History of the Placencia Lobsterfest
The Placencia Lobsterfest started in 1998 when a very small Placencia Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), which had formed in the 1980s, saw a need to create an opportunity to attract visitors to the Peninsula during the slow summer months. Former Placencia BTIA President Wende Bryan who stepped in when the organization was seven-member strong, planned the event along with the other BTIA members around the opening of the lobster season and the Placencia Fishermen’s Cooperative’s celebration of Fishermen’s Day.
That first Placencia Lobsterfest in June 1998 held near the Placencia fishing harbour by the main dock had just one table representing Green Parrot Resort located in the Maya Beach community in the northern part of the Peninsula. Chef Frank De Salva who is now the proprietor of Mango’s in Maya Beach, was serving Lobster bruschetta alongside former Green Parrot Owner Ray Twanow. The small gathering played two games to raise money for the Placencia BTIA: Cast Net and Reel in the Dinghie. In Cast Net, the player aimed to throw a fishing cast net over a shilling lying on the ground, with the shilling positioned in the very center of the net. In Reel in the Dinghie, players used a fishing rod to reel in an actual occupied dinghie to shore. With a few shillings and dollars in pocket, the Placencia BTIA pressed forward.
Later that year, Bryan who had moved to Placencia from Canada in 1991 along with her sister Denise Williams and opened Pickled Parrot Bar and Grill, organized a Christmas dance with Placencia natives, Martin Westby and John B. Williams to raise funds to open the Placencia Tourism Center. When the headquarters for the Placencia BTIA opened in early 1999, Bryan hired Laura Godfrey, current owner of Placencia Office Supply, to manage the office. That year, Godfrey worked with Bryan to organize the first Placencia Fishermen’s Day Saltwater Fishing Tournament, which was incorporated along with Lobsterfest weekend activities. The 1999 Lobsterfest also saw the first fundraiser t-shirts.
By 2000 and with the direction of former BTIA Director Elysia Dial, the festival had grown considerably with many more food vendors, games and activities.
To accommodate the festival’s significant growth over the years, the Placencia BTIA joined forces with the Placencia Village Council and relocated the festival to the beach front in Placencia Village. In collaboration with the Placencia Village Council, the festival now receives participation from approximately 50 booths where festival goers can taste a plethora of lobster dishes like grilled lobster, lobster pies, stew lobster, lobster fajitas and lobster pizza. The Placencia BTIA also organizes an annual Lobsterfest raffle, which boasts incredible prizes. A fully stocked bar managed by the Village Council and great live music made possible with the help of many sponsors create a summer party like no other throughout the three-day event.
In 2011, the Placencia BTIA decided to move the Placencia Fishermen’s Saltwater Tournament to September making it an event of its own and creating a new income opportunity during the slower tourism months. With lionfish threatening the community’s fishing industry, the Lobsterfest along with the Southern Environmental Association also started the first Lionfish Tournament during the Lobsterfest weekend’s festivities in 2011.
Update: The Placencia Lobsterfest 2014
Friday, June 27:
MEET THE VENDORS: See what’s dishing out at this year’s Lobsterfest & identify your favorites! Remember to vote for your favorite vendors participating in the Maya Island Air People’s Choice Award at the Placencia BTIA booth. Votes to be tallied on Sunday. Be sure to buy OFFICIAL LOBSTERFEST MERCHANDISE & RAFFLE BOOKS at the Placencia BTIA booth.
4TH ANNUAL LIONFISH TOURNAMENT: Win great prizes sponsored by OCEANA! $1,500 for Biggest Lionfish ; $800 for Most Lionfish & $500 for Smallest Lionfish. Register at the Southern Environmental Association Office by June 16. Call 523-3377 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. See the catch coming in at the Placencia Municipal Pier on Friday afternoon. AND, visit the joint Blue Ventures & Southern Environmental Association booth throughout the weekend for the full scoop on the invasive lionfish threatening Belize’s reef. Learn to clean lionfish & try samples!
LIVE JAM SESSION: Sip on a few cocktails & enjoy some cold brews as musicians from the Peninsula rock out their guitars to beach bar favorites from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
OLD MASTER RUM KARAOKE: Placencia bartenders’ #1 rum brings karaoke to the beach from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
EXTRA MATURE DANCE: L&R Liquors presents a dance party the old school Placencia Village way. Travel down memory lane with some longtime village favorites & and enjoy more modern selections from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Saturday, June 28:
FISHERMEN’S DAY FISHING TOURNAMENT: Celebrate Fishermen’s Day with this tournament organized by the Placencia Tour Guide Association and the Placencia Village Council (PVC). Contact the PVC Office at 523-3396 to register. Visit the Municipal Pier in the afternoon to catch the weigh in & wake up early to see the Blessing of the Boats!
BENQUE VIEJO MARCHING BAND PARADE & BEACH PERFORMANCE: Brought to you by the Belize Tourism Board, these 2014 Bandfest Champions will set the party sound alarm with an exciting parade through the village starting at 10 a.m. Parade begins at the Placencia Village water tower, continues to the Municipal Pier, loops around & ends at the Entertainment Tent where the band will perform the Belize National Anthem. Catch their beach performance at 3 p.m.
PLACENCIA HUMANE SOCIETY CHILDREN’S ESSAY CONTEST: Bring along pen & paper and get your kids writing! Essay titled “A Day for My Pet” is due at 1 p.m. Winner to be announced on Sunday. See flier on Facebook page.
SWEET PAIN BAND LATE NIGHT BASHMENT: Don’t miss the climax of Placencia Lobsterfest 2014 brought to you by Grand Sponsor Belikin Beer! Dance from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. with the hottest band in Belize playing thumping Punta Rock beats & much more! All bar proceeds at this dance and throughout the weekend support the PVC.
Sunday, June 29:
PANERRIFIX STEEL DRUM BAND: Thanks to Chabil Mar Resort, you can enjoy the sweet Caribbean sounds of the Panerrifix Steel Drum Band from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Watch these talented youngsters play regional favorites & even pop covers!
PLACENCIA LOBSTERFEST RAFFLE DRAWING: Top prizes will be drawn from the big blue barrel on stage starting at 4 p.m. Volunteer to get on stage & select the winning ticket from the barrel! Buy your tickets at the Placencia BTIA booth.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD: Brought to you by Maya Island Air! Winner of the best booth serving lobster will be announced at 5 p.m. Champion receives two roundtrip Belize City-Placencia tickets; Second prize winner gets one roundtrip ticket & third place gets two official Placencia Lobsterfest t-shirts. Be sure to vote throughout the weekend at the Placencia BTIA booth.
CULTURAL AMBASSADORS EVENING DANCE PARTY: Enjoy the latest sensation on the Placencia Peninsula! Award-winning artist Silas Sabal and friends promote Garifuna culture through music. The Belize Ocean Club sponsored party goes from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
SEND OFF WITH DJ RAS BE: Soak up the last bit of Lobsterfest fun with Event DJ & Host Ras Be, brought to you by SMART!
For more information visit www.facebook.com/PlacenciaLobsterfestBelize