SAINT AUGUSTINE – It’s the best yet. That’s the guarantee from Dominic Mercurio, chairman of the year St. Augustine Lions Club Seafood Festival.
This year offers the best arts and craft show in many years, the best musical lineup and a free shuttle service March 17 and 18, helping relieve the traffic problems in the oldest city, explains Mercurio, who has chaired the Lions Club fundraiser for the past 19 years.
Sponsors of downtown festivals have been required to provide shuttle for the Saturday event, Mercurio explains, and “we voluntarily agreed to run the shuttle on Sunday as well to help with the traffic.”
This year’s festival, at Francis Field on Castillo Drive continues from 3 to 9 pm. March 16; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 17; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 18. Admission is $5 for adults; children 15 and under free, and free admission, as well, to active duty military with ID.
Heading the list of entertainers is Grammy-nominated artist Valerie Smith, known as a country artist with music ranging from bluegrass and blues to gospel music.
Some 100 artists and craftsmen are expected to participate in this year’s event. Family fun includes a Kids Zone, with kiddie rides and a Spanish Landing featuring clowns, magic shows, a children’s drumline and a chance to meet popular characters – the Little Mermaid, princesses and the Minons.
Seafood selections range from traditional fish and shrimp to lobster rolls, conch salad, grilled octopus and crab cakes. For those whose tastes don’t include a hankering for seafood there will be barbecue and pizza,. To feed the sweet tooth desserts will be offered. All food will be available at a nominal donation.
Shuttles will be available, with free parking both Saturday and Sunday at the St. Johns County Health Department, 200 San Sebastian View, and at the north San Marco lot, 301 San Marco Ave.
The yearly Seafood Festival allows the Lions Club to support numerous local charities, says Mercurio, including 10 local food banks; free eye glasses and hearing aids for those in need, mostly children. Other charities supported include the Empty Stocking Fund, emergency services, the Homeless Coalition and St. Francis House. In addition, for the past two years, the club has donated more than $60,000 to hurricane relief.