Just Around The Corner – The 54 Annual Shrimp Festival


by: Davis Yancy Clegg

Decorated Shrimp boats at the Shrimp Festival

 

To the Duke of Newcastle, James Oglethorpe once wrote, “This next island, the fairest of this province, I call Amelia.” Fairest of the surrounding islands is a most accurate observation. With only 52 square miles making up the entire island, 13 of those miles are pure, untouched beaches. Dunes for days, and stars for nights make for the most serene of getaways. Being the only territory in the continental United States under dominion of 8 different flags for over 500 years, there is no shortage of culture for the most soulful of travelers.

There are a number of perfectly legitimate reasons to visit northeast Florida’s most paradise-like island all throughout the year. Pristine sun-kissed shores and cuisine that will make even the most seasoned seafood connoisseurs blush in joy are bountiful island-wide. In the small island community, the population (per a 2015 census) stands roughly at 12,500 people year-round. The flux of northerners that come down to escape the harsh winters up north will fluctuate that Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festivalnumber. However, there’s one certain time that comes around the first weekend of May every year that brings so many people to the island, you would think it might sink from the sheer weight of them all. The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival – to be held May 5-7 this year – brings upwards of 125 thousand tourists to the island. Simple math tells us that number is exactly 100 times the total population. Coming from all over the nation (and some from other continents altogether), the diversity in culture makes for an excellent experience. With northeast Florida’s top talent in show, renowned, and craftsmen and cuisine all accounted for, you would be hard-pressed to find a better event to kick off another sweltering Florida summer.

Fireworks at the Shrimp FestivalThough the festival dates are technically May 5th thru the 7th, the party is going to get started with the inaugural parade on Thursday evening. Marching bands, energized dancers, and floats decorated to the max provide quite the opening day spectacle. Those interested can apply to enter the parade. Arts and crafts booths applications, pageant entries and all other participant option applications are downloadable off the site as well. All the local watering holes will have live music carrying on throughout out the weekend, wrapping up Sunday afternoon. Parking is always a task, especially if you aren’t planning on getting to the event early. Some residents that live near downtown rent out their properties for parking. Parking may also be found east of downtown on Atlantic Avenue. Yours truly will be performing at Cafe Karibo Saturday afternoon from 11.30am-2.30pm. Please come out and show your support for the local business and all the musicians that will be up and down Centre St. and its perpendiculars just-a-pickin’ and grinnin’! Cool off from the downtown festivities aboard one of our twilight cruises for a solid ending to a great day out on the town!

 

Are you ready to party?  Check out the special Fireworks Cruises on Friday, May 5.  Choose from the Family Friendly 1.5 hour Sunset Tour “Fireworks” or the Adult Twilight BYOB Fireworks Cruise. Act fast as these will sell out fast…  (continue…)

 

 

 

 

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