MANATEE — Thanks to extra publicity from PETA, the 13th annual Terra Ceia Mullet Smoke-Off fundraiser saw a record turnout Saturday afternoon, organizers said. Hundreds came from around the Bay area to take part in the annual event that celebrates the heritage of mullet fishing in the area. Fish is smoked, contests are held to see who can cast their nets the best, and mullets are thrown in a cornhole type game.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested the latter.
“I think the protest was ridiculous,” said Melissa Langdon, one of the event coordinators.
Only a handful of fish are used in the toss and the remains are used to feed other animals, she said.
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“To me this is not what PETA does or stands for,” Langdon said. Although there was no PETA members protesting at the actual event, the organization’s name was on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
Some came to the festival because of the protest, such as Betty Crichfield, who wore a shirt mocking PETA that read, “People for the eating of tasty animals.”
“I think the protest is the stupidest thing I ever heard of,” she said. “I do think the idea of PETA is good, but they’ve gone too far.”
Although the toss drove people to the event, it was the mullet and other festivities that kept them hanging around.
“The mullet cakes are really good,” Leonard Aldridge said as he ate a plate.
Money raised from the event will go toward Terra Ceia Village Improvement Association.