The Saturday rain cleared up just in time for the annual 19th Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival.
All things seafood and maritime, the free community event showcased the ocean’s freshest ingredients. Food trucks and tents served up hot lobster rolls, fish tacos and clam chowder.
A delicious, smoky aroma filled the air as talented chefs used massive pans to cook seafood paella, one of the most popular food items at the festival. Festival-goers were queued up in long lines to taste the delicious combination of shrimp, rice and clams that melted in their mouths. This carefully crafted masterpiece was both a mouth-watering treat and a display of cooking showmanship.
Local fishermen displayed their specialties on ice beds for all to see as well. As stands for freshly caught crab, albacore and oysters snaked throughout the harbor, there was certainly quite the selection to choose from. Festival-goers could even pick out their own lobster from a plastic pool before vendors prepared it for take-home.
Sea urchin, or “uni,” proved to be particularly popular, with lines of customers waiting to enjoy its soft, creamy texture. Pierre Charest Golden Uni, one of the festival’s uni vendors, offered the delicacy to curious first-timers and longtime enthusiasts alike.
Dessert, of course, was also on the menu; soft serve and funnel cakes were a sweet and satisfying treat amongst a sea of seafood. A fan favorite was Pacific Crepes, which were light, fluffy and captivated customers of all ages. The aesthetically crafted crepes were admired by all before being quickly devoured.
Accompanying the food vendors were local crafts and goods sold in tents near the harbor’s entrance. From beaded jewelry to hats and clothing, shopping catered to all. One tent even sold handcrafted wizard wands, ranging in shape, size and color. Several of the vendors supported charities and notable causes. Mermaid Market reused traditional sari dresses to make quilts, while Hello Bag offered alternatives to plastic and paper bags.
A face painting booth and free boat ride excursions aboard the Kelpie with Double Dolphin Cruises also kept festival-goers and, especially, their younger children well-entertained for the afternoon.
Vendors weren’t the only ones with booths set up for the festival. Maritime educators and organizations, such as Heal the Ocean and Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol enthusiastically gave out information and pamphlets to those interested.
At the heart of the harbor, the event was completed with live music from Juan Dolor, Spencer the Gardner and Cornerstone. While their melodies floated across all corners of the venue, picnic tables around the main stage made way for an acoustic dining and dancing experience. Live painters later captured the felicitous scene with acrylic paint.
This annual festival brings together the colorful and diverse Santa Barbara community as well as welcomes visitors from around the world to celebrate a shared love of seafood and fun. Make sure to mark it on your calendar for next year!