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Getting ready to strap on the bibs

As the Kiwanis Club of Elmira prepares for its 32nd annual Lobsterfest, one might pause to consider mortality. Approximately 700-750 lobsters will be served at Lions Hall on May 25 – that’s a lot of shellfish.

Kiwanis member Tony Dowling started calculating. “When you consider over 32 years – there haven’t always been that many lobsters, but there have been for many years. Thousands and thousands of lobsters have been through the steamers.”

Typically, said Dowling, Lobsterfest will draw around 650 hungry seafood enthusiasts. However, even though the one-and-a-half-pound lobsters (or spare rib, if you’re so inclined) are more than adequate at filling the empty belly, Dowling added, “We always have extra lobsters in case people want to buy a second one for the meal, or take one home another night to make a lobster salad.”

Elmira Kiwanis Club members Tony Dowling and Tom Hendrick catch one of the 700-plus lobsters that will be served up at the annual event.[will sloan / the observer]
Elmira Kiwanis Club members Tony Dowling and Tom Hendrick catch one of the 700-plus lobsters that will be served up at the annual event. [will sloan / the observer]
So, if any crustacean should happen to be reading this, the message is: beware. As the event has grown in size over the decades, the Kiwanis Club has steadily refined their skills in the art and craft of lobster-boiling. Making this year unique, the club has purchased a new set of high-speed lobster cookers for quicker results.

Over the years, the event has grown in size, said Tom Hendrick, founder of the Kiwanis Lobsterfest. “We started out pretty meager back 32 years ago, and it’s been growing ever since.”

Now, the event has two sittings – an early-bird meal at 4 p.m., and a 7 p.m. dinner/dance, complete with a raffle. There will also be a cash bar.

Bells and whistles like raffles and prizes are nice, but the event remains all about the lobster. “The lobsters are flown in from Nova Scotia. It’s live, fresh lobster,” said Hendrick.

“We get basically a thousand pounds of lobster delivered to us the day of the event, and our cookers are set up right on the parking lot. Soon as they’re cooked, they’re run over to the hall in time for dinner.”

“There are other lobsterfests that do supposedly all-you-can-eat, but generally they serve little stuff,” added Dowling. “You stand in line 15, 20 minutes to get a little lobster, and you leave. It’s not that you’ve had enough lobster, you’re just tired of standing in line.

“Usually, by the time people get through our dinner, they’ve had all they can eat.”

The Kiwanis Lobsterfest takes place May 25 at Lions Hall, beginning at 7 p.m. Dinner is $49 per person, with some $39 early-bird seating beginning at 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Read’s Decorating (27 Arthur St. S.), by calling 519-669-3456, or 519-669-1281 for Visa and Mastercard orders.

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