Key West Lobsterfest Is More Than Just Stuffing Your Face

Aug 13, 2013

Key West’s 18th Annual Lobsterfest wasn't just about stuffing your face with lobster tail.

Lobster newcomers and lobster veterans paraded down Duval Street at the lobster street fair, some wearing lobster hats collected over years.

Among the 200 booths, there were several lobster gear vendors.

Don Burge owns Mullet Wear Outfitters, which he describes as “a spoof and a goof on all the big fishing outfits.” He sells his wears at seafood festivals throughout Florida.

At Lobsterfest, he presented his new lobster design:

It was selling big in long-sleeves, popular among fishermen.

Also selling big was Ross Jones, a crustacean artist. Each year at Lobsterfest, he says he gets repeat customers.

"They get a king crab, and they want a lobster to go with it. Or they get a blue crab, and they want a lobster to go with it," he says.

As a diver, Jones began creating crustacean collages (see above) as a hobby to show people who couldn’t dive what the sea floor looked like. But he’s been doing art exclusively for the past six years.  

His process begins with getting the meat out of the lobster because "you can’t throw that away. Then I inject everything with formaldehyde and it gets the rest of the insides out. It dries everything up."

After the taxidermy process, he arranges the crustacean on a nice panel and finishes it with a glossy glaz. The piece is then ready for wall hanging.

The festival, however, does disrupt some Key West locals. A street musician, who only identified himself as Darth Vader, was unable to play his banjo at his usual street corner because of Lobsterfest’s huge stage, which featured several cover bands. He instead played a few blocks down, competing with the stage’s massive sound system.

With gear and art, stuffing your face with lobster was easy. Seventeen vendors offered many variations on lobster: fried coconut lobster, lobster tail with honey butter, lobster skewers, lobster roll salad, lobster mac-n-cheese, lobster grilled cheese, lobster teriyaki and lobster fried rice.

Over the weekend, 20,000 people enjoyed Lobsterfest and consumed 10,000 pounds of lobster.