By Libby Hopkins

The Monster Canoe Challenge hosted by the Brandon ’86 Rotary has been compared to the Dragon Boat races in Tampa.

“We heard this event is compared to a dragon boat race, but with 14-person canoes instead,” said Jake Mathers, president-elect of the rotary.

The canoe challenge is part of the 23rd annual Brandon Seafood Festival, which will take place at Rotary’s Camp Florida on Saturday, November 7.

“The monster canoe challenge is a corporate event prior to the festival designed to attract local companies to compete in a race to the center of Lake Gornto and back,” Mathers said. “The team with the shortest time wins an engraved wooden paddle trophy and bragging rights.”

Team entry is $500 for each 14-person team. The fee includes entrance into the festival, all-you-can-eat seafood and aother activities at the seafood festival.

“It’s also a great opportunity for companies to invest in so they can further strengthen their relationships with their customers,” Mathers said.

Some of the local companies who will be competing are Mosaic, TECO and Edward Jones Financial to name a few.

The rotary decided to re-brand the seafood festival this year to attract more people from Brandon and its surrounding communities.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds are donated to both local and international causes,” Mathers said.

The Seafood Festival will take place from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. with All-You-Can-Eat southern fried fish, boiled shrimp, hush puppies and coleslaw, along with hot dogs and hamburgers for the kids. In between eating all the food, enjoy pie-eating contests, sack races, bouncy house, inflatable obstacle course, live music and more.

Some of the local charities that receive proceeds from the seafood festival are the Brandon Outreach Clinic, ECHO, Rotary’s Camp Florida and Everyday Blessings.

To learn more about the Brandon Seafood Festival or to register a team for the Monster Canoe Challenge, visit or call 313-6366. Tickets to the seafood festival are $20 online and $25 at the door. Children ages 12-17 are $10. Bring a canned food and children under 12 are free. Rotary’s Camp Florida is located at 1915 Camp Florida Rd. in Brandon.

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.