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October is an ideal month to visit coastal Alabama as a result of the milder weather, lower rental rates, and breathtaking sunsets. If you’re a foodie, or someone who enjoys a good Fall Festival, plan your visit the second weekend in October. Experience one of the largest festivals in the Southeast while relaxing at the beach. Gulf Coast TravelingMom shares 6 Reasons to Visit the National Shrimp Festival Gulf Shores.
The Annual National Shrimp Festival is a Gulf Shores, Alabama tradition dating back to 1971. As a matter of fact, the Shrimp Festival began as a way to bring tourists back to the Coastal Alabama beaches after Labor Day and has evolved into one of the largest events of the southeast.
Visitors enjoy four days of live entertainment, shopping, and beautiful scenery, in addition to the most amazing seafood. The Annual National Shrimp Festival has been named a “must-visit event” by FlipKey, a division of TripAdvisor.
Most fall festivals are centered around Halloween and other harvest themes. The National Shrimp Festival is a celebration of everything we love about summer, without the oppressive heat.
6 Reasons to Visit the National Shrimp Festival Gulf Shores
1. The Food – Shrimp, Crawfish, Crab & More
First of all, let’s talk about the food. After all that is the reason for the festival.
“You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.” – Pvt. Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue, Forrest Gump.
Ever seen the movie Forrest Gump? If so, you’re probably familiar with “Bubba” Blue’s famous quote on the many ways you can cook the “fruit of the sea,” more commonly known as shrimp. There’s no better place to sample these fabulous crustacean dishes than at the Annual National Shrimp Festival.
The Food Boardwalk features dozens of vendors serving up mouthwatering Southern cooking. While shrimp is definitely the star of the show its not the only seafood on the menu.
TravelingMom Tip: Make sure to try the Cajun Pistols. This is probably my favorite thing to eat at the festival. Amazing.
In addition to shrimp, you can feast on crawfish, crab claws and other amazing seafood fare. Not a fan of seafood? No problem. There are tons of other festival food options to choose from, not to mention some pretty amazing desserts.
2. Arts & Shopping
Another highlight to the festival is the incredible shopping. Imagine yourself strolling along the boardwalk with smells of salt air and seafood accompanying you as you finish up your Christmas shopping. While I realize this isn’t your typical snowy department store atmosphere so commonly associated with the holidays, this is how we do it in the Deep South.
With hundreds of vendors set up throughout the Shrimp Festival, you can find something for everyone on your holiday list.
There is an amazing selection of fine arts from award winning painters, photographers and sculptors. You can also find one of a kind jewelry.
There’s also no shortage of arts and crafts. Looking for a burlap door hanger with your favorite SEC football mascot? This is the place to find it.
3. Children’s Activity Village
Worried your kids won’t enjoy a festival centered around crustacean? Think again. The Children’s Activity Village features supervised activities for kids of all ages ranging from arts, crafts, games, entertainment, music and more.
Also, let’s not forget the festival is held on the boardwalk along the beach. Bring along a beach chair and some sand toys and I’m sure the kids will approve.
4. Live Entertainment
Every year the festival features live music on one of its two stages from 10:00 am -10:00 p.m. daily. Musicians perform a wide variety of music throughout the weekend.
Performers from past festivals have included Tracy Lawrence, The Velcro Pygmies, Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster, and local favorites, The Tip Tops and Ryan Balthrop and Friends.
In addition, there is even a Sunday morning worship service. Church on the beach? Yes, please.
5. Shrimp Festival Sand Sculpture Contest
Like to build sandcastles? Why not try your hand at the annual Shrimp Festival Sand Sculpture Contest for the chance to win up to $100 in cash?
The contest, sponsored by Ike’s Beach Services, is held on the public beach on Saturday. Anyone can enter into one of the four age categories for this family-oriented event: 5-10 years, 11-15 years, 16 years & up, and Family (all ages). All participants will be provided with a bucket and shovel.
6. Shoulder Season in Coastal Alabama – Great Rates
The National Shrimp Festival is held each year during Shoulder Season (the months between peak and off-peak seasons). This is the time of year when travel is very affordable. You can find some incredible deals on beach house and condo rentals throughout the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach areas.
As a local, I highly recommend contacting Alabama Getaway Vacation Rentals anytime you are planning a visit to the Alabama beaches. They offer quality rentals at a great price. Deciding to go to the Shrimp Festival at the last minute? No problem. Alabama Getaway Vacation Rentals offer many last-minute deals that will blow your mind. You can check on rental availability by visiting their website or by calling (251) 216-1590. Their offices are located at The Wharf at Orange Beach.
The 46th Annual National Shrimp Festival Gulf Shores is October 12 – 15, 2017. Will we see you there?
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