A main course of piping-hot seafood, a side of sunshine and a dash of sea breeze made for a savory Saturday at the 30th annual Pompano Beach Seafood Festival.
The event featured about 170 arts, crafts and food vendors that dotted the beach surrounding the pier and musical entertainment.
New this year to the festival was a 4-foot-deep pool set up on the sandy beach where participants could try out scuba diving during a free, brief session.
The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Festival manager John Good summed it up this way: "We have perfect weather. Life is good."
Indeed, the sunshine poured in and so did attendees in search of platefuls of battered and fried, grilled and blackened seafood and other delicacies from the ocean. Coconut shrimp, lobster rolls, conch salad in a pineapple shell, paella and ceviche were popular offerings.
At Papa's Raw Bar, scoopfuls of a refreshing shrimp, conch and crawfish vinaigrette were doled out, but there were spicier treats.
The "drunken oyster shooter," a concoction of vodka, cocktail sauce, horseradish and oyster, offered those who dared a zesty kick. Nick Glaug's mouth couldn't handle it, and he was quick to admit it.
"The oyster hit the back of my throat and said no thanks," Glaug, of Boynton Beach, said.
His friends had egged him on to try the raw mollusk for the first time, but he wasn't discouraged. He said he planned to try other seafood. Three of his friends who tried the shooter raved about it and were ready for more.
"Obviously, we have some work to do," said Glaug's friend, Jessica Palis. "We do this out of love. We're going to get some beer to wash that down, stone crab claws, ceviche."
Whether it was heat from a spicy meal or the intense sun bearing down on attendees, Dayna Nunnery was serving "snowballs" at Nola Café to cool down palates and bring body temperatures down.
The frosty treat is from New Orleans and, unlike snow cones, the consistency is like that of a puffy marshmallow, she said.
"It's like literally scooping up snow and putting syrup on it," Nunnery said.
Beyond the food tents, a "boardwalk bazaar" featured crafty vendors, such as Evelyn Anderson, who hand-stitches statement earrings out of brightly colored printed fabrics.
"I love the sun and the colors, everything it reflects," she said of her creations. "It's always summer. It's always bright and beautiful."
Lenny Chesal, a drummer for the Low Tides, took a break after a set for a "heaven-sent" calamari and seaweed salad and shrimp cocktail. He said he felt lucky to have the seaside gig. "I'm looking out at the ocean, sitting behind my drums, cold drink in hand. Seriously?"
"It's all a marathon," he said. "It's a drinking marathon, an eating marathon, a music marathon, a fun marathon."
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