by John Bennett, JIA Marketing Communications Manager
How do you make the ‘Best Festival in the Southeast’ even better? With a bit of imagination. And a lot of grits! After earning the top award from the Southeast Festivals and Events Association, the Jekyll Island Authority events staff is working to make the 2019 Shrimp & Grits Festival even more successful.
“Winning this award is an honor and a testament to the professionalism, attention to detail and fun the Jekyll Island Authority staff provide our community and guests,” said Nancy Kring-Rowan, director of events for the JIA.
New additions to the festival, which will be held Sept. 20-22, include the ‘Go for the Grits’ 5K race. Participants will literally be going for the grits, with the fastest 200 runners each taking home a bag of their own, along with a race t-shirt. The Georgia Grown Alley is also expanding, the Georgia National Guard is bringing an escape room, and football fans won’t miss any of the action, thanks to a large-screen TV in the Craft Brew Fest area.
The new offerings join food trucks, live musical performances, Kids’ Zone activities, and the Artists Market — all festival favorites. Acclaimed chefs from across Georgia will compete in the Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits Cooking Competition, presented by Quaker. Two previous competition winners, Chef Liz Morris of Eagle Creek Brewing Company in Statesboro and Chef Andrew Smith of Atlanta’s West Egg Café are among them. An expected 45,000 people will attend the festival and the benefits extend beyond the island with a $6.6 million economic impact for the entire Golden Isle Region. Not bad for a festival that was created to bring people back to Jekyll Island after the start of the school year. Kring-Rowan said the festival’s growth has brought the attention of national sponsors such as Quaker, Go RVing and Coca-Cola. “The exposure allows us to provide a better guest experience, showcase the island and provide support for the entire Golden Isles,” she said.