OYSTER EATING CONTEST
At most events the early bird gets the best seat. Not necessarily so at the Apalachicola - based Florida Seafood Festival oyster eating contest. Front row and center can sometimes be less than appealing. You see, the object of this contest is to see how many oysters can be consumed by contestants during a 15-minute span. This is not casual pick an oyster from the shell and put it on a cracker competition. The oysters are guzzled. The big, juicy, slightly salty oysters are shucked in advance, counted, and placed in paper cups. Combatants then shovel them down. The only rule is that they must stay down. Contestants have been known to disobey this prime directive. A dozen or more men and women usually compete in the Saturday mid-day event which draws thousands of cheering spectators. Some of the more competitive eaters consume more than 250 to 300 oysters during the competition.
OYSTER SHUCKING CONTEST
Prior to the Florida Seafood Festival's oyster eating contest is its equally famous oyster shucking contest. Don't blink! This event happens so fast that the judging takes longer than the actual event. The fastest shucker isn't necessarily the champion. Each gloved, oyster knife wielding contestant stands poised over a tray filled with 18 of the World Famous Apalachicola Bay Oysters. Often within two minutes a pair of hands have flown into the air - signaling completion. Others continue to be timed. When all contestants have completed their chore the judges take over. Mutilate a succulent Apalachicola Bay oyster and get off stage - you're through for the day. Nick it, leave unsightly loose shell, or commit one of a dozen other dastardly deeds and penalty time is added to your score. In addition to prizes, the Florida Seafood Festival champion goes on to compete in the national oyster shucking championships.
The Seafood Festival Parade begins Saturday, at 10 a.m. ESTand winds eastward down U.S. Highway 98 to the Apalachicola River. The parade annually features bands, floats and dignitaries from throughout the region. Always a treat for the kids, the parade is a colorful and festive way to begin your day in historic Apalachicola. Click here to download a parade participatant application
BLESSING OF THE FLEET
One of the most colorful events held each year during the Florida Seafood Festival is the Blessing of the Fleet. It is staged at Battery Park on Friday afternoon. Several clergymen, joined by King Retsyo and Miss Florida Seafood, bless the parade of passing fishing, shrimping and oystering vessels as well as the recreational vessels from across the country that have jammed the marina.
The historic (1907) Gibson Inn at the foot of the John GorrieBridge is the starting point for the Florida Seafood Festival’s RedFish Run. The 5000 meter (3.1 mile) road race then winds its way through the streets of the charming 165 year old city on the banks of the Apalachicola River and Bay. Registration starts at 7:00 a.m. and the event starts at 8:00 a.m. on the Saturday of the Festival.