By Kelly Baughman

The 47th Annual National Shrimp Festival is almost here!  Set to hit the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama October 11th through October 14th, the Festival is one of the nation’s premier outdoor festivals featuring over 300 vendors that offer fine art, arts and crafts, a retail marketplace, and of course, SHRIMP!!

Voted as one of the 21 best food and drink festivals in North America by flightnetwork.com, the National Shrimp Festival attracts over 300,000 people to the coast each year.  More than 200 artists from all over the nation will be displaying unique arts and crafts along with two stages that will be offering continuous entertainment throughout the four day festival.

Along with some of the best food you’ll ever taste and most original art you’ll ever see, the National Shrimp Festival will feature over 100 hours of musical acts on two stages.  Kicking off the festivities on Thursday, October 11th, you’ll find acts like Top Hat & Jackie, Bruce Smelley, Betsey Badwater, Tyler Mac, Style the Band, Adam Holt, and Souled Out, just to name a few.

Then on Friday, October 12th, the music continues with acts like Lisa Christian, The Tip Tops, Brent Burns, Sugarcane Jane, Johnny Hayes & the Love Seats, and Bag of Donuts.

On Saturday, October 13th the entertainment continues with an Elvis tribute with Shane Tucker and the Promised Land Band, River Dan, Elaine Petty, The Velcro Pygmies, and the headlining act for the 47th Annual Festival, country music star, Joe Diffie.

Diffie, who has had 35 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart, five of which hit #1, will take to the stage at 8:30 pm.  With his hit songs like ‘Pick Up Man’, ‘Bigger Than the Beatles’, ‘Third Rock From the Sun’, Diffie has also written hit songs for artists like Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, and recorded with legends like George Jones and Marty Stuart.

The music doesn’t stop on Sunday, October 14th, when you can catch acts like Rusty Tabor, Andy Smith, Voodoo Bayou, and Strictly Isbell before the festival comes to a close.

While you’re there, be sure to check out the Shrimp Festival Singing for Scholarships event on Saturday, October 13th at 10 a.m.  Since 2013, this singing competition has featured local Baldwin County students selected to represent their high school to vie for thousands of dollars in scholarship money for both the contestant and the school they are representing. 

After you’ve heard some of the best up and coming local talent Baldwin County has to offer, stick around to see some of the cutest kids on the island at the Little Miss Shrimp Festival Contest at 11:30 a.m.  Each age group will have a crowned queen, 1st runner-up, and a 3-princess court that will be introduced and reign at the 47th Annual National Shrimp Festival’s Coastal Alabama Business Chamber Stage on Saturday, October 13th.

Make sure to bring the whole family and check out the Children’s Activity Village where they can try their hand at arts and crafts, supervised activities while mom and dad shop around, games, face painting and much more.

Want to get in a few extra moments in the sand?  Well grab your shovels and buckets and enter the Sand Sculpture Contest to be held on Saturday, October 13th.  Registration begins at 11am and judging will begin at 3 pm.  Each team may have a maximum of 4 members, and categories will be 5-10 years, 11-15 years, 16 years & up, and Family (all ages).  Prizes will be given in each category.  There will be a $100 cash prize in the Family Category, so grab you kids and get sculpting!

Since 1981, the Shrimp Festival has been known for its annual poster art contest, which produces the famous Shrimp Festival Posters and T-shirts.  This year’s winning poster was created and designed by Loran Chavez of Fairhope, AL.  As an artist who is no stranger to the contest having also been the winner back in 2013, Chavez’s design was chosen out of 32 entries from all over the country.

The winning poster was voted on by the Shrimp Festival Committee last month. The committee is made up of over 100 volunteers who help coordinate and organize the festival.  Ms. Chavez was presented with a prize of $1000.00 and will be present on Sat, Oct. 14 during the Annual National Shrimp Festival to sign posters and souvenirs for festival attendees. 

“The poster represents the Shrimp Festival as a whole. It incorporates its main themes of music, art, and food,” said Festival Chairman Spencer Cade.  “It has become an important brand for each official year and serves as the unique piece for that year.” 

You can get your poster print during The Annual National Shrimp Festival on Oct. 11-14, 2018. For all other years, you can shop at www.myshrimpfest.com.

Admission is free for the Festival and it will be open from 10 am to 10 pm daily.  No pets, coolers or glass will be allowed inside the venue.  

For a full list of entertainers and vendors that are scheduled to appear at the Festival, visit www.myshrimpfest.com.