It takes a full year of planning and dozens of volunteers to organize the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival held in historic Fernandina Beach, Florida. Always held the first weekend in May, the 53rd Annual Festival will be held April 28, 29 and 30, and May 1, 2016.
This exciting festival offers something for everyone. It is an Arts and Crafts Festival with an exceptional display of antiques and collectibles. In addition, there are over 350 award winning and talented artists who specialize in jewelry, glass, paintings, photography, sculptures of clay, metal, wood and fiber, apparel, and more. It is a Family Festival with kid-friendly events, booths, entertainment and attractions, including a newly expanded, dedicated Kids Fun Zone. The Shrimp Festival is also a Music Festival with three days of non-stop national, regional and local entertainment. And, of course, it is a Food Festival with shrimp and seafood dishes aplenty, all prepared to tempt any craving by Nassau County non-profit organizations.
Shrimp Festival Chairman Harry Harrison said, “When I was first asked to help with the Shrimp Festival, I never knew how many dedicated folks it took to make this four day event successful. Now as Chairman, I see how hard this group of people work, year around and for free, to insure that the Shrimp Festival is the very best. I could not ask for a more dedicated group of volunteers.”
This non-profit organization is managed by an all-volunteer board of directors and run 100% by talented and ambitious volunteers in the community. They oversee a variety of aspects within the festival such as Food Booths, Logistics, Merchandise, Publicity, Transportation, Beverages Sales, Hospitality, Parade, Opening Ceremonies and the Miss Shrimp Festival Pageant, just to name a few. These Directors are involved in everything, from organizing the Artists to hauling off the trash. Generously willing to be hands-on, they work long shifts outdoors, and interact with the exhibitors, vendors, entertainers, and guests respectfully. It takes a village to put on a world-class festival, and the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival could not function without the volunteers who give tirelessly of their time and skills.
The Festival’s Vice Chair Pat Kaminski, who has been a volunteer with the Shrimp Festival for over 20 years, added, “I have worked on the committee all these years because I believe the Shrimp Festival is vital to this community. Where else can all our non-profits make that kind of money in such a short amount of time? They work very hard that one weekend, then have the money they need for scholarships and all the other good things they do the rest of the year.”
The 2016 Festival kicks-off on Thursday, April 28th, in downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida, with the popular Pirate Parade that starts promptly at 6:00 p.m.
Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. the Kids Fun Zone located at Central Park on Atlantic Avenue, and Fernandina’s historic waterfront, come alive with food booths, giveaways, live music, Opening Ceremonies, and the Miss Shrimp Festival Pageant. This year the Festival is celebrating “Chicago Blues Night” on Friday, featuring Mud Morganfield, Muddy Waters’ first born son. Presented by the Amelia Island Blues Society, this amazing concert will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by a Pirate Invasion, fireworks, and a street dance! The activities end at 10:00 p.m.
On Saturday, April 29th, the festival expands to include hundreds of arts and crafts vendors, antiques and collectibles exhibitors, and more delicious food booths. There will be contests, live music, and of course, scores of pirates, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Fernandina Beach is the “Birthplace of the Modern Shrimping Industry” and the festivities continue Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by honoring our shrimp boat fleet with an emotional Wreath Ceremony, a Best Decorated Shrimp Boat Parade, and the Blessing of the Fleet. Enjoy the arts, crafts, antiques, collectibles, Kids Fun Zone, the food, and so much more until the festival closes with the South’s favorite party band, The Swingin’ Medallions.
The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is consistently rated by “Sunshine Artist Magazine” in the top 100 North America best events. Admission to the festival is FREE!
Pictured (left to right)
Executive Board Member Christine Scott, Vice Chairperson Pat Kaminski, Executive Board Member Roger Wasik, Festival Chairman Harry Harrison, Secretary Mary Sikes, Treasurer Dawn Lunt, and Executive Board Member Mel Aiken.
Not pictured is Immediate Past Chair Wanda Hair.