lobsterfest1KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Melted butter is optional, but a taste for crustaceans is essential at the 14th annual Key West Lobsterfest scheduled Friday through Sunday, Aug. 6-8. The festival commemorates the start of the Florida Keys lobster season with events that include an open-air lobster feast on Key West’s famed Duval Street.

Florida lobsters, sometimes called spiny lobsters, are known for their sweet, tender meat. Unlike their northern cousins, the spiny specimens have no claws.

Purists savor them steamed, with each bite dipped in melted butter. They also can be baked and stuffed, served cold in salads or incorporated into dishes ranging from bisques to fritters to omelets.

The festival’s enticing “entrée” is the Key West Lobsterfest Street Fair, set for noon through 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, in the 100 through 500 blocks of Duval.

Lobster lovers can sample dishes ranging from tempting appetizers to traditional lobster dinners with all the trimmings. Chefs from as many as 20 local restaurants are to prepare specialties featuring fresh crustaceans caught by Florida Keys lobster fishermen.

lobsterfest2Attendees also can browse and buy art, crafts and merchandise from on-site vendors.

A free outdoor concert is slated to begin at 1 p.m. and continue through 10:30 p.m. from a stage at the intersection of Duval and Greene streets. The talent lineup includes top local and regional acts Alphonse, Bubba System, Cool Breeze and Techno Dread.

Other Lobsterfest events include a kick-off party Friday, Aug. 6, at Rick’s/Durty Harry’s Entertainment Complex, 202 Duval St., a Friday night Duval Crawl and a mouthwatering lobster brunch Sunday, Aug. 8.

The crustacean celebration benefits a scholarship fund for Key West High School students.

For more information, visit www.keywestlobsterfest.com or e-mail info@ricksanddurtyharrys.com. For accommodations information in Key West, call the Key West Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-LAST-KEY (800-527-8539) or visit the Keys website at www.fla-keys.com.

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