Seafood Festival takes on the heat

Azi Carter, [email protected]

Seafood and good music kicked off the annual Pittsburg Seafood and Music Festival, which has ran for 33 years. The Pittsburg High School Spirit Squad opened the Sept. 9 and 10 event on the community stage while other band members volunteered on the grounds directing parking.

The festival has long been one of the keystone events in Contra Costa County, featuring lots of tasty treats. With chowder, gumbo, crawfish, fish and chips, oysters, mussels, steamers, lobster rolls, alligator-on-a-stick and more on the menu, there was something to suit every pallet.

Alligator was the hot item this year, with many coming from as far as San Leandro and San Francisco to savor a taste that is “like none other,” according Raziya Polk from Pinole.

Alligator enthusiasts could buy two kabob sticks lined with savory samples of the delicacy sold for $9.

“This is my fourth year since I’ve found out about the festival,” Polk said. “I save the date and look forward to the event all year.”

The festival provided a safe and enjoyable environment for the whole family, with a wide variety of arts and crafts on display, amusement and pony rides for the kids, jet ski demos, water slides and merry-go-rounds. Four live entertainment stages featured bands playing jazz, R&B, blues and funk, as well as vocalists, to entertain the crowds.

Temperatures soared into the triple digits Sunday, causing many event-goers to head for the two covered pavilions to get out of the heat. Volunteers armed with giant water bottle sprayers were misting the crowds down, offering momentary relief from the scorching sun. The beer pavilion was also an area of refuge from the heat, offering a place to relax with TV coverage of the NFL games and cool food treats like ice cream, chocolate dipped bananas, smoothies and snow cones.

John Javidan of Evpon, an event survey company, labeled the extreme heat as a reason why not as many people attended this year’s festival as did previous ones. Evpon offered an incentive to visitors to complete a survey: two round trip tickets for an all expenses paid trip to Disneyland, with a winner selected for each day of the event.

“This year’s attendance was way down in comparison to last year,” Javidan stated Sunday as he tallied surveys. “About half the number of people showed up.”

Other potential reasons include The Lathrop Bacon and Beer Festival, which was the same weekend and therefore cut into attendance via competition. As well as lack of vendors – many online reviews considered this year’s festival to be a disappointment because there were just half as many vendors than usual.

Genevieve Dace, a representative from Revitalize Yoga and Wellness, a local business on Railroad Avenue, felt marketing played a huge factor in the crowd turnout, suggesting that a broader outreach to include neighboring cities like Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Brentwood and Sacramento might have improved this year’s attendance.

Low attendance and high temperatures aside, many from the LMC community and beyond still thoroughly enjoyed the event.

“I’ve gone to the festival about 10 times now, my family and I always try to make it,” said Jessica Havelhorst, an LMC student. “I love sitting down and listening to the music and all the different bands that play and enjoying the company of friends and family.”

“It seems like there is always an abundance of fried food and not a lot of healthy fresh seafood,” she added, however. “There were a few stands that sold actual seafood, and the ones that did were super overpriced. Pittsburg used to be a town that exported lot of fish and was a fishing town. I would love to see an area dedicated to that in the future, maybe through the help of the Pittsburg Historical Society.”

As the festival came to an end, whole crabs and shrimp combos both went on sale for $10, and lines for funnel cakes increased as people lined up in drove for that last-minute take home treat. It had been a hot weekend filled with seafood and music, hot fun in the summer sun.