Lobsters are the featured attraction at festival

Lobsters are the featured attraction at festival

Renee Moilanen

Lobsters are the featured attraction at festival

SAN PEDRO: After so-so turnout on first two days, promoters elated by Sunday’s crowd at Ports O’ Call Village.

Lobsterphiles from as far away as Riverside and the Santa Clarita Valley descended upon San Pedro’s Lobster Festival on Sunday, eager to devour platefuls of freshly steamed crustaceans on the last day of the event.

“There’s nothing else like this,” said Jan Kobutsu, who makes the trek from Riverside every year. Finished with her lobster lunch, Kobutsu prepared to snatch another before heading home.

All across Ports O’ Call Village, seafood fans sampled shrimp cocktail, catfish and Maine lobster, as well as as sweet potato pie and tamales.

Sounds of calypso music filled the air, as barkers enticed passersby to try their hand at carnival games. Vendors sold arts and crafts, and psychics gave readings in an eclectic midway.

Sunday was shaping up to be the busiest dayof the three-day event that began Friday night. Over the course of the weekend, organizers expected to serve 30,000 lobsters and see more than 40,000 people cross the turnstiles.

“Attendance was a little soft Friday and a little soft on Saturday because of the playoffs,”event producer Jim Hall said, referring to the American League Division baseball playoff games between the Anaheim Angels and the New York Yankees.

But Sunday was a different story.

“It’s busy beyond belief,” he said. “You can’t believe the number of people here.”

John and Kathleen O’Brien traveled from their home in Canyon Country to enjoy the festivities.

They brought their children Patrick, 7, and Colleen, 10.

“It’s a nice family fun day,” John said.

While there, Patrick decided to test out the Acroflight, a bungee- jump-like ride that snaps children into the air on elastic cords.

“It feels like I’m just floating in the air,” Patrick said after a few giggle-filled moments of flipping, bouncing and swinging on the ropes. But the rides and music were second to the main attraction – – the lobster.

For $11, attendees could snack on 1.25-pound Maine lobsters, cole slaw and bread.

The main eating tent was packed with festivalgoers picking apart lobster carcasses, fishing out meat from the tails and legs. Plates cluttered with shards of lobster shells dotted the tables.

“It’s excellent,” said Beth Ellison, a Garden Grove resident, who picked through a plate of lobster shells with her husband, Randy.

Not even the ongoing dispute between dockworkers and shipping lines could dampen the fun.

Except for a small demonstration of union workers along 22nd Street near the Ports O’ Call entrance, the strain of stalled negotiations — which have shut down the Port of Los Angeles for the past week — was hardly felt at the Lobster Festival.

Lakewood resident Albert Drew, who took the family to the Lobster Festival for a Sunday outing, was tearing into his lobster meal just 10 minutes after arriving at the event.

“It’s pretty good,” he said, hardly pausing as he munched his half- eaten lobster.

Copyright Copley Press Inc. 2002

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