01 September 2012
Florida Seafood Fest Set Oct. 31- Nov. 1
By Chuck Spicer
The Forgotten Coast draws a boatload of beach blanket laden families during the summer vacation months. Occupancy rates in this ecotourism destination are nearly 100%. The “shoulder months” – not so much! Thus the main objective of the various tourist development councils in this coastal region is to attract visitors during those times when things are extremely sedate and there are plenty of available accommodations. Like now!
That is one reason October has evolved into the single busiest festival month of the year. In addition, not only is the weather absolutely marvelous, but the local volunteers who conduct these festivals have considerably more free time.
Adding to the wealth of many special activities slated for this month is the Apalachicola based Florida Seafood Festival. It is always held on the first weekend of November and thus this year the really big Saturday falls on November 1 while the more laid back Friday fun happens on October 31. As a result we must treat this 51st edition of the state’s oldest maritime and seafood festival as an end of October event.
This month also has a brand new happening on the agenda. It is being called “Wild Week” and is being staged on reserved and preserved St. Vincent Island – just off the Franklin & Gulf County coasts.
There is also a whole passel of highly popular events that will draw locals and visitors from all along the Forgotten Coast. There will be a day of “Blues” music in Apalachicola and the 16th Annual Mexico Beach Art & Wine Fest. The 6th Annual Blast on the Bay Songwriters Festival runs for several days and features venues in both Gulf County and in Mexico Beach. Business folks from all over the Forgotten Coast will play some golf at St. James Resort while thousands will crowd into “downtown” St. Marks for the annual Stone Crab Festival plus a celebration of the Monarch butterflies that make a pit stop in the area and a celebration of International Archaeology Day at San Marcos de Apalache State Park.
Chip in a full moon climb on St. George Island, a film festival in Apalachicola, a “Ghost Walk” in a cemetery in Apalach and the Apalachicola Bay Chamber 10th Annual Oyster Roast and you have the makings of one mighty busy month.
But wait – that’s not all. The Crooked River Lighthouse, just west of Carrabelle, will hold its annual “Lantern Fest” in October and tons of folks will converge on the light, museum and the big wooden boat in the park for an outstanding evening of entertainment. And rounding out the bounty will be the annual “Running to the Bay” series of road races that start in Apalach’s Battery Park and head towards the island. There are six different distances and even divisions within those races.
Have we forgotten anything? Probably! So much to do and so little time, so little time.
Oops – this just in. Award-winning St. George Island State Park will be sponsoring five special events during October. We will provide details in a special article inside this issue. The dates are Oct. 4/11/19/25. Everything from campfire cooking to a scavenger hunt for the youngsters.
DETAILS OF OCTOBER EVENTS
Also on the 8th the Cape St. George Lighthouse will feature its monthly sunset/full moon climb. The light is located at 2B East Gulf Beach Drive on St. George Island. Phone is 850-927-7745 and website: www.stgeorgelight.org/
Once again there will be “Blues in the Lot” in Historic Downtown Apalachicola on Oct. 11.. Five great blues acts will be featured starting at noon until 8:00 pm. For more info call 850-653-5564. And following the Blues performance the 2nd Annual “Apalachicola Riverfront Film Festival” will be staged at Riverfront Park (on the Apalachicola River). For additional details phone: 850-653-3474 or visit the website: www.apalachriverfilm.com.
The 2014 Big Bend Seafood Festival will be held Saturday, October 11 from 10am to 4 pm at Woolley Park in the delightful Wakulla County community of Panacea.
Two of the more significant activities on the agenda are the first annual “Seafood Gumbo Cook-off” and a 5K race. The festivities start with the 5K race – with the starting line at Woolley Park. Registration is from 7 am - 8:15 am. and the race begins at 8:30 am. You can download registration forms at http://bigbendseafoodfestival.com/5k-run, or go to Raceit.com to register online. Festival gates open at 10 a.m.
The Seafood Gumbo Cook-off will result in the naming the “Big Bend Gumbo Master” of
the year. Anyone can enter this event, and there is no fee to enter. Judging will begin at 11 a.m.
Gumbo Cook-off rules, information and entry forms are available at http://bigbendseafoodfestival.com/gumbo-cook-off.
The festival will also feature, live entertainment, food vendors, maritime demonstrations, games, and arts & crafts for kids..
The Big Bend Seafood Festival is produced by a core of volunteers. Proceeds from the event
will benefit the Big Bend Maritime Center, which proudly keeps the art of wooden boat building
alive through hands-on boat building workshops and camps for adults and youth throughout the
year. The center will be open for tours during the festival and attendees can talk with boat-builders, and view boats in various stages of the building process.
For more information about the event “like” it on Facebook by searching for their community
The 16th Annual Mexico Beach Art & Wine Festival, held Oct. 11 at the Driftwood Inn on Highway 98 in Mexico Beach, will feature an afternoon of artists displaying their work; cash bar featuring spectacular wines and beers; live and silent auction, and live entertainment. This juried show will offer prizes to artists excelling in their medium. By the way, this is a juried show and not a wine tasting event.
The Festival opens at 2pm and admission is $5.00 per person. Artists will have their work on display and will be available for purchase. Be sure to check out the silent auction tables that will feature original pieces from participating artists as well as local merchants. The silent auction will open at 2pm, when the festival opens. The award ceremony will begin around 3pm and will award first and second place in each division as well as Best in Show. Be sure to stick around for the live auction that will feature unique artwork. That live auction will begin at 5pm.
It is time to go “WILD” on Oct. 14-18. It has been dubbed “St. Vincent Island WILD WEEK”, which stands for Wonder - Inspire - Learn - Do , all of which will take place on St. Vincent Island during National Wildlife Refuge Week. There will be a themed tour of the entire island each day. Each tour will have a narrator and a specialist who share their knowledge about the island and the featured theme of that day's tour.
The focus of each of the five tours will be Photography, History of St. Vincent Island, Birds, Native Plants, and a Kids/Family oriented tour. More specific information about the WILD WEEK tours are posted on the events page on the supporters website – www.stvincentfriends.com. Reservations for the tours will be on a first-come / first-served basis.
The Oct. 16-19 “Blast on the Bay Songwriters Festival” is celebrating its 6th anniversary this year, Florida’s Forgotten Coast will again play host to a group of talented musicians and songwriters direct from the streets of Nashville. Festival performances will consist of over 30+ musicians who collectively have written hundreds of hit songs from Faith Hill and George Strait to Jason Aldean and Garth Brooks. Many songwriters from past events will be returning for another great weekend of music and storytelling, in addition, guests can count on several new faces at this year’s "Blast."
It is obvious that the artists really enjoy playing at the nearly dozen venues over the long weekend, from the VIP sponsored artist welcome reception on the beach Thursday night to the grand finale on Sunday afternoon at the world Famous Indian Pass Raw Bar. It is a weekend not to be missed. This annual event continues to deliver on the promise of an incredible time for anyone who appreciates great music. All shows are FREE of charge, or request a minimal donation, and everyone is encouraged to come out and enjoy.