Whether it was a boat tour of the harbor or cracking open a sea urchin for lunch, Saturday was a day to try something new for the thousands of locals who turned out for the Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival.
The 15th-annual festival highlighted local fishermen and their catches, as well as the role they play in Santa Barbara’s culture and economy.
“The harbor is really the entree to the city, and it has a storied history going all the way back to 1930, and even before that,” harbor operations manager Mick Kronman told Noozhawk.
“The fishing fleet has been a cornerstone of that history the entire time.”
Lining the docks and walkways of the marina were a slew of local seafood businesses and pop-up restaurants serving up regional catches and all sorts of sea creatures.
A market on the west end offered a variety of apparel and maritime-themed arts and crafts and knick-knacks.
According to the city’s Waterfront Department, more than 100 fishermen at the harbor haul in 10 million pounds of seafood every year, which translates to $30 million for the regional economy.
Kronman said around 12,000 to 14,000 people typically turn out over the course of the seven-hour festival.
Between seafood bites, shopping and maritime education opportunities, attendees could take boat rides and learn how to pair seafood with Central Coast wines at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.
A variety of environmental and boating organizations also set up shop to offer information and educate attendees, including Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Santa Barbara Surfrider Foundation, the Santa Barbara Sail and Power Squadron and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“It’s just a wonderful day,” Kronman said. “It’s our favorite day of the year, being able to show off this facet of the Santa Barbara jewel.”