Fall festival time in the Southeast
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Take a fish to lunch at The Beach, Florida's best kept secret

Digging into some delicious fresh seafood at the Destin Seafood Festival

October is National Seafood month and what better place is there to enjoy fresh seafood than at The Beach on Northwest Florida’s gulf coast.

Take a fish or shellfish to lunch when you show up at one of the many fall foodie festivals taking place all across the 227-mile coastline of The Beach. Local chefs will be cooking up everything from shrimp to barbecue to German sausages.

The action starts in late September each year and continues through the month of November. Join thousands of visitors who venture to these sugar-sand shores for great food, fine wine and live music.

Here you’ll find fish and shellfish boiled, fried, blackened, sautéed, raw and as the featured item in many original culinary creations.

Check out competitions between the best local cooks, mouth-watering recipes from area restaurants as well as the best vintage wines  and home brews.  The festivals are like one long progressive dinner and everyone’s invited.

Grab a handful of napkins, check out the menu and dig in to fall culinary travel at The Beach.

Taste of The Beach Chef in action

Here are the appetizers.

32nd Annual Pensacola Seafood Festival - September 25-27, 2009

Hours: Friday, Sept. 25, Noon – 11 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 27, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Seville Square in downtown Pensacola, 850-433-6512

www.fiestaoffiveflags.org/SeafoodFestival or www.visitpensacola.com

Tthe Pensacola Seafood Festival is one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s “Top 20 Events in the Southeast,” and one of the largest events in Florida, with over 100,000 in attendance.

Area chefs offer selections that include fried grouper, blackened mahi mahi, and Pensacola crab ball, while festival goers enjoy the arts and crafts of over 175 vendors. Live music by a dozen local bands, cooking demonstrations, a 5K walk/run, a Splash Dog competition and children’s activities make this three-day event an area favorite.

Admission is free.

31st Annual Destin Seafood Festival - October 2-4, 2009

Hours: Friday, Oct. 2, 4 - 10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 4,

11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

HarborWalk Village on the Destin Harbor, 850-837-2711 www.destinchamber.com/destin/seafoodfestival.asp or www.destin-fwb.com

Also listed in the Southeast Tourism Society’s “Top 20 Events in the Southeast,” the Destin Seafood Festival offers fresh seafood prepared by some of the area’s most popular restaurants, while local bands share the stage with top national music makers.

This year’s headliners are Survivor and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Children’s activities and arts and crafts booths overlook the Destin Harbor where the month-long Destin Fishing Rodeo takes place each October.

Festival goers can watch the afternoon weigh-ins on the docks as anglers compete for cash and prizes.

Around 36,000 people attend the three-day event.

Admission for all three days is $15, or you may purchase daily admission bands for $5 each for Friday and Sunday and $10 for Saturday.


OktoberfestOctober 2 & 3, 2009

Hours: Friday, Oct. 2, 5 – 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Grace Avenue, downtown Panama City, 850-785-2554

www.visitpanamacitybeach.com or www.panamacity.org

Dig out the lederhosen it’s Oktoberfest time.

Each year downtown Panama City is transformed into a German-style village, with accordion players, carnival rides, sausage eating contests and lots of food and local brews.

Tthis beer and brats fest annually attracts more than 25,000 people.  Family activities include clowns and face painting for the kids, and beer tastings and polka dancing for the grown-ups.

Admission is free.


3rd Annual Blue Jeans & BBQOctober 3, 2009

Hours: Saturday, Oct. 3, 3 – 9 p.m.

Hayes Ranch, 5097 Berryhill Road in Milton, 850-208-7122

http://support.covenanthospice.org/bluejeans/index.html or www.floridabeachestorivers.com

Both a food festival and a bull riding competition, Blue Jeans & BBQ shows off the country side of The Beach and includes arts and crafts vendors and children’s activities.

There are Kiddie Korral games from 3-7 p.m., and the bull riding competition from 7 - 9 p.m., as well as live entertainment, lots of down-home BBQ, and drawings.

Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

Tickets are $10 each prior to the event or $15 at the door. Children 5 and under are free.  All funds raised from the event go to Covenant Hospice.

Festa ItalianaOctober 9 & 10, 2009

Hours: Friday, Oct. 9, 5-9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Sons of Italy Lodge, 808 South Dr., Fort Walton Beach, 850-651-4008

www.destin-fwb.com

Hosted by the Sons of Italy Lodge #2422, Festa Italiana is an old fashioned street festival with authentic Italian food and live entertainment.

Admission is free.


St. George Island Oyster Spat Festival - October 9 & 10, 2009

Hours: (Eastern Time Zone) events at various times starting at 8 a.m.

St. George Island on the beach, 850-653-8678 (Franklin County TDC)

www.oysterspat.com or www.anaturalescape.com

Oysters reign supreme at this festival on St. George Island that includes a parade, a treasure hunt, live music and a 5K race.

Area residents are proud of their long-standing oystering, fishing and shrimping traditions, and with 90% of Florida oysters coming from the Apalachicola Bay, they have lots of facts about the humble mollusk.

For instance, an oyster spat is a baby oyster that has just passed the larva stage and has attached itself to its home base.  Who knew?

Festival goers can attach themselves to plates of oysters and other seafood at this two-day festival on the beach.


Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine & Music Festival - October 9-11, 2009

Hours: Friday, Oct. 9, 4 - 11 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11,

11 a.m. -11 p.m.

Frank Brown Park on Hwy 98 (Back Beach Road) across from Pier Park, Panama City Beach

www.panamacitybeachfest.com or www.visitpanamacitybeach.com

Combining three ever popular activities into one huge event, the Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine & Music Festival pairs daily wine tastings with celebrity chef exhibitions and nationally known performers in jazz, rock, reggae and country music.

The 2009 stars include Grand Funk Railroad, Julianne Hough, John Anderson, and STYX.

This celebration of seafood and fun also hosts a classic car show, antiques vendors, arts and crafts, and features wine from local and nationally recognized vineyards.

Bring a lawn chair or a blanket for the shows.

Advanced tickets start at $15 per person per day. Children 12 and under are free. Parking is $5 per car per day.


33rd Annual Boggy Bayou Mullet FestivalOctober 16–18, 2009

Opening Hours: Friday, Oct. 16 at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 17 at 9 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 18 at 10 a.m.

Mullet Festival Grounds, State Road 85 North at College Blvd., Niceville

http://mulletfestival.com or www.destin-fwb.com

The main attractions for this fishy weekend are mullet and music, especially fried mullet, and country music by this year’s headliners, Blake Shelton, Chuck Wicks and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Named after the mullet, a fish found in abundance in the local waters, the Boggy Bayou Mullet festival features an arts and crafts show, a juried art show and handmade and decorated clothing in the Boutique area.

Additionally, more than 40,000 hungry mullet fans will consume up to 10 tons of this humble fish during the three-day festival along with seafood, international foods, Cajun and country cooking.

Admission is $10 per person and includes all entertainment. Children 11 and under are free.


11th Annual Mexico Beach Art & Wine FestivalOctober 17, 2009

Hours: Saturday, Oct. 17, 2 – 10 p.m.

Driftwood Inn, 2105 Highway 98, Mexico Beach, 850-648-8196

www.mexicobeach.com or www.visitgulf.com

The sleepy gulf coast town of Mexico Beach comes alive with fine artists and fine wine at the annual Mexico Beach Art & Wine Festival.

Over 30 artists from across the country display their artwork and vie for over $2,000 in prize money.

Patrons enjoy live entertainment while they peruse the artists’ works, sipping great wines and sampling great food from local restaurants.

Tickets are $10 per person and all proceeds go to Special Events of Mexico Beach.


Taste of The Beach - November 5-8, 2009

Hours: Events at various times and locations over four days

www.tasteofthebeachfla.com

The newest of the Northwest Florida food festivals, Taste of The Beach is like a progressive dinner, stretching through three gulf coast counties over a four day period.

Southern Wine & Spirits is the exclusive distributor for Taste of The Beach. They and their suppliers provide the wine for this culinary and cultural charity fund raiser which offers wine dinners and walk-about food events in various locations.

It all starts on Thursday, November 5 with Taste of The Destin Harbor, located at the Emerald Grande overlooking East Pass and the harbor in Destin.

From there progress to Taste of Bay at Pier Park in Panama City Beach, Seeing Red Wine Festival in Seaside, and Taste of The Beach & Charity Auction at the Hilton Sandestin Beach in Miramar Beach. Also included is the Telluride MountainFilm on Tour festival at Watercolor.

Ticket prices vary by event and proceeds benefit regional children’s advocacy and medical foundations.


46th Annual Florida Seafood Festival - November 6 & 7, 2009

Hours: (Eastern Time Zone) Friday, Nov. 6, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Battery Park, downtown Apalachicola, 888-653-8011

www.floridaseafoodfestival.com or www.anaturalescape.com

Florida’s first and oldest seafood festival, established in 1963, the Florida Seafood Festival takes place in downtown historic Apalachicola at the mouth of the Apalachicola River.

The highlight of the two-day event is the Oyster Shucking Contest followed by the Oyster Eating Contest. Some participants have been known to eat as many as 300 oysters in the allotted 15 minutes of time.

Mounds of seafood prepared by local residents, arts and crafts, live music, blue crab races, a parade, the blessing of the fleet, and the crowning of Miss Florida Seafood Festival, make this piece of forgotten Florida a don’t-miss event.



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