous plates during this “Fisherman-to-Fork” feast as local chefs showcase their talents using their favorite Key-based recipes.

Of course Florida spiny lobster, with beans, bread, butter, and coleslaw is a festival staple, and one of my all time favorites, but you can also indulge in other indigenous offerings like mahi-mahi, Key West pink shrimp, stone crab claws, smoked fish dip and a whole lot more.

Conch lovers (count me in!) can also have it every which way: as ceviche, chowder, golden-fried fritters or as bun-hugging “konkwurst” sausage. There are lots of landlubber offerings, too, including hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages with sides of baked beans, coleslaw, hush puppies and French fries.

Popular Keys entertainers rock the bandstand as well, along with more than 200 vendor booths, a Keys Artist Village, boat show and art exhibition.

Come eat your heart out on Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm and on Sunday from 11am to
5pm at Marathon Community Park, MM 49, Bayside, Marathon. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your bib! Info at 800-262-7284; marathonseafoodfestival.com.

seafood fest