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Six Top Caribbean Seafood Festivals to Sample

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Keegan’s Beachside Seafood Fest, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Keegan’s Beachside Seafood Fest,
St. Vincent & the Grenadines

“Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.” These lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is certainly true as far as thirst-quenchers go. However, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea that surrounds the Caribbean islands certainly are full of food. Hundreds of species of fish, plus crustaceans and sea snails like conch serve up a delicious bountiful fare. It’s no wonder that these foods figure prominently in national dishes. Think Barbados’ Cou-Cou & Flying Fish or the BVI’s Fish & Fungi. Seafood also stars at several culinary festivals. Here are a sampling to taste-test throughout the year:

August 6, 2019
Ocho Rios Seafood Festival, Jamaica
Fish, lobster, conch, shrimp and more, whether roasted, grilled, fried or jerked, are the star attractions sold in booths at this 12th annual festival that seeks to entice visitors by their taste buds. “The festival is a major part of the Independence celebrations on the island’s north coast and is a day of fun-filled activities to promote the parish of St. Ann as a premiere tourism, entertainment and culinary destination,” says Garwin Davis, the event’s senior consultant. “Ocho Rios was formerly a fishing village and a partnership with Fisheries helps us showcase the finest in authentic Jamaican seafood.” The festival takes place at Turtle River Park, and includes a culinary competition, best booth prizes, live entertainment and a children’s village. www.facebook.com/Ocho-Rios-Seafood-Festival

August 10-11, 2019
Keegan’s Beachside Seafood Fest, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Lower Bay in Bequia, at Keegan’s Beachside Hotel, Apartments, Cottages & Restaurant is this location for this annual culinary delight, which for 2019 has expanded into two days. “We celebrate with some of the finest dishes St. Vincent and the Grenadines has to offer, including curried conch, shark and bakes and Creole whelks, just to name a few,” says Keegan’s Sharon Stowe. Lots of fun goes with all the good food. There are beach games and displays of local Vincentian cultural talents in music, dance and fashion. For yacht captains, Keegan’s offers free pick up from and return to the dinghy dock in Port Elizabeth for parties of five or more. www.keegansbequia.org


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Flavors of CuraCao, CuraCao
Flavors of CuraCao, CuraCao

September 28, 2019
Flavors of CuraCao, CuraCao
Food, including seafood and lots of it, is available from some of the best restaurants, bakeries, bars and food trucks on the island. Each sets up a table in the parking lot of the Hilton CuraCao in Willemstad. The purchase of tokens enables visitors to buy any number of scrumptious samples. “The delicious array of food served at the Flavors of Curaçao will be complemented by music and exciting activities for the entire family,” says Gedion Verkerk, marketing graduate trainee for the event host, CuraCao Hospitality & Tourism Association. Proceeds benefit the island’s tourism programs. www.facebook.com/Flavors.of.Curacao/


November 30-December 1, 2019
Anegada Lobster Festival, British Virgin Islands
This clawless crustacean, better known as the Caribbean spiny lobster, is found abundantly in the shallow waters off this coral-rimmed island and is world renowned. Anegadians are adept at serving lobster in a number of mouth-watering ways. “Over the course of these two days, Anegada Lobster Festival patrons can enjoy Lobster Bisque, grilled lobster with butter sauce, curried lobster, Lobster Thermidor, lobster salad and lobster patties,” says Keith Dawson, public relations manager for the BVI Tourist Board. “Chefs at Anegada’s participating restaurants have years of experience in perfecting their lobster-cooking technique, ensuring that the meat is tender and succulent. Preparation of these lobsters is not hurried; they are prepared fresh. That is why restaurants ask for dinner orders in advance.” www.facebook.com/bvifoodfete/


Cayman Cookout, Grand Cayman
Cayman Cookout, Grand Cayman

January 16-19, 2020
Cayman Cookout, Grand Cayman
Staged at The Ritz-Carlton, on Seven Mile Beach, this culinary extravaganza is hosted by acclaimed chef Eric Ripert and brings together the world’s most talented chefs – including Jose Andres and Emeril Lagasse for 2020, culinary influencers and wine and spirit experts.  “The interaction that attendees get with our visiting chefs is one of the key components of Cayman Cookout every year,” says Maria Pineda, marketing communications manager. “Expect to be hanging out with the chefs at the bar, by the pool and beach– and of course at all the events! Events include cooking demonstrations, tastings and local foodie tours. Caymancookout.com


Oistins Festival, Barbados
Oistins Festival, Barbados

April 5-13, 2020
Oistins Festival, Barbados
Formerly called the Oistins Fish Festival, the newly rebranded fete traditionally held at Easter continues to honor the area’s fisherfolk and everyone who has contributed to the island’s fishing industry. The family-friendly festival includes plenty of food and drink, a wide variety of entertainment and several stalls selling local arts and crafts. “Many activities based around the fishing industry takes place, including fish-deboning competitions, net throwing, a fish cook-off and boat races along with the highly-anticipated climb-the-grease-pole competition,” says Keisha Springer, communications officer for Barbados Tourism Marketing. www.facebook.com/OistinsFestival/

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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