The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and city government hosted its 10th annual Harbor and Seafood Festival last weekend at the downtown waterfront in celebration of the local fishing industry’s bounty.

The free event featured local vender booths, a UCSB Marine Science Institute touch tank, a raffle benefit for the museum’s various educational programs and dozens of seafood entrées. The Santa Barbara Harbor houses over 1,100 vessels and contains a large commercial fishing sector.

According to Brian Slagle, administrative analyst for the City of Santa Barbara’s Waterfront Dept., attendees are hooked on freshly prepared dishes such as BBQ albacore, boiled crab and Brophy Bros. restaurant clam chowder.

“They’re getting it fresh, right off of the boat,” Slagle said. “They can have it cooked right on the spot; it’s from the sea and 20 minutes later you’re eating it.”

Fish aficionado Matthew Solt, who traveled from Kingsburg, Calif., for the event, said the fair allowed guests to experiment with more exotic delicacies including cooked sea urchin.

“It seemed weird at first and a bit frightening. The spikes throw you off and I’ve never heard that this is edible,” Solt said. “But I think it’s creamy, a bit salty and it tastes better than expected.”

Additionally, the annual event pays homage to one of the region’s most lucrative commerce, Slagle said.

“It has moved from a harbor festival in May and has repositioned itself to an October festival,” Slagle said. “This highlights the fishing industry, which is approximately a $25 million industry here in Santa Barbara.”