Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival, March 9-10, 2019

What began as a blessing of the shrimp boats more than 50 years ago has grown  to a major beach-front celebration of shrimp in this quaint Old Florida beach town.

The main attraction at the the 2019 Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival, as it has been since 1959, are huge boiling pots of Gulf pink shrimp, which members of the Lions Club cook and serve.

Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival, March 12-13, 2011
Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival
Crowds line up at Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival
Crowds at the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival line up for shrimp dinners

This isn’t frozen shrimp or imported shrimp or farmed shrimp.

If you have any doubts, visit Shrimp Boat Lane in Fort Myers Beach and you will see the fleet that supplies it. (Shrimp for the festival is provided by the “Penny V” and the “Babe,” captained by Scott Cowles and Charlie Livingston.)

The Lions serve more than  a thousand pounds of shrimp, fresh from local boats, at each year’s festival. Each $13 shrimp dinner is a half pound of steaming pink shrimp served with secret-recipe Lions cocktail sauce and cole slaw.

The 60th annual Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival kicks off with a two-mile-long parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by the crowning of the shrimp queen at 1 p.m. at Lynn Halls Park on the main beach, near the pier, where more than 100 vendors will be set up to share their wares. The parade, in its 58th year, features Clydesdale horses, floats and bands. It starts at School Street and proceeds north on Estero Boulevard to the Matanzas Pass Bridge and the site of other festival events.

The fabulous “world famous” shrimp dinner will be served up the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club beginning at 10 a.m. on both days. (They serve the shrimp all day, until they run out.) You can buy your shrimp-dinner ticket online and avoid waiting in line. 

During the week leading up to the festival, locals attend the Shrimp Ball  and the Shrimp Festival Run for Kids.

All proceeds benefit the Lions charities.

Visit  the official site for the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival.

Here’s a guide to visiting Fort Myers Beach, one of Rambler’s favorite Florida towns.

Tips on traffic and parking:

  • Saturday morning, the Matanzas Pass Bridge will close to traffic from 9 a.m. until noon, so to access the beach from San Carlos Boulevard, arrive before 8 a.m.
  • During the parade, the only bridge open to Estero Island is from Bonita Springs, about 16 miles south.
  • Saturday afternoon and Sunday, San Carlos Boulevard should be clear, organizers say.  Traffic is always a problem — that comes with being an island — but it is less so on Sunday.
  • Parking at the beach is always a challenge in season. There is a pay lot on the north part of the island, but one way to avoid the problem is to park away from the beach and take the trolley. (It’s 75 cents each way.)
  • Here are parking options that are trolley stops: Park at the Summerlin Square at the corner of Summerlin and San Carlos Boulevard and ride the Lee Tran trolley to the beach. Get off at the first stop.
  • If you come from the south,  you can park at either Lovers Key State Park, which is well worth visiting in itself, or at the Santini Plaza, in the 7200 block  Estero Boulevard, and take the trolley to the park.

Here’s a complete schedule of Florida seafood festivals.

Other things to do near Fort Myers Beach:

Where to Stay

Best Camping Near Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Hotels in Fort Myers Beach



  1. Great article and comments. We are “up and running” for the 2018 version of SHRIMP FESTIVAL.
    Contact a Lion, come to a meeting, volunteer to help. All events have a Lion in charge and are looking for help.

    Lion President Fred

  2. curtis brown

    Is there no more blessing of the fleet?

    • The Blessing of the Fleet began with St. Raphael’s Historic Episcopal Church and it continues. In 1952, the church ladies started selling shrimp rolls after the blessing, and they’re still doing that. Now, however, it’s primarily for members of the church who order ahead. Here’s information on the church’s Sunday plans for the shrimp festival blessing:

  3. Looking for pricing for a booth at your festival. We have done the festival in the past, but haven’t been there in a few years.

  4. Pingback: Everglades Seafood Festival 2012: Feb. 3, 4 and 5 | Florida Rambler

  5. Carolyn Van Duzer

    Thank you for the wonderful article about the Lions Shrimp Festival! This is our major fund raiser and your support is appreciated

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