The Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival is one of Florida’s biggest beach fests which takes place during March. It is mainly focused on the shrimp eating competition but holds many other charity programs too. This fest is held to celebrate and honor the shrimp industry of Florida.
The huge event has many pageants, exhibitions, and parades running in the background. Let us get a quick tour of the Fort Myers beach shrimp festival.
Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival
Fort Myers Beach had a tropical climate and would always welcome you to have a vacation. The place is perfect for fest during the summer season. So, the Fort Myers beach shrimp festival is held in March, along with many activities. Let us look at a guide about how the fort Myers beach shrimp festival came into being and what activities are taking place during this event.
Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival: 9 Fun Facts
1.How it Came into Being
The Fort Myers beach shrimp festival was first held in 1959 around mid-February, sponsored by the St Raphael’s Episcopal Church. During this time, shrimp rolls were sold on the beach. Parades and beauty contests are held alongside. It was after the Beach day so that something would be left to celebrate.
Earlier it was held on the weekend near the full moon after the Edison festival and not after that because shrimping would be in poor condition during the full moon. Earlier it was a weekend-only event and had parades that are still going on today. Since then it started until today, the fort Myers beach shrimp festival has been going well under the sponsorship, and people plan their vacation according to the schedule of the fest.
2. The Food and Other Expo
During the fort Myers beach shrimp festival, around 100 food vendors and art and craft vendors would come to the beach for sale. Some art and craft vendors include jewelry, paintings, metal sculptures, glass art, copper art, and many more. These vendors would be stationed at the festival grounds at Lynn Hall Memorial Park from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday & 10amto 5 pm on Sunday.
The festival merchandise like t-shirts, tank tops, caps, and other things would be available at the festival’s entrance on both days. To participate in the event as a vendor, you have to give an online application this year stating all your details. You have to provide the images of your product in your application so that they could decide to accommodate you.
3. The Parade
This is an annual practice that happens during the fort Myers beach shrimp festival. It runs a 2 mile from the beach school through the main street of the town to the Lyn Hall Memorial Park. The parade could be watched from either side of the main street road. If you are lucky enough, you will catch a few prizes thrown during the parade. After the parade, there will be prizes for special categories too.
There will be categories like the best business and professional parade, the best civic group, the best non-business or family group, the best group of youths, best-decorated car, best-decorated truck, best-decorated boat, best marching units, and many more. So, make sure that you reach the parade location before the Matanzas bridge closes at 9 am.
4. The Shrimp Queen: Queens’s Pageant
This is the oldest and most sought competition in the Fort Myers beach shrimp festival. The competition has been running for more than 55 years. Young girls between the age of 16 and 20 participate in the pageant. It is the project of the Myers Beach Lions Club where young girls are evaluated to become the Shrimp Queen.
The participants should be present on all the events and must be available in the parade. For many years, this competition is held annually and in grandeur. Every year, the previous participant and winners accompany the crowd and make it a grander event.
There will be no participants leaving the competition with empty hands. Every participant would receive a gift. The prize categories include the Queen, the first runner up, the second runner up, miss personality, miss people’s choice, miss photogenic, and miss congeniality. This event is the grand and most-watched event in the Fort Myers beach shrimp festival.
5. The Shrimp Eating Contest
The soul of the Fort Myers beach shrimp festival is the shrimp eating contest in which every people look with great enthusiasm. For the past five years, the event has been happening and would be coming back with a bang in 2021.
The competition would feature 10 sponsored participants who would be eating the pink shrimp in 8 minutes. The contestant will be aided by assistants who would help them in picking the shrimps. The person who would eat the most number of shrimps within 8 minutes will be the winner.
Also, there will be people’s choice to vote for the candidates by giving 1 dollar each. So, get ready to be excited by this mind-blowing competition. The competition is a world-famous event, and hence there will be a great crowd coming. So, make sure to secure your spots.
6. The 5k Run
One of the most exciting and energetic events of the Fort Myers beach shrimp festival is the 5k running race. It is presented by the Cypress Lake High School Athletic Booster Club and Cypress Lake High School. For this race, you have to run twice over the Matanzas bridge.
There will be people looking and cheering at you from both sides. It will begin at 9 in the morning before the Shrimp Parade.
You have to start at the Doc Fords at Fort Myers Beach and come back to the same place to complete the race. Participants from all fields are welcome to this grand competition. This year, they have expanded the age bar, and even kids are allowed in the race now. There is even a kid’s race where the kids have to take a short one mile run in the sand.
7. Donating to the Shrimp Fest
The annual fort Myers beach shrimp festival mainly runs for charity purposes, and the profit of the fest is given to the needs of the poor. They often give all the funds to the need of the people, but they often fail it when the fest cannot occur, especially during a pandemic like this.
On occasions when the fest was suspended, the organizers ran out of the fund for the needy. In such situations, the donations of the public are the best they can get. They have been making sure that every indigent person gets what they need.
Even in a situation like this, the organizers make sure that funds are raised. For this, they have created a link where they could get the money from the public. To donate to the Fort Myers beach shrimp festival, click below.
8. Traffic and Parking
During the fort Myers beach shrimp festival, there tends to be great traffic to the beach. So, it is better that you leave your vehicle somewhere far that you could get a peaceful walk towards the beach. Most people who come to the festival park their cars off-island and take the trolley to the fest. There is a parking facility called LeeTran where they would also provide you with a trolley to the fest.
You have a tram service on the Island that would take you on and off on the beach. Also, keep in mind that the Matanzas Bridge will be closed at 9 am on Saturday. So, make sure to arrive before 9 am. If you don’t want to park your car elsewhere, other than the beach, there is a spot where you can pay and park on the north and the south side of the beach.
9. A Beachy and Calm 2 days.
Besides coming to the beach and watching the competitions and eating shrimp, the fort Myers beach shrimp festival is a time of family union and fun. These are the 2 days that people from all over the world come together to reside on a beach. People would be having a busy week and would be coming to vent out their weekend stress on the beach. People would be gathering together to watch people eat and parade through the road.
It is the festival of a group of people as well as the region. It is the festival of the people. It is called an old-fashioned American treasure as Americans hold it close to their heart as their treasure.
When you come to the Fort Myers beach shrimp festival, make sure that you enjoy it and get a meaningful and fun weekend out of it. And after all, the whole purpose is for charity and fundraising. So, make sure that you contribute a fair share of your earnings.
Also, make friends of all kinds as this is an international event and you would get to see people from all parts of the world. Also, enjoy every bit of the shrimps and other food you get.
Have you visited the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival? If so, share your experience below.