Festivals / Unique Eats

October is busy month for seafood festivals

October Seafood Festivals in Florida

St. Marks Stone Crab Festival

St. Marks Stone Crab Fest

Florida’s seafood festival season kicks into high gear during October, coinciding with the opening of stone crab season on Oct. 15.

As we greet the first “cool” fronts of the season and the tortuous humidity dissipates, October is the time of year Floridians emerge from summer hibernation.

What better time to celebrate the season than with a few authentic Florida seafood festivals.

For a complete list of 2015-2016 seafood fests in Florida, check out our 2015-2016 Florida Seafood Festival Calendar.

Here are a few of our favorites during October:

Florida Scallop and Music Festival, Oct. 2-3, 2015

PORT ST. JOE — The annual Scallop Festival draws big crowds to this cozy Gulf County community with an impressive lineup of entertainers and dish upon dish of savory scallops harvested from nearby St. Joseph Bay. The festival is held in George Core Park, overlooking St. Joseph Bay, and admission is $5 on Friday and Saturday until 5 pm; $10 after 5. Parking is free.

This year’s headline act is country artist Phil Vassar. Entertainment is included with admission.

Phil Vassar

Phil Vassar

Friday, October 2: 5 pm – Gates open; 6 pm – Bo Spring Band; 7:30 pm – Amanda Cook & Kennesaw Ridge; 9 pm – John King.

Saturday, October 3: 10 am – Gates open; 12 pm – Thirty Three; 1:30 pm – CrossRoads; 3 pm – Buddy Hamm & Mark Swindel; 4:30 pm – Koncrete Soul; 7:30 pm – Charlie and Dana Black; 9 pm – Phil Vassar

Useful Links

Festival web site

Hotels in Port St. Joe

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Destin Seafood Festival, Oct. 2-4, 2015

DESTIN — Like many of Florida’s seafood festivals, great pride is taken here in serving local catches from the Gulf of Mexico. The festival is in its 37th year and sprawls along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk. The main attraction, of course, is the food being served by 28 vendors, including local favorites AJ’s, Brotula’s Seafood House and the Boathouse Oyster Bar.

With four entertainment stages, the festival offers a potpourri of local musical acts from the rock, reggae, country and tropical music genres. For a complete lineup, go here.

Admission to the festival is free, although inclusive VIP passes are available.

Useful Links

Destin Seafood Festival web site

Hotels in Destin

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Stone Crab season opens October 15

Cedar Key Seafood Festival — Oct. 17-18, 2015

CEDAR KEY — Looking for old Florida? This rustic outpost on the Gulf’s “forgotten coast” has a rich fishing history, and it is the nation’s No. 1 supplier of farm-raised clams, succulent red-tinged littlenecks that make your mouth water just looking at them. We love Cedar Key clams, and you’ll love their annual seafood festival. In addition to locally harvested seafood, the festival boasts more than 200 arts and crafts booths with live entertainment around town, day and night.

The Cedar Key Seafood Festival is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and features more than 200 arts and crafts exhibits, live music, a parade Saturday morning and loads of great local seafood. Bluegrass music is the featured entertainment. Read Florida Rambler’s full story on this seafood festival.

Useful Links

Hotels in Cedar Key

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Cedar Key Seafood Festival

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Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival — Oct. 16-18, 2015

 NICEVILLE – If you’ve got mullet, flaunt it. And they have plenty of mullet in the waters of Choctawhatchee Bay and the bayous around Niceville, which is near Destin in Florida’s Panhandle.  An estimated 4 tons of mullet will be consumed during this three-day Cajun country-flavored festival.  In addition to tons of fried, smoked and Cajun recipe mullet, there should be an ample supply of oysters, crawfish and shrimp dishes on hand.  A juried art show is also featured.

This year’s headline act is popular singer-songwriter Joe Nichols, who performs on Friday night. Appearing on Saturday night are Gloriana, country newcomers Love and Theft, and wrapping up the festival on Sunday evening are Bluegrass duo Dailey & Vincent and chart-topping Nashville stars Lonestar.

Admission between $10 and $15 per day.

Useful Links

Festival Web Site

Hotels in Niceville

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Coconut Grove Seafood Festival – Sunday, Oct. 18

 Unlike most of the other seafood festivals on our schedule, this fledgling fest is a commercial event sponsored by an event management company. The venue is Peacock Park in Coconut Grove, and there is an entry fee of $25. Discounted tickets may be purchased in advance.

Promoters promise a multi-cultural menu in keeping with Miami, including Bahamian cracked conch, Jamaican Jerk grilled fish, Latin American paella, Peruvian ceviche, Asian sushi and sashimi, Cajun gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish etouffee, as well as Northeast chowders and lobster rolls.

“Island” music will be the featured entertainment, although performers were not announced in advance.

Useful Links

Festival web site

Hotels in Miami

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St. Marks Stone Crab Festival — Oct. 24, 2015

 ST. MARKS – This community festival has been celebrating the opening of stone crab season every year since 1997, but this historic little fishing village has been around a lot longer than that.  St. Marks was first settled 1527 at the confluence of the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers, near where they empty into Apalachee Bay, and stone crabs are not a sport here, it’s their business.  The weather is always perfect towards the end of October, so enjoy the great food, music, parade and, of course, the crowning of the Stone Crab Queen!

The festival provides a venue for local musicians and artisans. Proceeds from the festival are given as charitable donations to organizations in St. Marks and the surrounding area. Admission is free.

Useful links

Festival web site

Hotels in Perry

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St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

John’s Pass Seafood Festival — Oct. 23-25, 2015

 MADEIRA BEACH – This festival is held at the colorful but touristy John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk on Gulf Boulevard on the busy barrier island separating St. Petersburg from the Gulf.  This festival is more of a promotional event for the village’s 150 shops rather than a celebration of the seafood industry.  The event kicks off at noon on Friday, closing out the day with a Halloween Block Party and fireworks.

The festival continues all day Saturday and Sunday with a juried art show, street dance, fishing expo, seafood vendors and entertainment on the Food Court Stage. At 3 p.m. Saturday, there will be children’s Halloween Costume Contest. Admission is free but parking costs $10.  If you’re camping, I recommend Fort Desoto Park, just a few miles south.

Useful Links

Johns Pass Festival web site

Hotels in Madeira Beach

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Naples Stone Crab Festival — Oct. 23-25, 2015

 NAPLES — This is the third year for the Naples Stone Crab Festival, which celebrates the kickoff of the stone crab season on the waterfront in upscale Naples.  Sponsored by the Old Naples Waterfront Association, the festival is designed to show off the historic center of Naples.  It also helps that this area of the Gulf Coast, especially nearby Everglades City and the Ten Thousand Islands, is one of Florida’s prime stone crab harvesting regions.  Most of the events are hosted at waterfront businesses.

Admission is free, though parking is $5. Free water taxis will transport you to all waterfront locations participating in the festival.  My recommendation for campers is Collier-Seminole State Park on the Tamiami Trail, south of the city.

Useful Links

Festival web site

Hotels in Naples

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