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What You Need to Know About the National Shrimp Festival

"Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There's shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That, that's about it." -Bubba Blue, Forrest Gump

Bubba Blue could have been describing the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores, AL when he so memorably described "the fruit of the sea" to Forrest Gump in the 1994 film starring Tom Hanks. The National Shrimp Festival is a free event that is has been held every October for 45 years. And, rest assured is it filled with shrimp! At the festival, hundreds of pounds of the crustacean are served in every way imaginable. But, that is not the only thing that attracts over 250,000 people to the festival each year. More than 300 vendors, craftsmen, and musicians are on site to provide a wide assortment of entertainment all weekend long. This year, the National Shrimp Festival is from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, October 13th-15th. Here is what you need to know about it:

Chefs Cook and Give Away Over 200 Pounds of Shrimp Each Day

The National Shrimp Festival has several big name sponsors, including Zatarain's, Organized Seafood Association of Alabama, Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission, and Wind Creek Casino. Because of the generous support of these sponsors, the area's best chefs prepare over 200 pounds of shrimp every day of the festival and guests can sample it all for free! But, shrimp and seafood aren't the only things to snack on at the festival. Over 50 local and regional vendors fill the food boardwalk with all sorts of sweet and savory treats.

Live Music Plays From Morning to Night

Live music is another reason visitors flock to the National Shrimp Festival. Each year, the festival hosts over 80 hours of musical entertainment that includes Blues, Motown, Southern Rock, Jazz, and Country. A mix of national, regional, and local acts perform on two stages from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. You can find out who's playing this year at the National Shrimp Festival website.

There is an Activity for Every Interest

With hundreds of booths devoted to every hobby and activity imaginable, there is bound to be at least one vendor tailored to every member of your group. Nature-lovers and outdoorsmen always enjoy the Outdoor Village which features fishing, boating, hunting and more. The Arts & Crafts Booth attracts visitors who want to shop for unique gifts made by regional and national artists and craftsmen. In addition, each Saturday of the festival, there are 5k and 10k races that benefit Coastal Baldwin Education Enrichment, an organization that supports local Gulf Shores & Orange Beach public schools.

The Festival is Perfect for Children and Families

The National Shrimp Festival is the perfect event for the whole family. All weekend long, children can visit the Children's Activity Village for face-painting, karaoke, arts and crafts, games, and more! And, on Saturday, families can enter the annual sand sculpture contest. Another event that is fun for everyone is the annual Shrimp Fest Singing for Scholarships contest. On Saturday at 10 a.m., you can watch as local high school students compete in an "American Idol" style singing competition. Now in its fourth year, the Singing for Scholarships contest is often a highlight of the weekend.

Plan Your Trip to the 2016 National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores, AL!

To ensure you catch all of the action during the National Shrimp Festival this year, book a stay in the heart of Gulf Shores, AL! Gulf Shores Vacation Rentals can help you find the best Gulf Shores beach house rentals for your next vacation getaway. Our luxurious rentals feature breathtaking views of the ocean, sugar-white beaches, and a laid-back family atmosphere. Choose from a variety of vacation rentals, including large beach houses and or small beach bungalows and book your next trip to Gulf Shores today!