The Destin Seafood Festival does it again: Record local support for annual event

Savannah Vasquez
Seafood Festival Chairwoman Jami Jones says the annual Destin tradition has grown and "definitely gotten bigger."

The crowds were proof of another successful year at the 37th Annual Destin Seafood Festival this past weekend. Locals and visitors alike mingled amongst seafood vendors, artists, and musicians to enjoy the wonderful bounty of the Gulf.

Festival Chairwoman Jami Jones said that because the festival is a free event there is no way to calculate the exact number of visitors, but gauging by the volume of the crowd she had a good estimate.

“It’s grown, it’s definitely gotten bigger,” Jones said of this year’s event. “We usually have between 6,500 to 7,000 people, and this week it was a strong showing.”

With about 130 arts and crafts vendors, 30 food vendors and a big local restaurant presence, there was something for everyone at the annual festival.

Food lovers had their pick of food trucks and seafood vendors to chose from, football fans caught the big game at AJ’s Jumbotron, and art and music fans had plenty of local and regional talent to enjoy. Even the kids had a great time with two kid’s fun zones and of course the annual Mingo Toss contest.

“The mingo toss was great,” said Jones. “We had a little over 100 kids show out for that. They got their picture taken, got their face painted and everyone got certificates.”

During the three-day event, festival-goers also got the chance to witness the first weekend of the 67th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo as anglers brought in large catches for a chance to enter the month-long October tournament. Situated on the floating rodeo barge behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, boats backed in with catches large and small to wow the crowds of curious onlookers.

This year’s festival made history with the largest number of local restaurants in attendance, something Jones said she is particularly proud of.

“We want to feature and show off what Destin is about and our heritage,” said Jones. “We love the support of traveling vendors but we really want to showcase and support our local restaurants and chefs and the culinary wealth we have here. The more local restaurants we have the better it will be.”