Cedar Key gears up for CLAMERICA

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By The Staff

Cedar Key will be exploding on Friday, July 4 when the fifth annual CLAMERICA Celebration brings thousands of clam lovers to this island community to enjoy their sweet and savory farm-raised clams.

Sponsored by the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association, the day will be filled with fun, food, and events for the whole family from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the City Park and beach on 2nd Street, so bring your blankets and lawn chairs and relax.

Cedar Key is a leading producer of farm-raised clams in the United States with over 100 million clams harvested annually from the inshore waters surrounding the keys.

This festival is an opportunity to celebrate the new industry, as well as the country's birthday.

Cedar Key farm-raised clams are featured on the menu and will be served in a variety of ways by community organizations.

There will be steamed clams, clams-on-the-half-shell, clam chowder and clam fritters for all of you clam lovers.

Other local seafood served will include smoked mullet and fried shrimp. For landlubbers, there will be hamburgers, hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob, watermelon, root beer floats, ice cream and more.

The festival will open with a children's bicycle parade and flag raising ceremony by the Tri-County Marine Corps League at 10:30 a.m.

CLAMANIA events will be held throughout the day - all of which are free. Prizes abound for clam bag races, a clam harvest-hunt, clam raceways, guess the clam count, clam lease (greased) pole, and a host of other children's activities.

Other featured events this year are a Sand 'n Shell Sculpturing contest, the Cedar Key News Kayak Free-for-All, and a golf cart parade.

The 5th annual Cultured Clam Cook-off will showcase a variety of clam recipes including local favorites, along with clam cooking and shucking demonstrations.

Think it's hot in July? A new event, the Clam Chowder Challenge for restaurateurs, will only make it hotter.

The public is invited to taste and assist a panel of judges in selecting the best. There's also clam farming exhibits and tours. Continuous live music, featuring Flash Point, in the park will be provided.

This year the celebration was selected as one of the Southeastern Tourism Society's Top 20 Events for the month of July 2008 (see www.southeasttourism.org)!

For more information, call (352) 543-6346 or 543-5057, or visit the website, www.cedarkey.org. At dusk, the city of Cedar Key will host the fireworks display.