Shrimp and Grits Festival dodges Florence, dishes up 32 acres of fun

Jekyll Island Club, Jekyll Island, Georgia By.John Margolies; Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

If you live in the South, you probably know about the Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival. If you don’t know about it, now’s the time to learn. Last year, Hurricane Irma forced what is arguably the largest festival of its kind on the Eastern Seaboard to cancel. This year, the festival on the Georgia coast dodged Hurricane Florence, and organizers have lined up 32 acres of food, music, crafts, presentations, and children’s activities for the more than 40,000 people interested or going.

The Festival is held in the National Historic Landmark District on the island. There’s a lot of history according to Jekyll’s official historic website:

“In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to become an exclusive winter retreat, known as the Jekyll Island Club. It soon became recognized as “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world.” Club members included such notable figures as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field.

Members prized the island for its “sense of splendid isolation,” beautiful landscape, and moderate climate. Jekyll Island, with its cottage colony and clubhouse, was viewed as a little paradise, where members and guests pursued “a life of elegant leisure.”

Having visited the island quite a few times, I can confirm it is beautiful indeed.

The website provides information on various sites, including dwellings historically described as “cottages” but are in fact larger than most average residences. There are also a couple villas you can see.

If you’re going, be sure to check out the FAQs on the official Jekyll Island signature events page. That way, you won’t get caught off guard if you decide to vape or whip out a pocket knife. There’s good information about parking and all aspects of the festival.

Obviously the star of the festival is a food dish—shrimp and grits. It’s a dish the southern coast is known for, and you’ll soon learn there are numerous ways to prepare it. I pretty much never met shrimp and grits I didn’t like. There will naturally be a shrimp and grits competition too.

When the organizers say they have music, they mean it. There will be three stages with live music.

The festival begins Sept. 14 and ends on Sunday, Sept. 16.

Crazy Daysies Jennifer Day Thompson and Rebecca Day
The Crazy Daysies duo Jen Day Thompson (left) and Rebecca Day.

On Saturday, Sept. 15, The Crazy Daysies open the day’s music, starting at 10 a.m. and performing until 11:15. The Southern Living Songwriters perform after the Daysies, and I’m trying to learn more about the group but so far, haven’t found much info. I will share that when I do.

I’ll share a couple tips based on my experience gained from going to many festivals where the girls are performing. Wear comfy shoes. Take some bug wipes—I use the individually wrapped ones. Hydrate before you go. Mentally note where you park. And above all, have fun.

(Kay B. Day/Sept. 14, 2018)

Featured photo: Jekyll Island Club, Jekyll Island, Georgia By.John Margolies; Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.


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