Nothing says Gulf Coast flavor quite like fresh-caught shrimp. Celebrate the goodness of the local catch at the annual National Shrimp Festival, held in Gulf Shores Thursday to Sunday, Oct. 10-13. Whether you like shrimp steamed, fried or more adventurously prepared, you’ll find dozens of vendors dishing out the freshest shrimp Alabama has to offer.
Attractions this year include an “Outdoor World” area and a “Shrimp Festival Idol” competition, challenging local high schoolers to an elimination-style singing contest. And to top it off, this festival has a live soundtrack — more than 80 hours of music will play during the event, which typically attracts more than 250,000 fans. Admission to this year’s festival is free, courtesy of Zatarain’s.
When you’re not eating shrimp, enjoy the live entertainment, family activities, and an arts and crafts marketplace full of treasures to take home. Want to know more? Here’s what we are looking forward to most about this year’s festival:
All things food
Vendors will line the boardwalk to prepare 200 pounds of shrimp per day for hungry festival-goers. Local chefs, restaurants and groups with a passion for seafood will serve a variety of plates from inventive recipes to popular classics like shrimp and grits.
For the kids
The younger crowd will have plenty of entertainment in a special area created just for kids. Games, karaoke, crafts and other hands-on activities give the entire family a chance to make memories.
A running tradition
Since 1977, the National Shrimp Festival has hosted an annual run for all the athletic seafood enthusiasts. Both a 5K and 10K are run during the course of the weekend, and all net proceeds go toward Coastal Baldwin Education Enrichment, benefiting public schools of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Gulf Shores favorites
While you’re on the coast for the festival, don’t forget the can’t-miss Gulf Shores restaurants that serve seafood creations year-round. This area has plenty of dishes on the list of “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die”. The royal red shrimp at King Neptune’s are a classic choice, and The Hangout is the perfect place to relax with a burger and enjoy beachfront dancing. Is shellfish more your style? Make a stop at the Original Oyster House for a dozen (or two) fresh oysters and a slice of the restaurant’s famous peanut butter pie. For more Gulf Shores dining options, check out our list of featured spots.
The views expressed here are those of the author.