The 19th Annual Santa Barbara Harbor and Seafood Festival was celebrated Saturday for the first time since 2019. The festival lured seafood lovers to Santa Barbara Harbor for one of the community’s most cherished events.
“The misty weather did not deter the early birds from coming out and getting to the seafood as early as possible. The harbor patrol boats are doing their tours. I’m looking at a lot of people right now,” Chris Bell, PIO for the Waterfront Department of the city of Santa Barbara told the News-Press.
The festival celebrated the opening of lobster season while showcasing fresh, regional seafood in addition to live music, maritime education, free boat rides, children’s activities and vessel tours.
“I think it’s fantastic. It is such a great opportunity for our people to learn so much about the harbor and the resource it is. We have a working harbor where fishermen pull in seafood from the channel. Fishermen pull in more seafood than any other harbor in California. There is also an opportunity to learn and meet the fisherman,” said Mr. Bell.
The Harbor and Seafood Festival was an interactive day for visitors and locals alike, serving as a reminder that Santa Barbara Harbor is a working harbor where more than 100 fishermen land millions of pounds of seafood each year, adding $30 million to the local economy and beyond.
“I would say that we have a couple different demographics out here today. There are the hardcore seafood people that know the product and come here early. I have had calls for weeks now asking if the festival is still going on. People come from hundreds of miles away. The harborites are the community down here and they are very proud of it. It’s hard work. It’s a great community and they are proud to show it off and educate people about it,” said Mr. Bell.
Juan Dolor, Spencer the Gardner and Cornerstone played live on a main stage, while attendees perused special festival memorabilia, shopped for a variety of art, clothing, and other unique gifts and enjoyed free harbor boat rides aboard the Double Dolphin and Kelpie.
“There are young kids that are being exposed to learning about the sea environment and touch tanks where kids can see different species,” said Mr. Bell pointing to one of the highlights of the day. “I am seeing people with seafood already; there are people with plates of sea urchin and lobster. Every square inch is being used to eat,” said Mr. Bell.
The Santa Barbara Harbor and Seafood Festival was presented by the city of Santa Barbara Waterfront Department, Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, Inc., and the Santa Barbara Harbor Merchants’ Association, along with various community partners and volunteers.
“I would like to recognize the volunteers. This festival wouldn’t happen without volunteer support and our tremendous waterfront team. It is a tremendous amount of work. When you go into a lobster booth and see people cleaning lobster tails and cleaning out guts, that is volunteerism,” said Mr. Bell.