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Seafood festival set for Sunday

Grown-ups can enjoy the food while kids learned about the sea at this weekend’s Deering Seafood Festival.

By Rodolfo Roman
Special to The Miami Herald
An oceanic discovery adventure will debut at Deering Estate on Sunday

The Discovery Cove, a simulated underwater archaeological adventure, will be showcased at the seventh annual Deering Seafood Festival at the estate, 16701 SW 72nd Ave., in Palmetto Bay. The fun is presented by Cutler’s Educational and Interpretative Staff. All ages are welcome to participate. Proceeds from the event benefit the Deering Estate Foundation.

“It is a great opportunity for our guests to enjoy our magnificent Backyard on the Bay at their leisure, with all of the fan-fare the Seafood Festival offers,” executive director Mary Pettit wrote in an e-mail.

The Cove will feature several areas starting off with Base Camp Deering. Young sea explorers will build their own exploration vessel and will learn about underwater communication. Over at the Mangrove Shipwreck, youngsters will uncover underwater treasures like bottles beneath the mangroves that have recently washed up.

“The education part sneaks up on them and they are learning very important life skills such as discovery and critical thinking without even knowing it,” Jennifer Tisthammer, assistant director of the Deering Estate, wrote in an e-mail.

It is the first time the festival has featured the Discovery Cove. However, other hands-on science components have been held in the Lil’ Shrimp Kids Zone, like squid dissections, a touch tank filled with sea creatures from Biscayne Bay, turtle shells, starfish and skeletal parts from manatees.

Over at the open ocean fossil site, sea-creature fossils in a mock archeological site will be uncovered.

“When children and their families think of archeology, generally the first thing that comes to mind is dinosaurs,” wrote Tisthammer. “But there is a whole other world or archeology – beneath our seas.”

Aside from The Cove, festival-goers will be able to visit the historic estate and take house and trail tours with naturalists. Fresh fish and seafood will be prepared by area restaurants. There will also be cooking demos conducted by Chef Dean Max. A lesson on the lionfish and how the species is invading South Florida’s waters with no natural predators also will be given.

For entertainment, a parade of Bahamian Junkanoo musicians will perform along with other artists.

There will also be pontoon-boat rides aboard the Pelican Skipper to Chicken Key, an Artists’ Village featuring local artists and artisans crafters with original paintings, photography, crafts and jewelry.

The festival has become a community tradition, Pettit wrote in an e-mail.

“The outpouring of love, hospitality and community support is what drives us to produce the event each year and the return on investment extends well beyond the borders of the Deering Estate, in to our community’s economy making us all extremely proud,” wrote Pettit.

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