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Stalking the Wild Georgia Shrimp with Grits

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By Wayne Lazarus on September 13th, 2010

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

The ancient live oaks in the historic district on Jekyll Island have provided shade and shelter for the Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits Festival every September for going on five years. this year’s festival is scheduled for September 17 – 19. Beginning Friday evening, people will line up for $3 samples from each of the vendors. Music and entertainment kick off the weekend of tasting, cooking contests (amateur and professional) cookbook signings and demonstrations, and plenty of Georgia shrimp.

1JandDImageJekyll Island is one of Georgia’s Golden Isles, and is actually a state park. It was developed as a hunting resort by some of the early 20th century’s corporate titans. The area originally set aside as a clubhouse was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and is considered the “Millionaire’s Village.” The island has conference facilites, golf, motels and some homes, but it has been kept fairly undeveloped, with its beaches, woodlands and marshes drawing families for generations. It is accessible by bridge from Brunswick (off I-95) and there is a $5 parking fee.

shrimpgrits-270It’s a perfect location to celebrate the combination of Georgia shrimp and grits. Beth Burnsed, director of special events with the Jekyll Island Authority, credits the brackish water along the coast and in the marshes for the slightly sweet flavor of Georgia’s wild shrimp.

“The sediments and minerals¬† in the water the shrimp grow in create that unique taste that can only be found in Georgia,” she explains Depending on the cook, shrimp and grits can be spicy or mild, comfort food or gourmet. You’ll want to try all the variations. The festival was selected by the Southeastern Tourism Society as a Top 20 Event for September, 2010. It includes arts and crafts, children’s activities and three races. (Seriously, if you going to run, could there be a better place than an island with soft sand and ocean breezes?) The University of Georgia Marine Extension Center will have a mobile aquarium on site, and both shrimp boat excursions and dolphin tours will be available.

Don’t miss: The Georgia Sea Turtle Center. This rehabilitation, research and education center is built inside the 1903 Jekyll Island power plant. It will make a turtle lover out of everyone. Learn how they help these big-eyed, vulnerable creatures and how you can adopt one.Spitfire

Beach and shrimp photos courtesy Jekyll Island Authority. Beach shot by JandDImages. Photo of turtle courtesy Georgia Sea Turtle Center. All used with permission.

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