Annual Shrimp Festival
Please join us to celebrate the Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival which is celebrated on the first weekend in May. ERA Fernandina Beach Realty offers specials for vacation homes and condominiums on Amelia Island. Call 800-741-4011 or see a list of what is available by clicking here.
Held in the heart of historic downtown Fernandina Beach on beautiful Amelia Island, Florida since 1964, the family friendly, free admission Shrimp Festival offers delicious shrimp prepared every way imaginable by 25 food booths all staffed and run exclusively by local Nassau County non-profit groups as fund-raisers. Wear your walking shoes to visit over 300 Fine Artisan & Crafters, 50 Antique Dealers, 25 Kid Fun Zone activities, Live Music on 2 Stages, and lots of Pirates.
Fernandina Beach is the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry in the United States. The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival was first held in 1963 to celebrate the traditional blessing of the shrimp fleet.
A “Miss Shrimp Festival” is crowned each year and the contestants ride in a boat along the parade route, waving to the crowds. The Shrimp Festival Parade kicks off the annual event (usually held the Thursday evening preceding the first weekend of May, but not this year). UPDATE: The 2013 SHRIMP FESTIVAL PARADE will not be Thursday, but Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 11 am, a week before the Shrimp Festival, along the usual parade route of historic Centre Street.
Friday evening during the festival weekend, the riverfront food vendors and Kids’ Fun Zone open at 6 pm, followed by the opening ceremony of the Shrimp Festival at 6:30 pm and the Miss Shrimp Festival Scholarship Pageant at 7 pm. The grand finale of the festival’s opening night is the “Pirate Invasion” by ship at the riverfront at 9:30 pm, followed by a wonderful fireworks display at 9:45 pm. (The food courts are open Friday evening, along with the KIDS FUN ZONE until around 10:30 pm.)
Folks are attracted to Fernandina’s Shrimp Festival for various reasons. Known as one of the top fine art shows in the southeast, artists and art lovers come to browse the works. Realize this is a great art festival featuring over 300 juried artists and craftsmen. According to the Island Art Association, the Shrimp Festival’s fully juried arts and crafts exhibit “has been consistently recognized as one of the best art events in North America by Sunshine Artist Magazine.”
Others come for the food – naturally shrimp cooked a variety of ways and other festival favorites. The Kid’s Fun Zone is also a magnet for families, along with the festival ambiance of roaming pirates and other child-oriented activities. Plus, there’s the free live music concerts at the riverfront stage. This year’s headliner band is Pablo Cruise, playing Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm on the river, concert is free. Here is the 2013 Shrimp Festival’s stage entertainment schedule.
Here’s how seasoned Shrimp Fest celebrants (many of the Fernandina folk) approach this fun, festive weekend on Amelia Island:
There are three phases of visiting the Shrimp Festival each year to experience everything. Phase one — the Shrimp Festival Parade; phase two — the Friday night fireworks; phase three – the weekend festivities (browsing the wonderful art booths, the Kids zone, enjoying the live entertainment at the riverfront stage, and getting a bite to eat).
The main festival hours are: Friday 6 pm to 10:30 pm — food, riverfront activities, Kid’s Fun Zone, and fireworks. Saturday 9 am to 7 pm — art, crafts, antiques show and everything else (with food booths staying open until 8 pm), and on Sunday 10 am until 5 pm (everything).