Fall is finally here, and y’all know what that means: The world-famous Florida Seafood Festival is right around the corner! The 56th annual festival will be held on November 1-2, 2019 in Apalachicola’s beautiful waterfront Battery Park. Featuring fresh local seafood, arts and crafts exhibits, live entertainment and tons of family-friendly activities, this year’s event is certain to be absolutely unforgettable.
Save the Date
2019 Florida Seafood Festival
Friday & Saturday, November 1 & 2, 2019
Battery Park in downtown Apalachicola
(At the foot of the John Gorrie Memorial Bridge on Bay Avenue)
The oldest maritime event in the Sunshine State, this 56-year-old festival draws thousands of visitors to the hip and historic port town of Apalachicola every year. Here are just a few of the fun-filled events, sights and activities in store for this year’s festival.
Blessing of the Fleet
Head down to Battery Park Friday afternoon to witness one of the Florida Seafood Festival’s most important traditions: The Blessing of the Fleet. Several clergymen bless the parade of passing fishing, shrimping and oystering vessels as well as recreational vessels from across the country.
King Retsyo and Miss Florida Seafood are also present for this blessing ceremony. King Retsyo (oyster spelled backwards), son of Neptune, is the guardian of inland waters, bays and estuaries, and he protects our local seafood industry. Each year, the Florida Seafood Festival board selects a new king.
The Florida Seafood Festival Parade
This delightful parade kicks off on Saturday, November 2nd at 10 am EST. Featuring bands, floats and dignitaries from throughout the region, the lively procession winds eastward down U.S. Highway 98 to the Apalachicola River. This event is a treat for visitors of all ages, particularly the little ones!
The 2019 Florida Seafood Festival will showcase a variety of memorable musical acts. The tunes crank up around noon on Friday, and it keeps on rocking until the park closes. There will be more live acts all day Saturday, leading up to the main musical event that night.
This year’s music headliner will be Parmalee, the quintessential American Country band from North Carolina. This talented band’s 2013 breakout single, “Carolina,” rose to a Platinum-certified #1 hit, and their debut album landed in the Top 10.
If you’re hankering for fresh Florida seafood, swing by Food Row. This is seafood lover’s paradise, where vendors serve up delicious delicacies from fresh oysters on the half shell to smoked mullet and everything in between. If it’s caught in our local waters, you’ll find it here—along with tons of tasty non-seafood dishes.
At the south end of the festival grounds, discover a delightful world of kid-friendly fun! This colorful carnival features a variety of thrilling rides and games to keep you and the whole family busy for hours.
Arts and Crafts Exhibits
The Florida Seafood Festival features up to 90 arts and crafts booths, where you can purchase hand-made gifts and unique local items. These booths are lined up across beautiful Battery Park throughout the festival.
Red Fish Run 5K
Ready to race? Don’t miss the annual Red Fish Run on Saturday, November 2nd. The historic Gibson Inn in downtown Apalachicola is the starting line for this scenic 5K. Racers then wind their way through the streets of the charming historic district and along the banks of the Apalachicola River and Bay. Registration starts at 7 am on Saturday, and the race begins at 8 am.
Blue Crab Races
During this crab-tastic event, kids get to race their very own clawed competitors! Up to 20 children can participate at a time. We provide the blue crabs and the fun. This event is free for children under the age of 12, and everyone who participates receives a prize. Be sure to sign up early because slots fill up fast.
Oyster Shucking Contest
If you decide to stop by and watch this fast-paced contest, don’t blink! With their oyster knife in hand, each gloved contestant stands over a tray of 18 world-famous Apalachicola Bay Oysters. Usually within two short minutes, one competitor thrusts his or her hands into the air, signaling completion. But the fastest shucker isn’t necessarily the champion. When all the contestants have finished, the judges inspect their work, and competitors are penalized or even disqualified for shoddy shucking. The winner goes on to compete in national oyster shucking championships.
Oyster Eating Contest
During this must-see contest, contestants guzzle as many oysters as possible in a 15-minute span. The big, juicy oysters are shucked in advance, counted and placed in paper cups so the competitors can quickly shovel them down. The catch is that they have to keep them down—a rule that many participants end up breaking.
The Oyster Eating Contest will be held on Saturday around mid-day. A dozen or more men and women usually compete in the contest, which draws thousands of cheering spectators. Some of the top eaters consume more than 250 to 300 oysters during the competition!