Fall is here and in Natural North Florida, that means several things! One, it’s cooler and second, the annual Cedar Key Seafood Arts and Crafts Festival is getting ready to happen, October 19 and 20, 2019.
In the early ’90s, there was doubt that the city of Cedar Key would survive the official banning of gill nets used by commercial fishermen. Tourism was important, but took a second seat to commercial fishing, and the outlook was bleak. However, the city’s fathers, in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (then Marine Fisheries) and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences made an effort to educate out-of-work fishermen in the science of raising hard clams. Since then, Cedar Key has become the leading exporter of clams in the US, and has established itself as a leader in the art and science of aquaculture. Now, Cedar Key is all about clams, stone crabs and cultured oysters and celebrates their success with those products each year with a seafood festival and art show, in October.
Your drive south on Florida’s SR24 to Cedar Key is about 24 miles from the Otter Creek intersection with US19/98 (about 50 miles from Gainesville) At the absolute end of the road, after crossing several islands that make up the “Cedar Keys”, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Way Key, and “downtown” Cedar Key. That’s where the Seafood and Arts Festival will be held this month.
Cedar Key’s Island Hotel is one of the landmarks in downtown Cedar Key. Don’t miss the hotel’s bar, it’s signature hearts of palm salad, or its haunted rooms!
A meal at Tony’s is always a treat! It’s so good that after winning the World Clam Chowder competition three times, they’re not allowed to enter again!
While your stay in Cedar Key for the Seafood and Arts Festival may be a day trip, be sure to put it on your “bucket list” for a longer stay. You’ll find great paddling, fishing and just plain relaxing a wonderful break from your daily “grind”.