The Greatest Meal on Earth

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 12:00AM

That is how New Zealanders refer to the offerings at their seafood festivals, and we couldn't agree more. A beautiful plate of the freshest bounty of the sea cooked to perfection in an outdoor setting amongst hundreds of other happy diners? Who could ask for a more fantastic way to satisfy your hunger pangs after a day of boating?

We've gathered a partial list of the many seafood festivals taking place around the USA this season. All include an array of seafood dishes, and many feature live music, cooking demonstrations, arts, crafts, games, contests, and if you're lucky, fireworks. Make plans now to visit at least one or two on your Monterey, and don't forget to bring your appetite, for 'the greatest meal on earth!'

March 30-April 1, The De Soto Seafood Festival on Bradenton's Riverfront, FL, with Clay Walker, live.

April 14, The 37th Annual World Catfish Festival, in Belzoni, MS, One of the Top 100 Events in North America and Top 20 Events of the Southeast.

April 20-22, The Pompano Beach Seafood Festival is now on the beach, at the pier, in Lighthouse Point, FL

April 20 - The exquisite Las Olas Wine and Food Festival in Fort Lauderdale, FL

April 27-29, The Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival of Astoria, OR

May 4-6, Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Fernandina Beach, FL. This town on Amelia Island is “the birthplace of the modern, motorized shrimping industry.” This event has been named a top 20 event for the 10th consecutive year.

May 5, Crawfish & Shrimp Boil of Spring Branch, TX, with live Canjun music.

June 2, The Morro Bay Music Festival, Morro Bay, CA. Seafood BBQ featuring albacore, oysters, and other seasonal choices, plus a free waterfront concert.

June 28-July 4, The Boston Harborfest, Boston, MA, is a favorite yearly destination for 4th of July festivities, and July 1st is the 31st Annual Chowderfest!

July 4-8, The Greater Mandevilla Seafood Festival, Fontainebleau State Park, Louisiana. 20+ food booths featuring a variety of fresh seafood including original New Orleans cuisine.

July 26-28, The Copper River Wild Salmon Festival, in Cordova, Alaska, is a jam-packed weekend full of fun and festivity in a rustic fishing community in the heart of Prince William Sound.

Aug. 10-12, The Havre de Grace Seafood Festival in Maryland - One of the Top 10 Festivals in the USA, with the Marshall Tucker Band.

Aug. 18, Get Crackin'! at the Chesapeake Crab and Beer Festival, on the waterfront at National Harbor, MD

Aug. 25-26, The 21st Annual Seafood Festival in West Sayville, NY. Enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes and history of Long Island's great south shore. Bring the entire family to the historic waterfront Maritime Museum, and experience unsurpassed seafood.

Sept. 7-9, The 23rd Annual Hampton Beach Seafood Festival, NH, is a Spectacular Seaside Festival of 60 of the Seacoast's top restaurants!

Sept. 28-30, The 35th Annual Fiesta of Five Flags Seafood Festival in historic Seville Square, Pensacola, FL, with grilled conch, seafood gumbo, oyster croquettes, soft shell crab, coconut shrimp, Caribbean crab cakes, and more.

Oct. 5-7, The 2012 North Carolina Seafood Festival takes off in Morehead City.

Oct. 6, The Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival's 40th Anniversary event in Tom's Cove Park, with oysters, oysters, oysters...on the half shell, steamed, single fried, fritters, plus clam chowder, clam fritters, steamed crabs & more.

Oct. 20-21, Cedar Key's 43rd Annual Seafood Festival, on Florida's tranquil west coast.

Oct. 26-28, Last but not least, the 'New Kid on the Block' is the Naples Stonecrab Festival. This Florida seafood festival is a weekend of food and fun starring the stone crab. It’s also your chance to explore the beautiful Naples waterfront with activities on land and by water, with $1 water taxi transportation to major festival event locations.

Bon Voyage, and Bon Appetite!

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