RUSKIN – Organizers of the 27th annual Ruskin Seafood Festival reported this year’s two-day event as record-breaking on all levels.
“It was incredible,” said Melanie Morrison, executive director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event. “We had the highest attendance ever, most revenue, longest duration of stay, warmest weather – you name it.”
Morrison estimated the crowd at 30,000.
She attributed the event’s success to an energized festival committee, “incredible” weather, great entertainment and the festival’s family-focus on food and attractions for all.
“The reason we host the Ruskin Seafood Festival each year is to bring our community together and also bring the outside in to share South Shore’s wonderful resources,” she said. “Our community’s best are at center stage for two entire days.”
Lisa Trant, of Riverview, visited for the first time this year and liked what she found.
“I think it’s fantastic,” she said, polishing off a crabcake and sharing it with her pet, Mr. Wilson. “I love how it’s spread out and there’s plenty of room. They say they’re dog friendly and they mean it.
Trant said she found having to buy sea bucks a bit annoying but otherwise was thoroughly impressed.
One-hundred business, arts and craft and nonprofit exhibitors participated in the festival. The Guppies R Guppies children’s area, sponsored by Amazon, was a popular draw, Morrison said. It featured a pony and petting zoo, Jumbo the Pirate, reverse bungee jumping, hamster balls, Paleo Preserve fossil exhibit and more. This year’s entertainment included Kosmic Pearl, Randy McNeeley Band, singer Matt Billor, Fleetwood Max tribute band, Latin artist Joe Zuniga and Spy vs. Spy.