The Cedar Key Seafood Festival is an annual event in Levy County that brings over 200 arts and crafts exhibits to the island, together with multiple seafood booths in the city park, as well as booths from local organizations, live music, a parade, and beautiful weather. This year was no exception, despite Hurricane Matthew devastating Cedar Key only weeks before. Residents pulled together and maintained the Seafood Festival tradition with a renewed vigor and expression of love for their community during the weekend festivities.
The Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County set up a community booth in the city park, which is where the hub of activity is for the festival. Lining the park are seafood vendors, selling delicious fried seafood from the area, as well as delicious desserts, smoothies, and steamed corn-on-the-cob. Visitors gather their tasty seafood dishes and sit on the lawn or at picnic tables, where they enjoy the sounds of live music and children playing on the adjacent playground while they watch the waves crash on the small beach.
The Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT have participated in this event for many years, and this is the second year that the festival has been designated as tobacco free, with two designated tobacco use areas for the artists and visitors that are away from the crowds. Several families that attended the festival expressed that they are happy that it is so family-friendly, and many of the adults that stopped at the tobacco prevention booth were supportive of the tobacco free festival policy. Many people that stopped by the booth were interested in seeking resources for loved ones to encourage them to quit.
This year’s Seafood Festival Parade was longer than ever, and featured several local school and civic groups with creative floats and enthusiastic participants. New to the parade for the first time this year was a Students Working against Tobacco (SWAT) float. The Cedar Key School SWAT members decorated their flatbed float with green ribbons and balloons and rode on the flatbed trailer, where they chanted and waved to the crowds while they threw out candy to the children lining the streets.
Overall, the Seafood Festival was a huge success, and the Cedar Key SWAT members were very excited that they had the opportunity to participate in the parade for the first time this year. Several SWAT members also manned the Tobacco Free Partnership’s booth and talked to their peers about Big Tobacco and the tobacco free policy for the festival, which they are quite proud of. The SWAT members estimate that they spoke with close to 1,000 people over the weekend and they are already looking forward to next year and planning a float.