Revived seafood festival draws big crowd
SEAFOOD fanatics scoffed more than a tonne of prawns, oysters, calamari and fish for lunch yesterday.
Organisers of the Gladstone Seafood Festival said it was one of the most successful turnouts they'd had, estimating 20,000 visitors.
From the live entertainment, to the fresh seafood, ice-cold refreshments and plenty of fun for the kids, the return of the festival was perfect timing.
And it wasn't a seafood festival without a bit of messy fun thanks to the return of the Gladstone Region One Arm Prawn Peeling championships.
Broadcasters Paul "Browny" Brown and Rob Kidd were joined by Cr Col Chapman and The Observer's senior reporter, Mara Pattison-Sowden, and several members of the audience.
Julie Beel from Mt Larcom Café took away the trophy for peeling six raw prawns in the fastest time, while Mara Pattison-Sowden took out the trophy for peeling cooked prawns and making them into a sandwich.
Ms Beel said she was "stoked".
"I've never done anything like this before and I won!"
Reigning champion Mr Kidd said the challenge was easy, "but I got pipped at the last second", while Browny only de-shelled four prawns.
"My breath stinks like bad prawns. I've never done anything like that before, but it doesn't taste good," he said.
Cr Chapman said it was hard work and he found the prawns a bit slippery.
Ms Pattison-Sowden said it was a fun but messy event, and she was pleased to win after the broadcasters on either side tried to put her off.
"These boys play dirty, but you can't beat a good handful of prawns," she said.
Thomas Lamberton said he only got two prawns.
"That was hard," he said.
Gladstone Yacht Club owner Brian Dawson said there had been a massive demand for fresh seafood, which he had ordered from the local trawlers and seafood market.
"We were stoked with the mixed platters, king prawns, oysters, and bugs," he said.
He said he knew that next time he'd put more fresh prawns and bugs on the order list.
Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd tourism officer Karen Sweeney said they had up to 10,000 people for Celebrate the Sea and "we reckon we're at 20,000 today".
Ray Lewis, Gladstone Festival and Events president, said it had been a fantastic day.
"The community has come out and supported it, and it shows the community is proud of their event," he said.
"It is a festival and we're trying to get non-locals in as well - we want them to see what Gladstone has to offer."