The annual Grant Seafood Festival, run completely by volunteers to raise funds for the community, drew huge crowds .
Deviled crabs, crawfish, shrimp and grits, fried oysters, lobster rolls, gator bites
Y’all, we’re just getting started. These dishes are just drops in the ocean of seafood and other fare that will be available Saturday and Sunday at the 54th annual Grant Seafood Festival.
“For us, this week is like waiting for Santa,” Robin Tibbetts said Monday. By the time the festival starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, she and other volunteers already will have logged more than 3,000 man-hours of prep work.
“As hard as you work, there is no better feeling and sense of community, sense of camaraderie, everybody comes together,” she said.
It’s an all-volunteer event, with no paid vendors, Tibbetts said. That’s no small feat for a festival draws an estimated 35,000 visitors, more than eight times the population of Brevard’s southernmost municipality.
Yes, it’s a lot of work, Tibbetts said, but it’s gratifying, too. The festival has raised more than $2 million in scholarship money for Brevard students.
Festival prep starts the first Saturday of the year. It gives Grant residents a sense of ownership and community pride.
“The kids in Grant know that every Saturday, you’re going to show up down at the festival ground, because this is your town,” Tibbetts said. “They paint, they pick up trash.”
The festival menu includes more than 30 a la carte seafood items, plus dinners of fish, hush puppies, baked beans and coleslaw. The seafood averse will find hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken nuggets at the Landlubbers Booth.
Tibbetts will be serving shrimp and grits and conch fritters with Bill Farina, who once owned a popular Brevard catering company.
“On the other end of our booth is the Sweet Puppy,” she said, describing the tasty morsel as a kind of hot doughnut rolled in cinnamon sugar.
Families man booths for multiple generations.
Betty Doles, 94, has been making deviled crabs at the festival using a recipe she revised back in 1990.
And anyone new to the town probably will get pulled into the volunteer pool.
“You’re not going anywhere if you live here, because the roads are crowded and you can’t get out,” Tibbetts said. “You might as well come volunteer and have fun.”
With mild temperatures and sunny skies predicted for the weekend, Tibbetts said it should be a perfect weekend to sample seafood, listen to music and escape to Small Town, U.S.A, for a few hours.
Grant Seafood Festival
What: A food and music festival
When: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, March 1
Where: Grant Seafood Festival grounds, 4580 First St., Grant
Cost: Free admission and parking
Also: The Grant Seafood Festival features seven musical acts, multiple food booths and arts and crafts. Money raised goes to support scholarships.
Betty Doles’ Deviled Crab Cakes
Yield: Depends on the size of the cakes, but a lot
1/2 pound margarine
1-1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons seafood seasoning
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups eggs, lightly beaten
7-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 cups chopped onions
10 pounds crab meat
In a large Dutch oven, melt margarine over medium heat to begin a roux. Add flour, seafood seasoning and cayenne pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the roux turns golden brown. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix eggs, milk and Worcestershire sauce.
In a separate bowl, combine onions and crab meat.
Return the roux to medium heat. Stir a ladle of roux into the egg mixture to temper it. Slowly add the warmed egg mixture to the roux, stirring continuously.
When the sauce starts to pull away from the sides of the pot, pour it into the pan with the crab meat and onions and mix.
Hand-form crab cakes and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes until the cakes reach an internal temperature of 175 degrees.
Supportlocaljournalism:Find offers for new subscribers at floridatoday.com/subscribe.
Read or Share this story: https://www.floridatoday.com/story/entertainment/dining/2020/02/25/54th-annual-grant-seafood-festival-labor-love-volunteers/4860744002/