There are plenty of reasons to get outdoors and enjoy the glorious weather in Bradenton in early November. The Cortez Stone Crab Festival is one of the best.
The two-day festival, which is set for this weekend at Swordfish Grill in Cortez, is just in its fifth year, but it’s already become one of the most popular festivals of the fall season in the Bradenton area.
There are lots of reasons why. The weather is predictably nearly perfect (and there are tents set up on the off-chance that it rains either day), and live music from three stages plays continuously. Best of all, admission is free.
The Cortez Stone Crab Festival always attracts some of the best and most popular bands from the area. This year, 12 bands are slated to play from the morning until the festival ends. Acts include Terry Helm and the Jason Haram Group on Saturday and Twinkle & Rock Soul Radio and Nobody’s Fool on Sunday.
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In fact, even after the festival ends at 6 p.m, the music continues non-stop into the night at Swordfish Grill and the Cortez Kitchen.
There’s also a kid’s zone, local artists and a beer tent.
And, as the Swordfish Grill people put it, “stone crab, stone crab and more stone crab.” All of it’s just about as fresh as you can imagine, pulled straight from the Gulf of Mexico. There will be food vendors offering more than seafood as well.
The Florida stone crab, a.k.a. menippe mercenaria, has a small body but large claws that make for some of the tastiest seafood ever. There’s a seven-month harvest season that just started on Oct. 15. So while the festival may be one of your first chances of the season to partake in the delicacy, it won’t be the last.