The Fish Festival of Saumart, often shortened to Fish Fest, is a celebration of the end of the fishing season in the city whose economy relies entirely on it, and whose culture is centered on the practice of fishing.
Fishing SeasonThe main fishing season begins months before Fish Fest, fueling the economy and livelihood of the city while also putting food on the table of its people. From the 8th to the 15th of the sixth month of the year, aptly titled the Month of Festivals, the Fish Festival takes place. Prime season for fishing in the north ends around the 15th of the Month of Festivals: the very final day of Fish Fest. The Month of Festivals existed before Fish Fest did, but Fish Fest evolved to fit within the scope of this month of celebrations.
OriginsBountiful harvests of fish had put Saumart on the map. Initially, it was a fringe settlement out in the east where Humans had settled far beyond their initial land. But thanks to great fishing seasons, the city was able to grow into a bustling port even in a land quite far removed from most other civilization. Much of this was due to the Gulf of Cassis, which brought fish to them through its currents. The wealth they gained caused the people of Saumart to center much of their culture and traditions around fish and the practice of fishing. With that, small celebrations turned into a large celebration that brought people from all over the world to celebrate the fishing season.
TraditionsAside from its most well known tradition, the outfits of Fish Fest (see sidebar for more info), there are other events and practices that make Fish Fest a blast for all who attend.
Seafood CuisineFood stalls go up all around Saumart, mostly consisting of dishes that either use fish as a centerpiece or use it to compliment the main flavor. Some stalls feature other ingredients aside from fish, as the organizers know that it can get overwhelming if eaten too much at once.
F.O.O.D., a food reviewing organization that spans the entire world, is centered in Saumart, and therefore is in charge of determining what food stalls go up during Fish Fest and keeping the standards up. Usually they only allow restaurants and vendors they have given high reviews, but they also allow new chefs the opportunity to get out there by setting up at Fish Fest, as long as they mark that they are not F.O.O.D. certified. The main restaurant is Forest After Dark, a popular eating establishment in Saumart run by the wealthy Redfury family. They have at least five stalls at each years festival. There are also eating competitions, one for each of the major types of fish to see who can eat the most. This includes:
F.O.O.D. by Jarhed
Artistic TiesIn partnership with the Aquatic Museum of Art in Saumart, and the Redfury family that runs it, there are various artistic events that enhance the culture of Saumart during Fish Fest. First, there are two major art contests. One is between artists who worked on pieces throughout the year for that day, while the other is for artists who want to work under pressure, making the pieces on the day of Fish Fest before a crowd. These pieces are judged in two major categories: AMA Ratings from the Aquatic Museum of Art's official judges, and crowd ratings from crowd consensus (who the audience claps for the loudest).
When attending Fish Fest, it is customary to dress in outfits for the festivities. These outfits have been called rather strange by many foreigners, as instead of traditionally beautiful outfits, one dresses in a fish costume. There are many reasons for this. The initial reasoning was to honor the fish that had provided them food and commerce throughout the previous year, as well as the season that had just ended. Tradition has evolved beyond this idea of honoring the fish and instead it has become a chance for people to express themselves artistically, as well as who they truly are by their choice of fish and outfit. The fish outfits have become a big draw for foreigners to come visit and spend money, so the people of Saumart continue to lean into them more every year.
However, the actual costumes themselves do not have specific requirements. There are traditionalists who create simple costumes that best convey the fish without needing anything too exquisite. Then, there are extravagant outfits. Outfits that go above and beyond, either in terms of making the fish look much more realistic than it needs to or making the wearer look much fancier than they otherwise would be in a fish costume. These people consider Fish Fest a fashion show, or legitimately have some major interest in fish. Finally, there are what some call "low effort" costumes, while others call them "sexy fish" outfits. These are outfits that, generally, go against the principles of shrouding oneself in a fish costume. Instead, the accentuate the body of the wearer, often to find a quick coupling with someone seeking the same thing.
Types of Costumes
After all, courting is a major part of Fish Fest, but those costumes go against its main reason. For another reason these costumes are worn is perceived anonymity, in the way that ones face and body are often obscured by the costume. Most people who live in Saumart or surrounding towns meet their spouses during Fish Fest, where they are able to connect with them in conversation before seeing the person themselves. It also gives them common ground to start conversation (fish or the festival itself). Many young people go to Fish Fest in hopes of meeting that special someone, or at the very least having a fling amidst the crowded fish fanatics.