Destin Seafood Festival kicks off Oct. 3 along harbor

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
Arts and crafts abound at the Seafood Festival which stretch along the boardwalk on Destin harbor from the Destin bridge to Heron Harbor.

The 36th annual Destin Seafood Festival is right around the corner, and organizers say this year’s festival is bigger than ever.

"The whole harbor has more stages, more arts and crafts vendors and more activities to enjoy," said Jami Jones, the festival organizer.

As one of the longest standing traditions in Destin, this year's festival takes place Oct. 3-5 and stretches 2 miles along the Destin harbor from the foot of the Destin bridge to Heron Harbor. The free event will feature a wide variety of fresh, local seafood, arts and crafts vendors, live music and kids' activities.

Based on feedback from past festivals, Jones told The Log they are putting a greater emphasis on local seafood.  Some of the local restaurants represented include AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar, Crab Island Cantina, Jackacuda's, Harry T's, Dewey Destin's, The Boathouse Oyster Bar, Coaches Raw Bar and Miller's Ale House

Also added to this year's festival are a wider variety of free kids' activities. The family friendly festival will feature three separate kids’ areas with activities and games for all ages.

A full pirate village will be set up on the dock at Heron Harbor with free face painting and pirate tattoos for the kids. Capt. Davie the Pirate will be on hand Saturday and Sunday, performing magic shows on the dock. Molly the mermaid will also be on hand with here undersea friends for pictures with the kids.

East Pass Marina will also have a kids’ area with pony rides, a petting zoo, inflatables and other games geared toward the younger crowd.

The HarborWalk Village kids’ area has hamster balls, a rock climbing wall, and a zip line that carries riders directly over the festival crowd.

Always a crowd favorite, the annual Mingo Toss (for ages up to 11 years old) will be held  Sunday morning at Royal Melvin Heritage Park, behind the city of Destin stage. Youngsters will be given awards and certificates before they run down the harbor to participate in a treasure hunt that follows the flying fish.

Both local and regional artists will be offering a variety of jewelry, wood sculptures, ceramics, photography and large-scale art pieces.

"The east end of the Festival is like a piece of the old Destin Harbor, with lots of room to walk around and enjoy the festival and the dock scene," Jones said.

But you can't forget the music.

The festival has grown to six stages this year, all featuring a variety of live music ranging from rock to country and everything in between. Acts include reggae super group Heritage, Hope Cassity, Seasons Ammons, Chronic Jester, Louie Prima Jr., Jones and Company, and the Forrest Williams Band just to name a few.

As for the logistics, there will be three shuttle stops running throughout the festival — Heron Harbor, HarborWalk Village and Fisherman's Wharf. A free shuttle will be running from the parking lot at the Morgan's sports complex behind Destin city hall.

With the festival a week out, Jones said there are still opportunities available for those who want to be a volunteer. Interested persons can contact volunteer coordinator Lisa Firth at destindsf@yahoo.com. There are still slots available for local businesses or individuals to come on board as Power Partners for the Seafood Festival. For a $100 donation that will help cover the cost of the festival's power, Power Partners will have their names on signs throughout the festival grounds.

To learn more about the Destin Seafood Festival including shuttle stops and music line up visit www.destinseafoodfestival.org.

As a rich Destin tradition, Jones told The Log she is ready to see the festival come to life.

"This is for the locals and visitors alike," she said. "We want to promote the beautiful harbor, the fishermen and the community. For the fishermen, this is a source of pride."