Amelia Island Events Benefit Locals, Attract Tourists & New Residents

Fernandina Beach has pristine beaches and a marina on the busy Intracoastal Waterway. It also has culture, with a quaint historic district, and charm.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contributing Columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insights on various topics in Steve’s Marketplace column.

Pro BBQ Team, Southern Tailgate Cook-off, Amelia Island, August 28, 2010
Pro BBQ Team, The Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off, August 28, 2010, Fernandina Beach.


Asheville, North Carolina. Charleston, South Carolina. Austin, Texas. Three U.S. cities with varying sizes and locations. But all three possess a desirable triumvirate of culture, charm and dynamism. If there were role models for cities, these would be in the running. And at a fast pace.

Other cities, smaller or larger, do not have to recreate the municipal wheel. It’s already been created. Simply emulate it.

Fernandina Beach can learn something here. Even though the Nassau County seat is substantially smaller than these other cities, it has characteristics they do not. Like a pristine beach and a marina on the busy Intra-coastal Waterway.

Fernandina Beach also has culture, with a quaint historic downtown, and charm. The dynamism is at times the lacking part of the equation.
In these other cities, there is a unified effort to promote the area’s amenities. In turn, this attracts tourists and the money they bring. It requires a coordinated effort, a partnership, between the public and private sectors.

Despite a prevailing mindset of city officials here to restrict or corral growth, Fernandina Beach has begun striking out toward bold, new horizons. The ramifications are being felt.

The Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off this past weekend was an example of the city treading into new territory.  The vacant lawn at Main Beach was transformed into a bevy of activity, with tents and music stages erected for what was an impressive turnout for the event.

Many local residents attended, as did barbecue-cooking teams from as far off as Texas and Virginia. Electrical boxes were even constructed along the perimeter for the event — and for future uses at the ideal location.

BBQs Were Smoking By the Seaside, Southern Tailgate Cook-off
BBQs Were Smoking By the Seaside, Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off

Many of these barbecue cook-offs are held in muddy fields. Here, the participants enjoyed the ocean views and breezes. They also raved about the music, and the town. Apparently there are plans for bigger and better events of this nature to come.

Outdoor concerts in downtown and on the beach at Sadler Road have been added to the menu of activities this summer. The cook-off was the brainchild of Gil Langley, promoter of conventions and tourism here.

The city also hosted several local triathlons this summer, as well as numerous running races. All of these events help generate an energy and appeal for tourists as well as new residents. This should be duplicated — and expanded.

In the past, the city stumbled on becoming a host site for a national iron man triathlon, which brings with it media coverage and a substantial tourism impact. And a long-running women’s professional tennis tournament was allowed to depart from Amelia Island a few years ago (at no fault of the city).

We should learn from these few missteps. Local residents can enjoy these types of events — and also benefit from the influx of tourism and tourist dollars that come with them.

The city and the island have much to offer. Fernandina Beach was just recognized by popular Coastal Living magazine as one of the “Best Little Beach Towns” in the U.S. But this is no time to rest on our laurels.

Steve Nicklas

(Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor who lives on Amelia Island. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or send eMail to [email protected].)


A four-week continuing education class, “Investing in Today’s Financial Markets,” will be offered beginning Oct. 5, 2010 at the Florida State College campus in Yulee, near Amelia Island.

Local financial advisor, Steve Nicklas, will teach the long-running class. The class will cover all aspects of the financial markets, including stocks and bonds and popular investment vehicles such as mutual funds, 401(k)s and annuities.

Sessions will be on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. They will be: Oct. 5, 2010 investing in the stock market; Oct. 12, investing in the bond market; Oct. 19, investing in IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement vehicles; and Oct. 26, implementing a financial plan. Cost is $36, which includes all materials (you must pre-register at the college and make checks payable to FSC).  The college office can be reached at 904- 548-4432.