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The Forgotten Coast of Florida lies along the Panhandle. It is bounded on the West by Mexico Beach, St. Joe Beach and Port St. Joe. Going East you come to Simmons Bayou, Cape San Blas, Indian Pass, and The City of Apalachicola on the banks of the Apalachicola River. Continuing east you come to Eastpoint, St. George Island, Carrabelle, Lanark Village, St. James Island, St. Teresa Island, and Alligator Point in Franklin County, FL. As you cross the Ochlockonee River on Highway 98 you enter Wakulla County, FL and Ochlockonee Bay, Mashes Sands, Panacea, Live Oak Island, Shell Point and St. Marks. The St. Marks Lighthouse and nature preserve is the easternmost place on the Forgotten Coast. Each area is different, and all are uncrowded Natural Wonders.

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Scallop Season Continues; Festival Sept. 12-13 

 

 

By Chuck Spicer

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In general, Labor Day (September 1) marks the close of the summer months and the beginning of fall across the United States. But on Florida’s Forgotten Coast that is only partially true.

It is true in that families from throughout the southeastern portion of the country have packed up their beach chairs, ‘brellas buckets and shovels and headed back home and this region is “back to normal”. No more lines at area restaurants, shops.or along Highway 98.

But is false when it comes to our absolutely ideal outdoor recreation weather.

The average daytime high temperatures during this month will stay around 88 degrees – actually a welcome relief from the sweltering days of June, July and August – and ideal for a day of relaxing on the beach, fishing, hiking or playing a round of golf. Evening lows will hang around 70 degrees and that makes for perfect conditions for taking an evening stroll and counting the stars in our pollution free skies.

And next come October and November – the best time of the year according to most local residents. An average eighty degrees in the daytime and sixty one at night. If you selected the September-November period to visit the Forgotten Coast “you done good.”

Considering becoming a “snowbird” and curious about the winter months in this Northwest Florida coastal region? Unlike South Florida we actually have “seasons.” Certainly no snow but winter averages of 64 in the daytime and 45 at night. Think you can handle that?

And because the Forgotten Coast is pretty much filled to capacity during the summer months there is considerably less emphasis on the part of the Tourist Development Councils to draw more visitors with a welter of  summer festivals and special events.

Things are considerably different during the upcoming “shoulder” months. So much so that many lodging providers are already offering special rates. But we also feel compelled to warn you that the popularity of the region as a RV “Snowbird” destination is growing by leaps and bounds and you should make those reservations early.

There are also considerably more special events on our “fall” activities calendar. Of course the biggest of them all is the Florida Seafood Festival to be held Oct. 31-Nov. 1 in Apalachicola. This will be the 51st edition and Apalach’s population for that weekend will likely swell from 3,000 to 10,000 or more.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the fun things that area on the agenda for September and October.

 

                                          SEPTEMBER ACTIVITIES

 

The Bay Scallop Season, which  opened June 28 will conclude on Sept. 24,  The recreational season is open in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in eastern Bay County

Recreational scallop hunting is a mighty popular pastime of Florida’s Forgotten Coast and is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Now that the season is open vehicles line the roadways in Port St. Joe (Gulf County) and along scenic route C-30 all the way to the tip of Cape San Blas as individuals and families enjoy gathering the evening meal. There are also many popular “hot spots” in Franklin and Wakulla Counties as folks learn to “live off the land”. Or sea, in this case. Regulations, including bag and vessel limits, apply.

On Sept. 5 the “Thirsty Goat” on Highway 98 in Port St. Joe hosts a “First Friday Art & Music Series” evening event and on Saturday morning the SaltAir Farmers’ Market is open in Port St. Joe.

September 6 is a Free Saltwater Fishing Day in the state. No license is required for locals or visitors.

Residents and visitors alike are invited to gather along the shoreline at Franklin County’s Alligator Point Bald Point State Park on September 6 and learn about crabs. The 10-11 a.m. program is hosted by the Bald Point State Park rangers and is geared particularly to children who want to learn fascinating facts about hermit crabs, ghost crabs and fiddler crabs.

Ever climb to the top of a lighthouse? It is quite an adventure and an ideal photo session. The area features lights in Carrabelle, St. Marks and a light, which was just recently moved from Cape San Blas to Port St. Joe, and will soon be open. So you have a lot to choose from. But on September 9 it is a very special day at the lighthouse on St. George Island. The local association sponsors a sunset/full moon climb. Yep, when you go up the sun is setting and then a magnificent full moon appears. What a photo op. The price is modest. Admission is $15 ($10 for SGLA members) and includes snacks and a sparkling cider toast to the full moon. For details phone 850-927-7745 or visit their website: www.stgeorgelight.org/

 

It started off as a modest one-day affair to celebrate the harvesting of tasty aforementioned bi-valves that inhabit the pristine waters of St. Joseph Bay and now the 18th Annual Florida Scallop & Music Festival at George Core Park in Port St. Joe has grown to two days – September 12-13..

The annual Scallop Festival draws big crowds to Port St. Joe…all eager to celebrate this family fun activity and Gulf County delicacy. Sample scallops cooked in many tasty ways, enjoy a variety of great southern foods, a lot of live music, arts and crafts, a car show, and a kid’s zone all overlooking beautiful St. Joseph Bay. Phone: 850-227-1223 Website: www.scallopfest.com As always, we will include additional information on inside pages.

 

On September 13 athletes from all over the world will travel to Veteran's Memorial Park in St. Joe Beach to run, bike, and swim in the fall version of the USA Triathlon sanctioned “Beach Blast Triathlon & Duathlon. Well marked courses follow along the beautiful white sand beaches and pine forest of the Gulf Coast. This sprint is organized by certified staff and much appreciated volunteers who love the sport. Following the race, athletes and their friends and family celebrate the accomplishments of the day with great food at the Veteran's Memorial Park. Learn more about the bi-annual Beach Blast by visiting the website www.beachblasttriathlon.com for rules and registration details.

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