Ocean delights: 19th Annual Hampton Seafood Fest Pleases Palates

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'All the food was good,' Judge says of 19th annual event

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 9, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

Sisters Nicole and Brittney Lukegord of Gloucester, Mass, made the drive to Hampton on Saturday.
[John Carden photo]

HAMPTON -- The 19th annual Seafood Festival came to a close Sunday with awards given out to restaurants that brought the tastiest food.

The "Best of the Festival" award was given to JR's Famous Steak and Seafood, while this year's "People's Choice" award went to Bon Appetit.

"It was a tough job this year," said head judge Cliff Pratt. "All the food was good."

Joining Pratt handing out awards to the winners was celebrity guest judge weatherman Al Kaprielian.

"I feel like I'm meeting a celebrity," said Miss Hampton Beach Lacy Jane Folger.

JR's won with its fresh scallops and steak and cheese, while Bon Appetit impressed the crowd with its array of seafood, including its greek salad with shrimp.

Other awards given out included "Freshest Catch Award" to the North Hampton Firefighters and "Best Dessert" to Bes Specialties for its strawberry shortcake.

La Bec Rouge, whose booth this year was decked out like a movie theater with the awning proudly displaying "Now playing: Oscar Winning Seafood," won this year's "Congeniality Award."

Organizers called this year's festival a success, but said they would not know how well it went until all the money is counted.

The festival, which was recently named one of the top 100 events in North America, is a nonprofit event put on by the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce.

"We did get hit (Saturday) because of the rain," said B.J. "Doc" Noel, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce. "The rain was a deterrent, but it certainly didn't wash it out."

Organizers were forced to cancel the fireworks Saturday due to the rain from Tropical Storm Hanna, but Noel said it was still busy despite a downpour after 6 p.m.

"The food tents were packed and, of course, so was the beer tent," Noel said. "The rain did impact the sidewalk sales."

Noel said he was pleased with Sunday's attendance with thousands upon thousands of seafood lovers.

Clam chowder, lobster rolls, shrimp jambalaya and clam fritters were just a few of the most popular food items at the booths. Non-seafood favorites included sausages, pizza, steak and cheese subs and hot dogs.

Sunday's skydiving show caused some excitement when one of the skydivers unintentionally landed in the ocean. He was rescued by lifeguards who brought him back to shore.

"When I hit the water, my plan was to start swimming home and (head) to the nearest bar," said Fred Cotreau, co-owner of Skydive New England.

Ramon Hashem of West Bridgewater, Mass., attends to the grill of Giuseppe?s Italian Sausage under the big tent during the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival on Saturday. [John Carden photo]

Erin Jowett of Durham and Mike Stanek of Portsmouth enjoy fried food at the festival on Saturday. [John Carden photo]

Lashelle Molnar of Hampton selects a lobster roll from the La Bec Rouge concession stand at the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival on Saturday. Serving for the Hampton Beach restaurant are, from left, Kim DeWitt of Dover, Elena Matveeva of Hampton Beach and Ashleigh Syphers of Amesbury, Mass.
[John Carden photo]

Jessica Harley, of Rochester shows off her lobster hat on Ocean Boulevard on the opening day of the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival in Hampton on Friday.
[Scott Yates photo]

Best Booth Design: Old Salt
Best Lobster Roll: Beach Plum
People's Choice: Bon Appetit
Best Non-Seafood: The Seafood Shack
Best Chowder: Cascade Cafe
Best Bisque or Stew: Rye Harbor Lobster Pound
Best of the Festival: JR's Famous Steak & Seafood
Freshest Catch Award: North Hampton Firefighters
Best Dessert: Best Specialties
Most Creative Cuisine: Ashworth by the Sea
Special Recognition Award: Garden House
Congeniality Award: La Bec Rouge

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