Shrimp Festival kicks off at Fernandina Beach

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05-02-14-SHRIMP-FEST-jpgThis weekend marks the 51st annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival in Fernandina Beach.

People may notice some changes, including a big name entertainer, and the absence of a long time vendor.

That longtime vendor decided not to come out because of an issue with where they would be set up, and a concern about the shrimp not being local.

Organizers say they are still on track for a wonderful festival for the family, full of local shrimp vendors, and they are looking forward to the kickoff Friday night.

“We typically have about 120,000 plus people come down to see us here at the waterfront at Fernandina Beach and were excited about greeting everybody again,” said Festival Chairman Mark Deaton.

Deaton said it’s on track to be another great festival, despite concerns from one vendor who decided to leave the festival after decades.

The Shrimp Producers Association said it moved to an unfavorable location, and expressed concern that not all the shrimp here was local. But Deaton said there will be 20 booths serving wild caught shrimp, and more.

“We’ll have 10 or so huge shrimp boats here on our docks all weekend long, we’ve got the support of most of the local shrimpers ,” said Deaton.

In addition to shrimp, Singer Edwin McCain is coming in on Saturday and Edgar Hanson from The Deadliest Catch.

Then there’s the arts and craft show.

Rhonda Bristol with the Island Art Association said it’s a chance to view the art and hear from the artists first hand.

“We’re going to have about 300 artists and artisans there will be something for everyone,” said Bristol.

Kate Harris with the Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau said it means a lot not just for Amelia Island, but for Nassau County.

“It’s significant. All the hotels and motels are booked for this weekend and the estimated economic impact of this weekend is around $10 million,” said Harris.

Things kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Fernandina Beach. There are all kinds of events this weekend not just shrimp. Click HERE for a schedule of events for the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.

Last year there was rain but organizers say even if it rains again this year, the festival will go on.

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