The Gulf Coast yields some of the best seafood in the country, and the Pensacola Seafood Festival is the perfect place to savor the best of what the coast has to offer.
Downtown Pensacola comes alive with food, music and good times during the 35th annual festival, sponsored by Florida Blue. The festival will take place in Seville Square, Fountain Park and Bartram Park, and the good news is admission is free.
The Festival features 17 carefully selected food vendors. The vendors will offer seafood dishes and other festival food. Some favorites are grilled conch, seafood gumbo, oyster croquettes, soft shell crab, coconut shrimp, Caribbean crab cakes and more.
Festival Chairman, Gene Pereira, grew up in Louisiana, and was a local restaurateur. He got involved in the Fiesta of Five Flags Association because, as he said, “It is a great way to meet people and to be involved in the business community.”
“We have a unique opportunity to put on and host a great festival, while at the same time fill the hotels, restaurants and bring business to everyone,” Pereira said. “We carefully choose the vendors and the music, we specifically want to provide a wide variety to appeal to everyone from children to adults.”
There are so many things to enjoy while you’re busy sampling the tasty treats. The Festival is one of the largest arts and crafts celebrations in Northwest Florida. More than 160 artisans and craftsmen, traveling from various cities across the country, participate in this festival. The vendors showing their wares are those in line with the Gulf Coast lifestyle. The arts and crafts vendors will be located in Seville Park.
On Friday, The Fiesta Seafood Grille will be set up for local chefs to show the curious how they make their seafood dishes. The Grille will be in Fountain Park and is sponsored by Distinctive Kitchens. Festivalgoers can enjoy demonstrations on Friday by Distinctive Kitchens, on Saturday by The Oar House, Nick’s Boathouse, Crabs on the Beach, and H20, and on Sunday by Angus Steak House and Restaurant, Trigger’s, and McGuire’s.
The 2012 Pensacola Seafood Festival artwork was created by native Floridian, Victor Bokas. Bokas grew up on the Gulf Coast. The images of the Gulf Coast are infused in his poster design and are frequently incorporated into his paintings. Posters and t-shirts highlighting his art will be sold at official merchandise booths. Bokas will also be signing limited edition posters. Only 200 signed and numbered reprints are available. Posters will be $25 and he will only be signing on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.
Each year there is a way for you to kick off the event, and work up an appetite with a run/walk. The Don McCloskey 5K Run/Walk is sponsored by the Pensacola Runners Association. The run kicks off the fall racing season in Pensacola and will commence at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 29 at Seville Quarter. Run or walk the new certified course through downtown Pensacola’s historic district, through the new Vince J. Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park, and by the Pensacola Blue Wahoos stadium. Advanced registration is $30. Race Day registration, $40. This event is restricted to 1,000 participants so it is recommended that you sign up early.
The Festival will also include a children’s area set up in Bartram Park where children can enjoy fun-filled activities designed with them in mind. The children’s area will be open Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Children can express their artistic side with hands-on crafts including sand art and marble painting. Activities such as a rock-climbing wall and jump houses will be on-site. Face painting will be available in Bartram Park and Seville Square.
The musical entertainment on tap for the festival has something for everyone. Friday afternoon, Nate Pennington and Parmalee will be performing. Roger Creager will round out the evening with his performance in Bartram Park.
On Saturday, the Lean Green Dancing Machine music video with Eco the Butterfly will be filmed on the main stage of Pensacola Seafood Festival between 10 a.m. and noon. Prior to the filming, there will be performances by Team Green Songwriters, Donna Britton and CJ Watson as part of the Pensacola Beach Songwriters’ Festival. Pensacola dance teacher/choreographer, Nancy Haller, will choreograph the dance video, which will feature students from her dance studio. Members of the audience will be invited up to participate in the video.
Saturday’s events will also feature performances by Tobacco Road, Heritage, the Wes Loper Band and the Molly Ringwalds. The Lee Boys and Papa Grows Funk will conclude the festival’s musical entertainment on Sunday.
The Pensacola Seafood Festival has teamed up with the 4th annual Pensacola Beach Songwriters’ Festival for SongFest2012. Songwriters will be performing in a special listening tent at the Fiesta Seafood Grille throughout the weekend. This will be your opportunity to get a sneak peak of the Pensacola Beach Songwriters’ Festival to be held the first week of October.
In the Fiesta Seafood Grille Tent, located in Fountain Park, there will be performances on Friday by Jourdan Pace, Jim Pasquale, Edwina Hayes, CJ Watson and Donna Britton. Then on Saturday, students from the Gulf Coast School of Music will be showcasing their original music. Later that night, Pearl Clarkin, Jourdan Pace and Billy Ryan Droze will perform.
Last but not least, is the Gulf to Table area in Fountain Park. This area will feature local restaurants and caterers who are serving tapas style dishes of their signature recipes. Restaurants included will be: Angus Steak House and Restaurant, Dharma Blue, Five Sisters Blues Café, Fisherman’s Corner, Jerry’s Cajun, Landry’s Seafood, Sons of Italy Buona Fortuna Lodge, The Oar House and Nancy’s Haute Affairs.
THE FIESTA OF FIVE FLAGS 35TH ANNUAL PENSACOLA SEAFOOD FESTIVAL
WHEN: Friday, September 28 through Sunday, September 30
WHERE: Seville Square, corner of Government Street and Alcaniz Street
COST: Free, individual food items are for sale