Nothing quite like spending a day with a few hundred thousand of your closest friends.
Center Street in Amelia Island was full to overflowing as we stepped off the ferry from St. Mary’s this morning. Why, you might ask, would we drive all the way to Georgia to come back to Amelia Island for the Shrimp Fest? Well, we thought we’d park in St. Mary’s and take the boat … about a 25 minute commute … and avoid the traffic jams and parking nightmare that is any event of this type. Unfortunately, Andie and I had reservations, but not Gwen (who drove) and Pam … so they drove back to Amelia anyway while we rode the boat. It turned out there were several no-shows, and they could have been on the ferry with us. But oh well. It was a very nice boat ride down to Amelia courtesy of Captain Curt. As we walked up the ramp from the dock, we were absorbed by the crowd.
Hundreds of booths lined the streets showing all kinds of art. Photography, sculpture, primitive pottery, glasswork, stained glass, beadwork, oils, watercolors, from traditional to modern and abstract.
There were plenty of pirates in attendance, and they stormed the island around lunch time. This one seemed to be more suited to the steel drums than steel blades. Many of the volunteers were wearing pirate costumes. I’m not sure the sunglasses are exactly period, but neither were the shorts.
The event is called a “Shrimp Festival”, and there was no shortage of shrimp. Boiled, fried, seasoned, cajun style, shrimp pie, even (and I’m not making this up) shrimp ice cream. No, I didn’t try any. I did have a wonderfully unhealthy fried seafood lunch, which included fried shrimp, fish, and hushpuppies … a crab cake in a crab shell, and french fries. I managed to have only a nibble of funnel cake, a couple of bites of a big cookie, and lots and lots of water. All the while walking up and down Center street, as well as many of the side streets, each lined with dozens of vendors.
Many of those were antique dealers, though a lot of it resembled a gigantic flea market. Everything from costume jewelry to a suit of armor was on display. There were a couple of gems. This Kodak Brownie camera was in near new condition, and on display with a half-dozen other antique cameras. An antique furniture dealer had 5 very nice Hoosier cabinets on display. They were popular in kitchens in the early part of the 20th century, featuring built in storage canisters and a flour bin. One had a sifter integrated in the cabinet. All were made with a metal counter surface that could be pulled out from underneath the cabinet top. Another vendor had a couple of old Victrolas, and an Edison cylinder recorder.
The Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival continues Sunday. It’s a free event, except for the parking, and the food is pretty reasonable. I did pay $2 for a bottle of water a couple of times, but I’d have paid more to stay hydrated. Take your sunscreen and a healthy dose of patience for dealing with the crowds, and you’re likely to have a good time.