Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival Returns for 2018
Planning a major event takes a lot of work. Cancelling the largest event in the Golden Isles takes even more.
On Sept. 7, 2017, just eight days before the largest of Jekyll Island’s robust event schedule, the Jekyll Island Authority notified businesses, residents and visitors that the Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival was canceled. As Hurricane Irma bore down on the Florida Keys, she continued on a projected path that placed her on top of Jekyll Island just days before the festival.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said Nancy Kring Rowan, JIA Director of Events. “The Shrimp & Grits Festival is special to the entire state and has a huge economic impact on the Golden Isles.”
Early reports from the Jekyll Island Authority showed a loss of approximately $1.5 million for the Authority alone. That estimate didn’t include losses felt by local lodging, restaurants and festival vendors.
By the time Sept. 14, 2018, arrives, two years will have passed since the last Shrimp & Grits Festival, and it seems like that is overdue.
“People keep commenting that it’s been way too long,” said Kring Rowan. “The community has been really supportive, and everyone is ready to enjoy this fun-filled event.”
Three Days of Food and Fun
The 2018 Shrimp & Grits Festival, presented by Southern Living, is three days of food, art, live entertainment, kids activities, a cruise-in car show and a Craft Brew Fest. But, the star of the weekend is definitely shrimp and grits, with the entire Riverfront Lawn dedicated to the coastal favorite.
Parking for the festival is easier than ever, thanks to a partnership with Glynn County Schools. For a second year, guests will park at the Jekyll Island Airport and catch a free, air-conditioned ride to the festival entrance. Buses will begin running an hour before the festival begins and continue for 90 minutes after the festival closes.
“Friday night is half-price sample night,” said Kring Rowan. “It’s always popular, as guests like to try the different takes on shrimp and grits.”
Saturday includes the Georgia's Best Shrimp & Grits cooking competition in which chefs from across the state compete for the title of best dish in the state, as well as a cash prize. The 2016 winner, Chef Andrew Smith of Atlanta’s West Egg Café, returns to defend his title against regional winners Aubri Lane’s of Milledgeville; Eagle Creek Brewing Company of Statesboro; Honey Café of Millen; Southern Soul Barbeque of St. Simons Island; Sweet Potato Café of Stone Mountain; and the LOCAL Kitchen:Bar of Tifton.
The always-popular Southern Living Pavilion returns with a full weekend of cooking and lifestyle demonstrations from the title sponsor’s cabal of contributors. New this year, Go RVing will sponsor a family-friendly interactive recreation experience, Lay’s will debut a new chip flavor, exclusively available at the festival, and new stage sponsor Georgia Lottery will host a special area with games and a free photo booth.
Craft Brew Fest, Too
Fans of craft beer will be thrilled with the expanded Craft Brew Fest. This festival-within-the-festival will move locations – now on the river across from Indian Mound Cottage – to allow for an even better experience with an expanded selection of beers. With more than 50 craft brews from 20 different breweries, this ticketed experience is sure to be a hit.
Be a VIP
The festival’s VIP Lounge, sponsored by Atlanta Magazine, offers an exclusive taste of the best of the festival. VIP Lounge guests will enjoy catered meals from area favorite Straton Hall, unlimited beer and wine, private air-conditioned restrooms, exclusive on-site parking, and prime views of the live music on the main stage.
Fun for the Whole Family
Attendees of all ages will flock to the Kids Zone for family-friendly fun in the form of bounce houses, slides, crafts, and more. New for the 2018 festival: A cruise-in car show that’s sure to wow both auto enthusiasts and casual onlookers alike will join the festival.
“As we get closer to the festival, support pours in from around the state,” said Kring Rowan. “We’re expecting friends from near and far to come over for the day or weekend and enjoy this beloved event.”
2018 Festival Hours and Admission Information
- Friday, Sept. 14, 4-9 p.m.
- Saturday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
General admission to the 2018 Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival is free, but a $10 parking fee will be in effect from Friday, Sept. 14, through Sunday, Sept. 16. An overview of all festival activities, as well as ticket information for the VIP Lounge and Craft Brew Fest, can be found at www.jekyllisland.com/shrimpgrits.