Annual National Shrimp Festival:
by April Boone
Shrimp lovers will want to head to Gulf Shores in October for the annual shrimp festival. Food vendors will offer up tasty treats and the beach location is the ideal spot for a fall weekend.
Portrayed by Mykelti Williamson, Bubba Blue, a resident of Bayou La Batre on the Alabama Gulf Coast, extols the virtues of shrimp in the iconic film Forrest Gump.
You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. (There are) 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, Bubba relates, according to the Internet Movie Database.
Using the tools and resources at the local tourism website, anyone can visit the 37th annual National Shrimp Festival and see for himself or herself the many ways of preparing and, better yet, eating shrimp.
At the National Shrimp Festival, in addition to the above list, visitors also can taste Shrimp a la Key West, salsa with shrimp, shrimp pie, shrimp fried rice, shrimp egg rolls and Pontchartrain shrimp.
The four-day festival takes place from Oct. 9 through Oct. 12 on the public beaches of Gulf Shores. Admission is free, which means visitors can spend their dollars with the more than 30 food vendors expected for this year's festival.
More than 300,000 people come through the festival grounds each year. In addition to dozens of food vendors, there also are arts and crafts vendors, fine arts vendors and souvenir vendors. Products for sale include clothing, pet items, home furnishings, home décor items, toys, health and nutrition products, books, shoes and food items.
Two stages host musical acts ranging from local favorites such as Brent Burns and Jim Dawg Parks to national recording artists including Molly Hatchet and Jo Dee Messina.
There also is a special Childrens Activity Village.
Oct. 9, 10 and 11, festival hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Childrens Activity Village hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 12, festival and Childrens Activity Village hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A 10K run and a sand-castle-building contest are part of the festivities as well.
Be sure to mark your calendar for the second week of October. The shrimp is cooking, the Alabama Gulf Coast is jumping, and the beach is calling.
For more information, visit www.thebeachiscalling.org
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AUTHOR April Boone lives and works on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Her favorite
shrimp is simply boiled with plenty of cocktail sauce.