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Jun 26, 2003

Placencia gears up for lobsterfest

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All roads lead to Placencia this weekend where the annual festival known as Lobsterfest gets underway on Friday night. Since some of the News 5 crew may wind up there, we decided to send down Patrick Jones and Brent Toombs on a scouting expedition.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

Two years after the most devastating storm to hit Belize since Hattie turned their easygoing life upside down, residents of the Placencia Peninsula have rebounded. Today physical evidence of the horror they lived through that fateful October night in 2001 has all but disappeared and the popular resort area is again open for business.

Elysia Dial, Manager, Placencia Tourism Centre

“I think we’re up on our feet. We’ve gotten everything pretty well cleaned up, there’s new businesses going, people that did build back have built better, stronger. I think Placencia is going to be the destination soon.”

Residents of the quiet, coastal fishing village are hoping that Placencia will be the destination of choice this weekend for thousands of visitors from home and abroad as the fifth annual Lobster fest takes centre stage on the point. Gillian Eyles, who is one of the organizers, says there will be activities for everyone, among them the traditional fishing tournament, which starts bright and early Saturday morning.

Gillian Eyles, Organizer, Placencia Lobsterfest

“We have the people go out at around five o’clock in the morning and they’ll come. In we’ll have the weigh in on Saturday at four o’clock and on Sunday at one o’clock and depending on which fish is caught, you get your cash prize.”

Anglers will take to the sea in search of the largest Barracuda, Jack, King Fish or Mutton Snapper, the latter being plentiful this time of the year. And then of course, how could we forget the lobster.

Elysia Dial

“Oh no, this isn’t rice and beans fest, this is lobster fest. We learned the hard way one year that you have to make it a requirement for people to have lobster at the food booths and because of that, they’ve gotten really creative. Last year we saw things like lobster fajitas, lobsters fritters, lobster ceviche, lobster pizza, lobster lasagna. Anything that they could have put lobster in they did it in and it was great and I anticipate even more creative dishes this year.”

The three-day event is organized to coincide with the opening of the lobster season on June fifteenth and is the community’s way of honouring the men and women who depend on the sea for sustenance.

Elysia Dial

“This village traditionally made its living off of the sea with lobster and fish before tourists ever came here, you know, realized that Placencia was even on the map. And as lobster season just opened, it’s a way to celebrate the opening of the season and the animal that has traditionally brought so much income into our village.”

And while the adults will be enjoying themselves with Santino’s Messengers, Griga Boys and the local Inner Vibrations, organizers say children will be well taken care of, as the newly formed Placencia Women’s Group has made arrangements to entertain the kids while their parents party out front.

Elysia Dial

“We have a women’s group that will be taking the children out on the Placencia Point a little bit away from the real festivities, the drinking and what not and playing different games with them out there. The band that’s playing Sunday night is donating money back for prizes for them as well as our village council chairman and Wallen’s Market Limited, you know. So they have some prizes and different things for their games, I think they are going to do some swimming and races and what not, so we have stuff for the kids.”

Last year the Lobsterfest brought in excess of eighteen thousand dollars, most of which was used to rebuild the sidewalk torn up by Hurricane Iris. Chairman of the Village Council, Glen Eiley, says this year’s project for funding has already been chosen.

Glen Eiley, Chairman, Placencia Village Council

“We have little bit of mixed feelings, but our intent is to erect a Village Council office that would be shared also with the Water Board and that is one of the things that we set out from 1994 to establish, and fortunately this year, we firmly believe that we will accomplish that feat.”

With almost everything in place for the big weekend, organizers now have their welcome smiles at the ready and their fingers crossed hoping for clear skies. And from the look of things, the forecast is upbeat. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

The mountain bike race traditionally held the weekend of lobsterfest has been removed from this year’s list of activities. According to Eiley, the race will be held later this year as a separate fundraiser.

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