By: Randy Swift, Senior Vice President Member Services
Regardless of whether you’ve lived here a whole lifetime or are just visiting for a long weekend, you truly haven’t experienced the First Coast until you have witnessed the invasion of the pirates at the 53rd annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, which hits Amelia Island on Friday, April 29th, through Sunday, May 1st.
From the Pirate Parade marching up Centre Street, to the canons being fired from the Pirate ships riding into town, to the music and fireworks kicking off the festivities on Friday, opening night is a longstanding local family tradition. The food booths also open for business that night, and whether you like your shrimp fried, broiled, skewered, spiced up with Cajun flavor, or tossed into a pie or salad, you can jump from booth to booth trying all the delicious variations of the festival’s famed grub. The shrimp dishes are also prepared by local businesses and schools in order to raise funds for their activities. Personally, there isn’t a shrimp variety I don’t like to eat—especially when it means helping out a good cause.
But the festival isn’t just about the shrimp: The art show, antiques, crafts and other activities take up the entire 16-block festival area, with a Kids Fun Zone just outside of it in Central Park. And the best part of it all: It's free! There is no charge to roam the streets, smell the food, listen to amazing music and absorb the exciting ambiance. The rich heritage of the modern shrimping industry is also paid special homage on Sunday at the waterfront with the Blessing of the Fleet and the Decorated Shrimp Boat Contest before the day closes out with music and dancing.
As 14-year captain sponsors of the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, we at VyStar hope you’ll come out, stop by our booth in the Riverfront area to say hello, visit our ATM and enjoy everything about this local custom. One of the best things about being a credit union is being involved in every community we serve, each of which has its own “flavor” … and I can’t help but love the flavor of local seafood!
My final words of wisdom: The island fills up fast, so arrive early so you can spend a full day enjoying everything the shrimp festival has to offer!