Shrimp Festival...with a Twist

May 1, 2020
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Every May, businesses and residents of Amelia Island look forward to welcoming hundreds of vendors and visitors for the Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. You could say that this festival of shrimp themed events kickstarts the summer island-wide. It is unfortunate that the 2020 Shrimp Festival was cancelled due to concern for public health and safety, however, the town will still be commemorating Amelia Island's role as the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry...with a bit of a twist this year.

Retailers and restaurants in Historic Downtown Fernandina were asked to join in celebration by painting their windows. A handful of businesses were ecstatic with excitement and quickly began decorating! And for some that could not swing it this year, a group of volunteer high school artists from Fernandina Beach High Shool and Yulee High School jumped in to complete decking the town storefronts in shrimp theme! The town will be promoting a "Drive-thru Shrimp Festival" this weekend while locals display their support by ordering from restaurants that decided to still craft their specialty crustasceon dishes.


Shrimp Recipes:

The Amelia Islander Magazine also created their special recipe issue in celebration this year. Get creative in your own kitchen to recreate these recipes, and then read on for the expert shrimp buying tips you need to know to elevate your next island-flavored meal.

The Crab Trap 

Heat non-salted sweetened butter in a saute pan. Dust
16 large shrimp in blackening seasoning. Cook shrimp
until done. Toss shrimp in a bowl with a coconut rum glaze. Serve over 1 cup of Cajun rice with steamed broccoli and and baked sweet potato.

The Mustard Seed Café 

20 8jj in. wooden skewers
2 lbs. 16/20 jumbo shrimp
2 tbsp. Caribbean jerk seasoning 2 tbsp. pure olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
2 or 3 zucchini
2 red bell peppers
2 or 3 yellow squash
Salt and pepper to taste 

Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Toss shrimp in jerk seasoning, olive oil, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Thread onto skewers. Slice squash and red pepper into semi-even sizes for even cooking and thread onto separate skewers. Brush veggies with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill shrimp kabobs on medium- high heat until pink and opaque throughout, approximately 

2 minutes on each side. Grill veggie kabobs until desired tenderness, turning occasionally. You may cover, if desired, for faster cooking. Serve with side salad of your choice. 

Shrimp Buying Tips:

Did you know?

  • Go wild (wild-caught) for the best taste - wild shrimp feed on seaweed and crustaceans giving them a richer flavor, thicker shells, and the ability to swim freely makes the meat firmer.
  • Shrimp sold in the shell will have the best flavor.
  • Fresh shrimp should have the smell of sea water - if they smell like ammonia, their prime has passed (and you should pass, too.)
  • Shrimp that has been peeled and deveined before freezing will have less flavor and texture.
  • Purchase by count instead of size as the terms "jumbo" or "large" are not standardized.
  • Fresh shrimp has a shelf life of about 24 hours.  Only buy fresh if you plan on cooking it the same day.
Go ahead and book your accommodations now for next years Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, April 30 - May 2, 2021.

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Located just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island is easy to reach, but hard to forget. With 13 miles of beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, and pristine waters, this barrier island has long been a beloved destination for visitors and residents alike.