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Get ready to read IN PICTURES: ORIGINAL MARATHON SEAFOOD FESTIVAL’S RETURN EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS - Florida Keys Weekly Newspapers
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we had all been waiting for. Marathon’s largest annual event returned in force as the 46th Original Marathon Seafood Festival resumed its rightful place at the…
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we had all been waiting for.
Marathon’s largest annual event returned in force as the 46th Original Marathon Seafood Festival resumed its rightful place at the Marathon Community Park on March 12 and 13. A product of the Marathon Chamber of Commerce and the Marathon chapter of the Organized Fishermen of Florida, the two-day party saw thousands of visitors from around the globe come together after a one-year hiatus to enjoy a weekend of shopping, games, spot-on entertainment, drinks and, of course, signature Keys seafood.
With well north of 100 vendors who persevered through an untimely and surprisingly powerful squall line on Saturday afternoon, the fields became a bustling marketplace for artists, businesses and community organizations, while a boat show greeted attendees at the entrance. “A few of our vendors reported having their best show ever,” said Chamber of Commerce accounting and events manager Jeanine D’Amico. “Even with the weather forcing some vendors to close early Saturday, they broke record sales in the first half of the day and did even better on Sunday.”
“The festival was as successful as we could have hoped,” said Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Samess. “I think people were excited to be back outside at one of the best events in the Keys, and it showed. We probably had one of the best Sundays ever, and we are excited to start donating monies from the event to local charities, organizations and causes that help make Marathon a great place to live.”
Surprisingly warm temperatures were tempered by consistent winds, providing a perfect outdoor atmosphere to enjoy fan favorite bands like the Red Elvises, The Rock Show, and The Southern Blood Band. Man, it’s good to be back.
Photos by Sandra Lee Photography
Photos by Alex Rickert and Patti Childress
Founded by a group of commercial fishermen back in 1976, the fest is a celebration of Marathon’s commercial fishing industry and local spirit. Top Ten Ways to Embarrass Yourself at the Seafood Festival 10. Pronounce “conch” like “launch.” 9. Haggle with the vendors as if you’re on “The Price is Right.” 8.
28-03-2022 · 2 days ago · marathon weekly 305.743.0844 9709 overseas hwy olde towne centre marathon, fl 33050. upper keys weekly 305.363.2957 91760 overseas highway tavernier fl 33070. key west weekly 305.453.6928 305.509.7347 5450 macdonald avenue, no. 5 key west, fl 33040
By Adriana Abreu
The Morada Way Arts & Cultural District in Islamorada saw many independent vendors for the 5th annual Islamorada Seafood Fest & Art Show on March 20. Vendors sold everything from jean jackets to jewelry, and of course, seafood from many local restaurants. Visitors came out to enjoy the flavors and festivities, drink their favorite local beer, as usual, and to support Moose Lodge Charities, as well as a few others including Mother Ocean Fund. The event closed out with an impressive street parade from a renowned Bahamian junkanoo.
2 hours ago · OG t-shirt: An inaugural seafood festival T-shirt from 1976 is a rare find in Marathon.Which makes it even more incredible that Tom Tierney picked one up for himself in a thrift shop more than 200 miles away – and paid his first visit to the festival because of it.
11-03-2022 · The next year Bennett surprised me and put my newborn daughter’s name on the lobster boat that was on the 2012 event T-shirt. It was such an amazingly thoughtful gesture of him. So yeah, I f*****g love that guy!-Daniel Samess, CEO of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce. Saturday, March 12 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, March 13 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Remembered as the “last big event” in Marathon before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world in 2020, the anticipation has never been greater for the return of the 46th Original Marathon Seafood Festival. Given that we all had to survive without the festival for two whole years, Keys Weekly caught up with a few of the folks responsible for putting the weekend together to ask about their fondest memories from one of Marathon’s most iconic events.
“I’d have to say my favorite part of the Seafood Festival is how it is such a fun locals’ weekend. The energy is great and everyone is just there to hang out and have a good time. I’m really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces since we moved away from the Keys in August. I’m still playing my same role in organizing the event, but doing it while traveling in our RV. I’m also looking forward to having my 1-year-old son Luke experience his first Marathon Seafood Festival!
-Jeanine D’Amico, Chamber of Commerce accounting and events manager
This is my fourth year in charge of Seafood Festival volunteers, and I’ve gotten to meet so many new people. My volunteers are so heartwarming. I am absolutely honored to have so many people who not only want to help our community, but love to find out how I’m doing as well. They certainly make me feel special!
– Erika Goodman, Chamber of Commerce Office Manager & Sales Coordinator
“This happened back at the Seafood Festival in 2002, during my first term as Marathon mayor. Clarence Clemons had been hanging around Marathon to fish with his buddy, Capt. Diego Cordova. Clarence was at the festival jamming with Jen and Diego; I’m pretty sure I played the festival that year as well. When we were introduced, Clarence said, ‘You’re the mayor? And a musician? This is a f*****g cool town!’ Clarence bought a house on Stirrup Key not long after that.”
-John Bartus, Marathon mayor & Seafood Festival musician
When I first came onto the scene as the Marathon Chamber CEO in 2007, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I had to prove myself to our event partners, the Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF). Commercial fishing captains are no joke, and no one works harder and has more passion in their profession and industry. We had some titans serving on our seafood festival committee back then. The two patriarchs were Tommy Coppedge (R.I.P. Tommy) and Bennett Orr, who had been around since they founded the event back in 1976.
It must have been my third year with the chamber and the event. By then, the crew knew me well and we all had a great mutual respect and appreciation for one another. If you knew Bennett, you knew he always spoke his mind and didn’t mince words. One thing Bennett took great pride in was hanging his OFF sponsor banners around the community park prior to the festival each year. I also had a bunch of sponsor banners from chamber members to hang up as well, so I thought nothing of “relocating” a few of Bennett’s banners that year.
Later that day, Bennett walked up to me. He had that look and I already knew! He then proceeded to ream me out. Let’s just say I wouldn’t have wanted my daughters to hear what was being said. I stood there and took the verbal lashing, waiting for Bennett to get it all out. When he finished, I calmly asked, ‘Are you done? Can I talk now?’
He said, “Yeah, I’m f*****g done!” I then proceeded to tell him I was sorry for moving his banner, and after a pause for effect, I added, “I love you, Bennett. I can’t get mad at you, because I love you, man.”
Bennett then said to me, “Well, why the hell would you say that to me?” He literally had nothing else to say. The truth was, and is, that I do love Bennett. He has a heart of gold and cares so much about the Seafood Festival. When our conversation ended all was fine, but I got such a kick out of his reaction and response, and while my reply was meant to be a bit funny and diffuse the situation, I wasn’t lying.
The next year Bennett surprised me and put my newborn daughter’s name on the lobster boat that was on the 2012 event T-shirt. It was such an amazingly thoughtful gesture of him. So yeah, I f*****g love that guy!
-Daniel Samess, CEO of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce
Saturday, March 12
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, March 1311 a.m. to 5 p.m. admission
(Kids 12 and under are free)
ParkingStanley Switlik Elementary, 3400 Overseas Hwy. and neighboring lots (wherever else you can find it!)
Handicapped parking available inside the park
Florida lobster · Stone crab · mahi-mahi · oysters · shrimp · conch fritters · crab cakes · smoked fish dip · conch salad · Cuban croquettes · burgers · hot dogs · sausages
Live MusicSaturday: Jade Storm · I-Land Vibe · Caribe · The Red Elvises · The Rock Show!
Sunday: Brian Roberts · The Lady A Blues Band · The Southern Blood Band
04-06-2021 · Taine, a Libra and Louisiana native, is a tour guide for Yes, Queen!, a drag queen pub crawl departing weekly from Aqua Nightclub. The Yes Queen! tour originated in Savannah, Georgia and has recently expanded its stilettoed self to Las Vegas and Key West. Taine was a natural fit for the role of crawl guide.
On a rainy Saturday night, a towering vision in an emerald gown leads a line of revelers down Duval Street. Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” falls out of her rolling speaker. A loose street party forms in her wake, as followers and spectators alike sing along badly, dance joyfully and bow to the jewel-toned majesty that is Miss Puddin Taine.
Taine, a Libra and Louisiana native, is a tour guide for Yes, Queen!, a drag queen pub crawl departing weekly from Aqua Nightclub. The Yes Queen! tour originated in Savannah, Georgia and has recently expanded its stilettoed self to Las Vegas and Key West. Taine was a natural fit for the role of crawl guide. “I’ve always been known as a good time Sally. I was like, ‘Pretty much you want me to take people out, have cocktails and entertain them?’ I treat this like our own little parade.” Taine hails from New Orleans, a city that may not have invented the parade but has inarguably perfected it. She is a veteran of the New Orleans Drag Workshop and counts Crescent City legend Vinsantos DeFonte as her dragmother. In 2019 Taine was crowned Queen of Armeinius, New Orleans’ premiere gay Mardi Gras Krewe. She’s also featured in Poppy Tooker’s cult New Orleans cookbook, “Drag Queen Brunch.”
Taine began her life of drag as a toddler, “I started stealing my cousin’s dance costumes when I was 4 years old. They had sequins and feathers and I was obsessed.” Her fanciful nom de drag was inspired in part by a dog groomer she knew as a child. “Her name was Puddin. She had a purple Winnebago and a long braid and chain-smoked and was just such a character. We would get our dog back and she would smell like cheap cigarettes and dog shampoo.”
Drag has taken Puddin Taine from New Orleans to Provincetown, where she was named 2018 Showgirl of the Year, to Key West. “I’m on the Tennessee Williams trail. He had good taste in where to live. He’s very much my role model. I love that his work is still as jaw-droppingly outrageous as it was when it was written.” Taine herself moonlights as a writer. She’s currently developing a one-woman show that explores the theme of heaven and hell. She keeps busy raising the latter on Friday evenings at the 801 Cabaret and on select weekend nights leading tours for Yes, Queen! Taine shares guide duties with fellow local queens Elle Taylor, Blue Diamond and Beatrix Dixie.
Taine’s tour includes a highly entertaining, albeit bastardized, version of Key West history (the Curry Mansion is described as the island’s first Indian restaurant) and a heavily discounted shot or specialty cocktail at every stop on the journey. Drinking is encouraged, as is self-control. As Taine sternly warns, “I’m not your momma. If you’re hammered and we lose you at the hot dog stand, that’s on you.”
Sensible choices are a hallmark of Taine’s. “Honey, I wear comfortable shoes. Straight people have no idea what it’s like to be in six-inch heels. We’re having cocktails on this tour and there’s this thing called gravity. I would hate for Puddin Taine to come tumbling down.” Standing ovations are in order when the tour culminates in Taine’s performance at General Horseplay. It must be seen to be believed.
Taine welcomes the seasoned and the unversed on her tour and to her stage performances. “Most of the people who come to 801 have never seen a drag show before. A lot of people who come on this tour have never seen a drag queen. You go easy on them their first time. It’s an initiation.”
That initiation, aided by booze and the vocal stylings of Whitney Houston, usually evolves into fast friendship. “It’s always so much fun to watch people go from being a little shy or scared to at the end they’re ready to take me home for Thanksgiving.”
Having found a home of her own in Key West, Taine is dedicated to the protection and celebration of the island’s LGBTQ community. Where does she observe room for expansion? “I want to see more dance parties in Key West. I am such a believer in the dance floor and the absolute magic that can happen there, in the spiritual experience that can take place. Right now, we’re not partying to our potential.”
Dance party deficits aside, Taine is happy to be at the end of the road and a new beginning of her own. “I love living in Key West and working with the 801 Cabaret. My favorite thing about this island is that most of the bars serve rosé and you can smoke everywhere. I’m so absolutely grateful that I ended up here and have been welcomed with such open arms.” We’ll drink to that.
For more information and to book a tour visit www.yesqueentour.com/key-west
18-11-2021 · In the wake of racist graffiti left on a Marathon High School water fountain, the Monroe County School District faced questions about how to resolve an environment at MHS that one citizen described as “toxic and hostile.” In early September, a student wrote the words “white” and “colored” above two adjacent MHS water fountains, a […]
In the wake of racist graffiti left on a Marathon High School water fountain, the Monroe County School District faced questions about how to resolve an environment at MHS that one citizen described as “toxic and hostile.”
In early September, a student wrote the words “white” and “colored” above two adjacent MHS water fountains, a reference to the days of racial segregation. The word “privilege” was later added under “white,” while “black” and “negro” were inscribed under “colored.”
Speaking in the citizen input section of the Nov. 16 school board meeting, 18-year Monroe County resident and parent Stephanie Scuderi criticized the district’s action to address what she described as “a symptom of a more pervasive problem.”
Describing an incident in which the same water fountain offender used Snapchat to share racial slurs about a student with that student’s entire class, Scuderi told the board that “the (targeted) student and the family still bear feelings of shame, disrespect and lack of belonging within a community they themselves grew up in.” She informed the board that the incident prompted the family to consider leaving the Keys in order to “find a better community.”
Scuderi went on to challenge the extent of the school’s response to related issues. “There is a very real perception out there that matters of this nature get swept under the rug,” said Scuderi. “Overcoming that perception is just one challenge for the school district.”
“We need to find a way to infuse a base level of kindness and respect,” she continued. “Meanness, deliberate acts of unkindness and disrespect, these are actions born solely out of ill will. To deny the intended offense is to pull the wool over our own eyes.”
Superintendent Theresa Axford told the board that the district is taking the situation “very seriously.”
Axford went on to describe a campaign to be launched in the near future at MHS, titled “We Don’t Talk Like That Here.” “The intention,” she said, “is to avoid any kind of inappropriate speech that features bigotry, racial profiling, homophobia, name calling, all of those things that make people feel hurt or ridiculed.”
Axford cited the COVID-19 pandemic and popular music with “quite horrific” lyrics as factors that impacted and divided students over periods of virtual schooling and split schedules. “Students haven’t had the opportunity to interact with one another or have that continuous growth that occurs when they work in classrooms and with teachers,” she said. “They’ve gotten into camps, and in those camps there is some inappropriate speech and discussion about others that’s been going on.”
The district has worked to create a more standardized baseline consequence for similar future issues, beginning with a two-day out-of-school suspension. “If you do things outside on your own it may be different, but in school there is appropriate speech, and everybody has to honor and recognize that,” said Axford. “School requires civility.”
Board chair John Dick cautioned against giving too much weight to mitigating factors. “We can come up with excuses and COVID is this and COVID is that, but it’s too important of an issue, and it’s completely unacceptable,” said Dick. “You can’t let it sit at all. There have to be severe consequences to put a stop to it immediately. Maybe some of it’s in jest, but they have to put a stop to that completely too. I think the consequences should be fast and severe.”
Board member Sue Woltanski took Dick’s comments a step further. Holding up her phone, she stated, “these kids are doing it with this. It’s not like when we were kids and you were protected from the other kids at home. Some of the language of ‘We Don’t Do That Here’ has to extend to the cyber world after school.”
Woltanski added that most board members were not informed of the incident until after media outlets published their reports. “It was a significant enough incident and it occurred long enough before it was in the newspaper that this board should have been aware of it before we saw it on the front page of the paper,” said Woltanski.
“I do apologize that you learned of it in that manner,” replied Axford.