Fernandina’s Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is Amelia Island’s top event weekend of the year. The Festival attracts more visitors to this barrier island at the Florida-Georgia border than any other time.
Always held during the first weekend in May, the 56th Annual Shrimp Festival will be held May 3-5, 2019. There’s a festive atmosphere as reliable as the tides during this massive event. Well over 100,000 come to this outdoor Festival held in Fernandina’s historic district, a tradition enjoyed by generations.
Shrimp Festival Hours
- Friday, May 3, 2019 — 6 pm to 10 pm — (Food vendors and KIDS FUN ZONE opening early at 5 pm). Festival’s opening ceremony is 6 pm. “Miss Shrimp Festival Pageant” at 6:30 pm. Pirates invade Fernandina Harbor at 9 pm, followed by FIREWORKS at 9:15 pm. Live musical entertainment on riverfront stage.
- Saturday, May 4, 2019 — 9 am to 6 pm — Around 400 art, crafts and antiques booths cover eight downtown blocks, plus food vendors and live musical entertainment at riverfront stage. HEADLINE BANDS: 3:30 – 5 pm FIREFALL & POCO.
- Sunday, May 5, 2019 (10 am to 5 pm). Art, crafts and antiques booths, food vendors, live musical entertainment at riverfront. A Fernandina favorite band, The Swingin’ Medallions at 2 pm (first set) and 3:45 pm.
See the detailed entertainment and activities schedule for all three days of the 2019 Shrimp Festival further below.
There’s no admission fee to enter and roam the Shrimp Festival grounds and to enjoy the free concerts at the riverfront stage. There are fees for rides and activities in KIDS FUN ZONE. All Festival food has to be purchased.
Parade Thursday, May 2, 2019
The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival kicks off each year with the Pirate Parade, held on Thursday evening leading up to May’s first weekend. The parade starts at 6 pm in downtown Fernandina’s historic district (route is Ash St., then Centre).
Parade Highlight, The Pirates
Fernandina’s pirates sail along the parade route aboard their ship with intermittent firing of the ship’s cannon. This is a big parade that lasts 1.5 to 2 hours, with the pirate ship appearing at end.
The traditional parade route heads west along Ash Street (from 8th Street) toward riverfront, then turns and heads east along historic Centre Street (back to Central Park). Beaded pirate necklaces and candy are traditionally handed out to kids along the parade route. Right after the parade ends, a free “Sounds on Centre” outdoor concert will be held. So hang around to enjoy the music and dancing in the street!
The Shrimp Fest Parade is themed “Rock N Roll Shrimp,” read related article about parade. To participate in the parade, be sure to submit application by deadline of April 18, 2019.
Known as one of the top fine art shows in the southeast, art lovers come to browse the works. According to the Amelia Island Art Association, the Shrimp Festival’s fully juried arts and crafts exhibit “has been consistently recognized as one of the best art events in North America by Sunshine Artist Magazine. For those attending for the art show only, usually first thing Sunday morning is the least crowded time for browsing the fine arts booths.
Celebrating Fernandina’s Shrimping History
Shrimp Boat Festival
A longtime tradition for more than half a century, Fernandina Beach is the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry in America. First held in 1963 (originally called the “Shrimp Boat” Festival), the inaugural event began with shrimp boat races and a blessing of the shrimp fleet.
About Wild-Caught Shrimp
Watch wonderful video below, a nice tribute to local Fernandina Beach shrimping history. The documentary-style production from the Amelia Island CVB features aerial views, interesting interviews, plus an historic overview (including vintage images and old film footage). Well worth watching, learn why “wild-caught” is superior-tasting shrimp.
Eat for a good cause! All food booths are run by a local, Nassau County, Florida non-profit. This is a fundraising event for many local organizations. The festival’s food booths offer a wide selection including fried seafood plates, low country boil, shrimp gumbo, shrimp pie, grilled shrimp, Cajun shrimp, popcorn shrimp, and shrimp salad. Look for signs at food booths indicating they are serving “wild-caught,” shrimp, or ask. (Also, many of Fernandina’s restaurants serve “wild-caught” shrimp, ask when dining out.)
3-Day Entertainment Schedule
Riverfront Stage, May 3, 2019 (Friday)
6:00 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
6:30 p.m. – Miss Shrimp Festival 2019 Scholarship Pageant
7:15 p.m. – Pirate Parade Awards
7:30 p.m. – The Band Be Easy
9:00 p.m. – Pirate Invasion
9:15 p.m. – Fireworks
9:30 p.m. – The Band Be Easy
Kids Fun Zone May 3, 2019 (Friday)
5:00 pm to 10 pm — Located at Central Park (Atlantic Ave.) Friday evening (only), is “local appreciation night,” offering a wristband for purchase to ride all night. Rick Hubbard and The Kazoobie Kazoo Band, plus Juggle Stuff with Ben Mathews.
Riverfront Stage May 4, 2019 (Saturday)
9:00 a.m. – FBHS Jazz Ensemble
10:00 a.m. – Bean School of Dance
11:00 a.m. – Invasion of the Fernandina Pirates Club
11:30 a.m. – Best Adult Pirate Contest
12:00 p.m. – Sean McCarthy Band
1:00 p.m. – Topsy Smith Memorial Beard Contest
3:00 p.m. – Dominic Gaudious (guitar and didgeridoo)
Saturday’s Headliner Bands
3:30 to 5 pm – FIREFALL AND POCO
Kids Fun Zone May 4, 2019 (Saturday)
(10 am to 6 pm) — Gatorland Wildlife presentations throughout the day. Shows by Rick Hubbard’s Kazoobie Kazoo Show, and JuggleSTUFF with Ben Mathews. Also scheduled: 10:00 a.m. – Pirate in Training Contest (5 and under) and Little Pirate Contest (6 and up). FROM A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY: Photo ops with the 501st Legion (Squad 7) Star Wars characters scheduled from 1 to 2:30 pm. 3:30 p.m. – Learn to be a Pirate with Fernandina Pirates Club.
Riverfront Stage May 5, 2019 (Sunday)
11:00 a.m. – Rebecca Day & the Crazy Daysies (Top country songwriters from Fernandina.)
1:00 p.m. – Blessing of the Fleet, Laying of the Wreath Ceremony, and Decorated Shrimp Boat Contest
2:00 p.m. – The Swingin’ Medallions (first set)
3:00 p.m. – Decorated Shrimp Boat Contest Awards followed by Ice Cream Eating Contest
3:45 p.m – The Swingin’ Medallions (second set)
Kids Fun Zone May 5, 2019 (Sunday)
(10 am to 5 pm) — Shows throughout the day by Rick Hubbard and The Kazoobie Kazoo Band, and Juggle Stuff with Ben Mathews. Also scheduled: FROM A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY: Photo ops with the 501st Legion (Squad 7) Star Wars characters from 1 to 2:30 pm. 11:00 a.m. – Pak’s Karate Academy; 12:00 – Learn to be a Pirate; and 3:30 p.m. – Learn to be a Pirate.
Shrimp Festival Parking & Shuttle Bus
Out-of-towners can follow the posted signs, when arriving on Amelia Island, to be directed to the main festival parking lots. A park-and-ride shuttle lot is located at the Fernandina Beach High School (located at 435 Citrona Avenue). Parking fee of $10 (fundraising for the school). Then hop aboard a free shuttle bus from the high school to the downtown festival area. (Note that Nassau Transit’s Island Hopper is providing free shuttle bus services plus extended hours along their regular route around Fernandina Beach during Shrimp Festival.)
There are also a few “park and walk” lots, with $15 parking fee. These lots are located closer to the Festival area. Park & walk from Central Park (South 11th & Beech Street Ball Fields and South 11th & Atlantic Ave.), city lots C & D at the riverfront, and city lot N at North 2nd Street & Broome.
Shrimp Festival Vendor Map
Downtown Fernandina Marina Closed
Boaters beware — there is no short-term or long-term dockage available downtown during Shrimp Festival 2019. The Fernandina Harbor Marina downtown is closed for major renovations (see related article and photos of the marina repairs project).
For further Festival info, visit the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival website.