When it comes to seafood festivals in Los Angeles, the biggest is the annual Lobster Festival in San Pedro. But where do all they get all those lobsters?
About 30,000 of the tasty crustaceans were flown from Maine just for the mid-September event. Port of Los Angeles officials launched the festival a dozen years ago to boost the profile of the lagging San Pedro waterfront. In a bit of counterintuitive thinking, they chose the lobster theme, figuring that thousands of people would show up to share in the delicacy that’s rare in Southern California.
“Sardines and squid wouldn’t bring in people by the thousands,” port spokesman Philip Sanfield said. “But lobster, with its mystique, will.”
And show up they have. Over the weekend of Sept. 16-18, an estimated 40,000 people made their way to Ports O’ Call Village to partake of the lobster and enjoy performances from 19 bands.
That’s down about 2 percent from last year. Festival promoter Jim Hall said a cloudy start to the weekend and a boxing match cut slightly into attendance.
Yet those who came turned out to be prolific lobster eaters. Tommy Amalfitano, owner of San Pedro Fish Market, ordered about 30,000 lobsters flown in via American Airlines in huge bins. During the 26-hour festival, more than 1,000 were cooked and served up every hour.
In all, about 1,000 more lobsters were consumed than last year despite lower attendance. Hall said double lobster orders were especially popular: The first lobster cost $20, but the second only $13.
Of course, the leftovers turn into a week of postfestival lobster specials at San Pedro’s numerous seafood restaurants.
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