The Efland Seafood Festival is back on, albeit smaller, under the name Seafood Feast and not exactly as originally planned. Billed as a seafood, music and outdoor festival, COVID-19 cancelled the April 18 event that was planned for the Efland Ruritan Club.
Terry Rose, the event’s organizer, chief promoter and president of the Hillsborough Sport Fishing Club, said he felt the conditions were such that he believed a festival could happen even in COVID times.
“When we started to see people function with COVID, we started to feel like maybe we could make this work,” Rose said. “Life adapted. I don’t think people have to stay in their home anymore. They wear their masks, sanitize their hands, keep their distance and they go on about their lives. I’ve never missed a day of work on account of COVID. I’m an essential employee. If you do things right, I think it’s safe to be out here.”
Rose had poured thousands of dollars into marketing the festival that was supposed to happen in April. But once the shelter-in-place was mandated by the Governor, he knew the writing was on the wall for the event.
“I was very disappointed,” he said. “We try all year long to do this veteran’s event. All the money from any activities goes to the fishing trip on the ocean for veterans. Usually at least 100 vets. It’s pretty expensive. That trip also got cancelled.”
Rose said the event will follow COVID guidelines and will take additional measures to ensure distances.
“You drive in the gated area — it’s the rodeo area at the Efland/Ruritan Club,” he said. “If you’re going to stay, we take your name and contact information. If you’re just driving through to take it home, we don’t have to get your name and other information. If you’re going to stay and tailgate, we’ll get your information and we give you your food, take your money, and then you drive you vehicle to an assigned table and you tailgate there. The tables are spaced about 25 feet apart, facing the stage. The stage is a good 50 feet from anyone. It’s all spaced apart where it’s safe.”
Three bands are slated to perform. Rose and volunteers will provide most of the seafood offerings, although Gator Bites will be available. Several dessert vendors will also be at the festival. Originally, Rose had planned for five bands and up to 50 vendors.
“I believe people are excited to have something to do to get out of the house,” Rose said. “I believe they’re very excited. Every time I go out and try to tell people about it coming, half of them already know. That’s a good sign. I think it’s gonna be a good crowd. I’m thinking a couple thousand people.
“We’re still planning to take a group of veterans on the fishing trip. I think everything will be fine by May, but even if it’s not, we can up to 50 people in the same location. We can work with that. I believe everything will proceed as normal in May,” Rose said.
Rose added that many of the festival’s volunteers are veterans and that he is still looking for volunteers. Members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand to help out and support the festival.