Get hooked on the 34th annual Seafood Festival

Matt Algarin

With only two days until the 34th annual Seafood Festival, organizers are putting the finishing touches on an event that drew 50,000 people last year.

“Now, it’s the calm before the storm,” said Mike Eller, one of the festival’s organizers and co-chairman of the Destin Charter Boat Association.

Free and open to the public, Destin’s annual tradition kicks off at 3 p.m. Friday, and showcases Destin’s heritage, as it stretches along the new harbor boardwalk from HarborWalk Village on the west to Dockside and the Boathouse Oyster Bar on the east.

In its second year, Eller said one of the most exciting events during the festival is the kid’s Mingo Toss, which will take place Sunday at the city’s Royal Melvin Heritage Park.

In addition to the Mingo Toss, pirate entertainer Capt. Davey is going to lead children on a “Ye Old Treasure Hunt” along the harbor.

“There is going to be a lot for the kids to do,” Eller said, noting they will also have an area full of crafts, bounce houses and other activities. The kid’s area will be located on the Heron Harbor property, behind the old Electric Cowboy.

As for the festival itself, Eller said he is proud to announce that almost every harbor front property owner is “on board” as a festival partner, which makes the Seafood Festival more cohesive and community oriented.

Festival volunteers are still needed to assist in collecting donations and steering patrons to parking locations. Shuttles will run throughout the festival, with pick-up and drop-off locations at The Track and Bass Pro Shops at Destin Commons in the parking lot in front of Lowe's.

As a free event, donations will be collected at the door, but are not required. The Seafood Festival will be raising funds for next year’s festival by selling soda, wine and beer at various locations along the harbor. Collections from the refreshment booths will also be used to make donations to local charities that are supported by the festival.

With arts and crafts booths and vendor tents still to be set up, Thursday morning is going to be “organized chaos,” as planners start giving the festival its trademark appearance along the docks.

“It’s like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle,” Eller said.

For more information about the 34th annual Seafood Festival, visit

At the end of the day, the main goal for organizers is to make the Seafood Festival an event and attraction that visitors and locals enjoy and look forward to year after year, Eller said.

“We want to do everything we can to make this festival the best it can be,” he said. “We want to make sure that we stay true to our history and heritage.”


Friday, Oct. 5: 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 6: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 7: 11a.m. - 5 p.m.


When the 34th Annual Destin Seafood Festival kicks off Oct. 5, the free festival will stretch along the Destin harbor from HarborWalk Village to Dockside and The Boathouse.


With multiple stages throughout the venue, the emphasis is on local talent. This year’s musical lineup will feature Heritage, Cadillac Willy, Bouku Groove, Season Ammons, Cheryl Jones & Company and Forrest Williams, The Sauce Boss and Wild Country Blue, just to name a few. There will also be live music along the boardwalk, at the Tipsy Turtle, AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar and the Boathouse Oyster Bar, Crab Island Cantina, Louisiana Lagniappe, Elmo’s Grill and the Back Porch. All concerts are free on two stages of entertainment, the Destin City Stage and the Harborwalk Village stage. For a complete lineup visit the Destin Seafood Festival’s Facebook page.


Capt. Mike Eller, co-chairman of the Destin Charter Boat Association and festival organizer, said this year’s festival will also include 80 arts and crafts vendors that appeal to all, featuring a wide range of glass artists, handmade jewelry, wood sculptures, photography and festival/Caribbean arts, signs and other goodies.


It wouldn’t be the Seafood Festival without seafood, so this year’s gathering will include local fare from Harry T’s, AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, Rotolo’s, the Fisherman’s Wharf, Boathouse Oyster Bar, Crab Island Cantina, Louisiana Lagniappe, Elmo’s Grill and the Back Porch.


Festival parking will be in the vicinity of the event, Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village, the city of Destin's parking lot at Marler Street, and at the Destin Community Center. Free shuttles and Pedi Cabs will be offered. Shuttles pick up locations are the Destin Commons and The Track.


Anyone interested in volunteering at this year’s Seafood Festival can contact Mike Eller at