Shrimp and Grits Festival raises $20,000 for Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Even with a low-lying fog early on, it didn’t slow down folks from turning out for the second annual Shrimp & Grits Festival on the Destin harbor Saturday. 

“Even a foggy day here in Destin is better than a sunny day in Indiana,” said Jon Brinkmeyer of Evansville, Indiana, as he taste-tested one of the many bowls of shrimp and grits that were served up Saturday. 

“We were sold out in the first 30 minutes,” said event director Adrienne Brand.

Brand said they had sold the bulk of the 1,800 tickets for the event online but the rest went quick at the gate at Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer. 

Jerry James of Alabama takes a bite of shrimp and grits at the festival on Saturday. He said he came just for the festival and was enjoying being outdoors.

From noon until 4 p.m. festival-goers got the chance to sample shrimp and grits from 14 area restaurants in the tents set up along the waterfront behind Brotula’s. 

"It’s good to see this great crowd,” said Sunset Bay Café executive chef Jay Ammons as he was pulling shrimp off the grill. 

Executive Chef Jay Ammons of Sunset Bay Cafe pulls shrimp off the grill at the Shrimp & Grits Festival on Saturday. Sunset Bay Cafe won for Best Grits plus second in the People's Choice awards.

“It’s an awesome opportunity … it’s great to get out after the year we’ve had. Good to see them out enjoying themselves,” Ammons added. 

And the people were enjoying themselves listening to the live music of Flash Flood while taste-testing the shrimp and grits. 

Eric and Sandy Hawthorne of Panama City drove over for the day to enjoy the Shrimp & Grits Festival on Destin harbor.

“I like it … anything with food is great,” said Eric Hawthorne, who was there with his wife Sandy from Panama City. 

“We had three so far,” Sandy said as they were eating one bowl while standing in line for another taste test. 

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Not only were the people loving it, but so were the restaurant staffs who were dipping and serving up the food. 

“It’s been non-stop,” said Missy Schofield of the Boathouse Oyster Bar. “I think people were tired of being at home. People need interaction."

Almost 2,000 attended Saturday's second annual Shrimp and Grits Festival in Destin.

Jerry James and Glenda Adkinson came from Alabama for the festival. 

“We came just for this,” James said. 

“We were looking for something to do,” Adkinson added as they worked their way around to the various tents for taste tests. 

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When it was all said and done, judges picked three winners and the festival-goers picked their favorites. 

Knife’s Edge Private Chef and Catering won Best Overall. Best Grits was served up by Sunset Bay Café and Most Creative went to The Grub Slinger LLC. 

Megan Clark and Megan Waters of AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar smile for the camera as they serve up shrimp and grits at the festival on Saturday. AJ's won the People's Choice award out of the 14 restaurants represented.

AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar won first place in the People’s Choice. Second went to Sunset Bay Café and The Grub Slinger LLC placed third. 

But the real winner of the event was the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast. The festival raised $20,000 for the club.