The annual Shark’s Tooth Festival had thousands of mastodon teeth and plenty more. There was live music from a handful of bands, including Kim Betts and the Gamble Creek Band, Kettle of Fish and Copperhead, plus grouper and sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, deep-fried Twinkies and a massive beer and dining tent (conveniently located near the stage so you could take in the music in the shade or watch your children jump in the adjacent bounce house).

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My two “field assistants” and I made it there Sunday afternoon, hours before the festival wrapped up, which was a perfect time to avoid the crowds and pick up bargains. At first the weather was cool and overcast, likely discouraging big crowds. But then the sun made a strong appearance for the rest of the day.

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A perfect first stop was Andy Johnson’s frozen wine and memory-foam pillow stand.

“Eventually they go together,” a man in a dark T-shirt quipped while my crew quizzed Johnson about his delicious concoction (found at

Just then Mary and Steve Rosso from Port Charlotte breezed by, with Mary clutching a beach-scene diorama. The crab looked like it had just crawled out of Caspersen Beach.

“He’s been taxidermied,” Mary Rosso said.

Who knew?

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Among the other unusual offerings were crosses and angels made out of horse-shoe nails, bean-bag (actually cornhole) toss games sporting your favorite sports teams, and fountains made out of wine bottles and wood.

One of my favorite parts of the Shark’s Tooth Festival is watching the kids, especially since my last birdie in the nest is now a cranky teenager. The event benefits Special Olympics and it is delightful to watch children of all abilities laughing and becoming mesmerized by the vendor-divers spinning adventurous yarns about how they found some of those teeth. Steven Miller, from Summerville, S.C., found a big Megalodon near Englewood last year.

It didn’t just wash up on the beach, he said.

“A builder was excavating and sifting out sand and dumped the rest in a pond,” Miller said. Another told us that it’s deceptive to see all those teeth on display and in bins. It’s not that easy to find teeth.

“It takes a long time to find a good spot” with ancient teeth, said Jody Steedley, a Georgia diver and collector, displaying at the festival for the first time.

A special thanks to my field assistants Marsha Ouimette, who took pictures for me, and Mother Theresa (a.k.a. Mom) for chatting up the divers so all I had to do was take notes.

For more information about the Venice Shark's Tooth Festival, click here.


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