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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 10:10 am | Fair 54º


Santa Barbara’s Catch of the Day Is Annual Harbor & Seafood Festival

Fun, food and really fresh fish highlight celebration of the bounty and benefits of the ocean

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Seafood lovers found safe haven Saturday during the 13th annual Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival.

Thousands crowded along Harbor Way pathways near the heart of the harbor to check out the freshest offerings of live lobster, crab, prawns and more during the one-day event sponsored by the City of Santa Barbara, Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Harbor Merchants.

Harbor-goers were enticed by the smells of prepared dishes, including barbecue albacore, clam chowder, fish tacos, seafood gumbo and other savory fare.

Attendees could opt instead to wait in long lines to handpick live crab or lobster before moving into a second line, where volunteers cooked seafood on the spot.

“I have to stand in line with a live lobster?” one woman said in disbelief before turning away in the direction of other food options.

Purposefully coinciding with lobster season, the more popularly called Harbor Fest showcased fishermen as well as their catch, with 16 pots of boiling water for cooking near Navy Pier and Brophy Brothers Restaurant.

Santa Barbara sea urchin diver Stephanie Mutz couldn’t crack open her catch fast enough, as 700 live uni — still moving even after broken in half — sold like hotcakes.

A nice, sweet and salty flavor enticed customers, she said.

The festival was pretty much the same as every year, touted as the biggest annual celebration of all things harbor, Harbor Operations Manager Mick Kronman told Noozhawk.

“We’ve got more seafood than you can imagine,” he said.

Droves were drawn to arts and crafts vendors with jewelry, clothing, photography and other handcrafted wares.

Ocean-related agencies provided an informational and historical tone, outlining local marine resources and proper fishing practices.

Festival attendees also took advantage of Santa Barbara Maritime Museum films and exhibits, touch tanks, tall ship tours, free Double Dolphin boat rides and dockside tours, along with listening to live entertainment — courtesy of the Santa Barbara Harbor Merchants Association.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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