MIRAMAR BEACH — The Market Shops, located at the entrance to Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, hosted the fifth annual Bloody Mary Festival on Nov. 2.


The annual event, recently named "Best Local Event" by the readers of Emerald Coast Magazine, raised $25,000 for Habitat for Humanity — Walton County, a record-breaking amount for the festival. The sold-out event featured unlimited tastes of the Emerald Coast’s most creative and inventive Bloody Marys made with Cathead Vodka and served by the finest restaurants and bars in the Panhandle.


Guests were greeted upon arrival with festive tomato-themed balloon décor, courtesy of Mingle, before entering the bustling courtyard and grand lawn, each full of restaurants, vendors, and merchants from The Market Shops. Event goers made their way around the tents sampling each Bloody Mary complete with over-the-top accoutrements in specialty cups provided by Compass Builders of Florida and Visit South Walton.


Upon check-in, guests received a token in order to vote for the coveted People’s Choice Awards for the "Best Bloody Mary in South Walton." At the end of the event, these votes were counted by Hill Coleman CPA and the following local restaurants were chosen as the winners:


1st Place People’s Choice Award — Rockin Tacos Grill & Tequila Bar


2nd Place People’s Choice Award — The Surf Hut


3rd Place People’s Choice Award — Jackacuda’s Seafood and Sushi


A panel of select food critics and local celebrities also judged each Bloody Mary and selected the following winner as the most delicious and most creative:


Judge’s Choice Award — The Surf Hut


All awards were custom made by local artist Maxine Orange.


There was plenty of food to go around during the festival provided by various restaurants located within The Market Shops. Headlining the event was a live performance from Dread Clampitt on the main stage sponsored by Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast.


Additional funds were raised through a Benefit Brunch held simultaneously with the festival at Bijoux Restaurant + Spirits, where 10 percent of proceeds benefited Habitat for Humanity – Walton County. Jon Smith Subs also donated 10 percent of their sales from that day to the local nonprofit.