This week the 21st annual Placencia Lobsterfest gets underway in Placencia, Belize. Local resident Gary Peterson talks about how the Lobsterfest has evolved over the years and what to look forward to this year. Lobster pizza, anyone? This article contains a link (or links) to Amazon, from which, as an Amazon Associate, this website will earn a small commission if you make any purchases.
Since its inception in 1998, the Placencia Lobsterfest in Belize has grown exponentially.
Originally created to boost the local economy and celebrate the start of the lobster fishing season, the first Lobsterfest had one table, made up of representatives from the Maya Beach community and the Green Parrot Resort.
It was a quiet event, with lobster bruschetta and some simple carnival games. The proceeds went to the Placencia Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA).
Two years later, the Placencia Lobsterfest stretched down the beach to the Barefoot and Tipsy Tuna, two beach bars subject to a continuing debate over which one is better. In attendance were many local artisans and lots of visitors, both foreign and local.
Today an international crowd of visitors enjoys well over sixty booths and the Placencia Lobsterfest is a big deal.
Dressing up as a lobster is the norm, with lobster hats and costumes everywhere. Reggae pounds out onto the streets from homes and businesses, and beer and rum flow like water as everyone parties in the street.
And it’s not just about the lobster, either. Over the years the Placencia Lobsterfest has grown and added events.
The Belikin beer-drinking contest, the rubber duck race, and the tug-o-war all attract eager participants. And then there’s the fishing.
Placencia was always a fishing village, and fishing competitions are a big part of life around here and feature in the Lobsterfest.
Anglers can also show off their skills with a net-casting competition on the beach where they toss a weighted net to pick up a coin. It might look easy, but this takes practice and skill.
Southern Belize is famous for its fly-fishing, where accuracy is everything. Another exciting event comprises landing your fly in the center of a small circle drawn in the sand.
Oh – and as this a lobster celebration, there is also a contest for the “Biggest Lobstah”.
Food-wise, what you can expect at Lobsterfest is sweet, spiny lobster, prepared a million different ways.
Lobster ceviche, lobster thermidor, grilled lobster, lobster kebabs, and lobster chowder. Grilled lobster, lobster pie, lobster fajitas, lobster burgers, and lobster pizza. Even lobster mac ‘n’ cheese is on the menu. If you can’t find it here, you won’t find it anywhere. Lobster omelet or lobster benedict for breakfast, anyone?
To add to the delicacies, you can also experience the pleasures of the lionfish served at the Placencia Lobsterfest since 2011.
Lionfish are an invasive species in the Caribbean, with a target on its back. We now enjoy lionfish competitions at the Placencia Lobsterfest as well as dining on this dangerous but tasty treat. The winner of this contest will have the bragging rights for the largest lionfish caught.
The Placencia Lobsterfest is about community.
In Belize, it’s community and family that matters most. The Placencia Lobsterfest is a time for families to celebrate that fishermen can go out to work again. They have an eight-month window before the season closes again in February.
Whether you’re living in Belize or down here for a vacation, if you love lobster then now is the best time to be in Placencia. And if you can’t be in Placencia, recreate the entire experience for yourself with the help of The Great Lobster Cookbook, available on Amazon!
*The Placencia Lobsterfest takes place this weekend, in Placencia, Belize, starting on June 21, 2019.
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Gary Peterson lives on the Placencia Peninsula, Belize, where he writes books about Central America and the Caribbean. Read more of Gary’s work on his blog.