The 37th Annual Gulf Coast Seafood Festival held September 26th-28th attracted visitors seeking delicious seafood, art, crafts, ice cream, assorted jellies, beer, wine, music, and much more. There was high African-American attendance at the festival billed as one of the largest arts and crafts fairs in Northwest Florida. The crowds were heavy on Friday and Saturday prior to the consistent rain on Sunday. The festival was produced by the Fiesta of Five Flags and presented by Florida Blue. The Director of Marketing, Hillary Turner, shared in an email that, “Despite the rain on Sunday, we were thrilled with the turnout at this year’s festival. Friday had a record number of patrons, and we estimate attendance for the entire weekend to have been between 90,000 and 100,000”.
The festival was held in the historic surroundings of the city’s downtown, the Historic Pensacola Village, and Seville Square with its shops, restaurants, and brewery. The environment was additionally enhanced by the blocking-off of Bayshore Drive bringing the waterfront closer to the festivities with a performance stage and children’s activities. The event this year hosted nine local Taste of Pensacola-Gulf to Table restaurants, twenty-four food and cart vendors, and over 150 commercial, arts & crafts vendors according to Turner with the Fiesta of Five Flags.
There was strong attendance by the African-American community. Black and mixed couples could be seen strolling through the walkways of the arts and crafts vendors. There were parents with their children running and playing around the adults, and infants being transported in many unique baby carriages. There were several new additions in the Children’s Area including a marine life educational program. Touch pools were made available for children and families to experience live sea creatures.
In fact, to the credit of the Fiesta of Five Flags there were several African-American vendors. Local residents were seen spreading the surprise and the excitement of these entrepreneurs attending the Pensacola festival. Two of the visiting vendors were Ginger’s Jams, Jellies, and Such from Orlando, Florida and Alabama Ice Cream Company from Montgomery, Alabama. Both companies heard about the festival and follow-up on the registration to attend.
The Fiesta of Five Flags has come a long way since the General Daniel “Chappie” James Court and Parade as a part of their spring time festivities. For more information on their programs contact the organization at (850) 433-6512 or visit their website at www.fiestaoffiveflags.org.