Destin Seafood Festival canceled for second straight year because of COVID-19 pandemic

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

For the second year in a row, the Destin Seafood Festival has been canceled. 

"Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the logistical challenges and responsibilities of bringing tens of thousands of people together safely, we felt obligated to cancel this year’s event,” Jim Green, spokesman for the organizers of the event, wrote in an email. 

People crowd the main walkway during the 2019 Destin Seafood Festival. The 2021 festival has been canceled because of the COVID-19 surge.

The festival, which is held the first weekend of October every year along the waterfront in Destin, draws artists, musicians and craftsmen from all over the Southeast as well as food vendors and local restaurants. This would have been the 42nd festival. 

Seafood festival 2019:Festival fun

“We would like to thank the patrons, property hosts, sponsors, vendors, and volunteers who have wholeheartedly supported our event,” Green said. “We are looking forward to the 2022 Destin Seafood Festival along the Destin harbor and hope to see you all there.”

A vendor prepares food during the 2019 Destin Seafood Festival. The 2021 festival has been canceled because of the COVID-19 surge.

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The festival has now been canceled three out of the past five years. The 2020 and 2021 festivals were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, while the 2017 festival was canceled because of Hurricane Nate.

The Destin Fishing Rodeo, which starts Oct. 1, still will have its daily weigh-ins the entire month. 

“We were so looking forward to kicking off the 73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo on the same day as the seafood festival this year. … hopefully next year,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Rodeo. “I know it had to be a really tough decision for the festival committee. They so wanted to have it this year.”

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The Rodeo will go on as planned, with the weigh-ins daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar beginning Oct. 1. 

The merchandise trailer will move to the docks in about 10 days. 

“Don’t miss your 2021 Rodeo merchandise,” Donaldson said. “Come get yours and dress like a local.”