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Cortez Stone Crab Festival combines seafood, music

Stone Crab Festival in Cortez

A crowd estimated at 5,000 took in the first day of the two-day Stone Crab Festival at the Swordfish Grill in the historic fishing village of Cortez in November 2015.
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A crowd estimated at 5,000 took in the first day of the two-day Stone Crab Festival at the Swordfish Grill in the historic fishing village of Cortez in November 2015.

One of the tastiest creatures that scurries across the ocean floor is the Florida stone crab. Stone crab is so delicious, in fact, that there’s an entire festival devoted to eating it.

The sixth annual Cortez Stone Crab Festival is Saturday and Sunday in the parking lot of Swordfish Grill.

The festival is relatively young, but it’s already become one of the most popular festivals of the fall season in the Bradenton area. The reasons are easy to identify. The weather is usually gorgeous this time of year, the seafood is super-fresh and fabulous, and the weekend is packed with live music – on three stages – from some of the area’s best bands.

This year’s lineup includes the Billy Rice Band, TC & Randy, Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones, Berry Oakley’s Indigenous Suspects, TH & C and The Kat Crosby Band on Saturday. Some of those same bands return Sunday, along with Jason Haram Group, Alowicious, Twinkle & Rock Soul Radio and the Dr. Dave Band.

The festival also features a kids zone and local arts and crafts vendors.

Florida stone crab is the real star of the festival. The species has a small body but large claws that make for exceptional eating. A seven-month harvest season started in mid-October. This year, Florida blue crab will also be on the menu.

Parking is available at the F.I.S.H. Preserve, three blocks to the east of the festival site, with free shuttles to the event. The festival benefits Fishing for Freedom in Manatee County.

Details: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 11-12, Swordfish Grill, 4628 119th St. W, Cortez. Free. Information: 941-798-2035, swordfishgrillcortez.com.

Marty Clear: 941-708-7919, @martinclear

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