Since its inaugural year in 2006, the Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival has been satisfying appetites and entertaining audiences with a variety of shrimp-and-grits-related merriment. Ranging from captivating guest chef demonstrations and never-ending variations on the classic shrimp and grits dish to live music by popular regional artists and an irresistible craft brew tasting experience, the schedule of activities for the upcoming festival (Sept. 16-18, 2016) promises a memorable long weekend for Southern foodies and other fun-seekers.
Additional features for the 2016 festival include an expanded festival footprint, the addition of a third live music stage, two new lounge experiences, more than 50 beers in the Craft Brew Fest, and for the first time ever, a statewide professional cooking competition to name “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits.” Returning favorites include the Jekyll Island Experience Pavilion, a Southern Living Pavilion, family-friendly entertainment, and more than 100 hand-selected art and craft vendors.
The festival kicks off Friday evening (Sept. 16) with day one of the three-day Craft Brew Fest, along with live music and lifestyle demonstrations. Saturday is chock-full of exciting events, including live music from local and regional artists, wildlife encounters, and engaging family-friendly activities.
Sunday morning, chefs from around the state will compete for the title of “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits” and the honor of cooking for Gov. Nathan Deal. This fierce competition, in which recipe entries must consist of at least five “Georgia Grown” food products, will be judged by Executive Chef and Explore Georgia’s Official Culinary Explorer Jennifer Hill Booker; Southern Living contributor, Rebecca Lang; and CNN/HLN culinary journalist, Henna Bakshi.
So, what can you expect?
The Best of Local Restaurants and Caterers from the Golden Isles will show off their cooking chops with signature shrimp and grits dishes, along with other favorites, throughout the weekend. During Friday’s special Sample Night, festival attendees can get their first taste of each proprietor’s signature dish for only $5 per sample.
Live Entertainment abounds Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the main lawn, riverfront lawn, and at the Skeet House. Regional favorites take the stage throughout the weekend and are free for festival attendees.
Art and Craft Vendors, more than 100 of them, will be spread throughout the Historic District. These hand-selected, regional artists will have homemade goods such as jewelry, home décor items, handcrafted gifts, packaged foods, and other original artworks and products for sale.
Craft Brew Fest, presented by Southern Eagle Distributing, will be located in the historic Morgan Center. For guests age 21 or older, sample more than 50 varieties of beer from an assortment of breweries. Admission of $20 gets you 10 tasting tickets and a souvenir tasting glass. Tickets available online.
Kids Zone play area will offer a variety of activities for children of all ages to enjoy, including face painting, scrap exchange, rock wall climbing and zip-lining. Some activities may have a height requirement.
The Southern Living Biscuits and Jam Concert is an all new concert with Grammy-nominated headliner David Nail, Friday, Sept. 16, at the Jekyll Island Convention Center. General admission tickets are $25 and VIP tickets, which include upfront seating and a meet-and-greet, are $50. For concert tickets and information, visit www.jekyllisland.com/concert.
For more information about the festival, including live entertainment stage schedules, VIP, lounge, and Craft Brew Fest tickets, head to www.jekyllisland.com/shrimpgrits.
Jessica Scott is a marketing communications manager for Jekyll Island. As a native Southerner, she enjoys Southern coastal cuisine. Her favorite of these being the classic shrimp and grits dish of the low country. This makes her favorite event on Jekyll Island the annual Shrimp & Grits Festival, in which she gets to taste not only the Golden Isles’ best, but also “Georgia’s Best Shrimp and Grits” throughout the weekend.