The 13th annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival rolls into J.F. Gregory Park tonight, bringing carnival rides, arts and crafts, delectable seafood and much more to area residents and tourists alike.
The festival is expected to draw tens of thousands of attendees, according to Brianne Yontz, executive director of the Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce.
“The festival has averaged over 30,000 people the past couple of years, so we’re expecting close to that this year,” she said. “And I think with the weather forecast, we’re looking for that.”
The festival opens at 5 p.m. today, and there will be a 5K Crab Crawl hosted by Energy Oasis Health Club and Day Spa at 6 p.m.
Yontz said there will be more than 100 vendors, including dozens of food vendors, and plenty of entertainment through the weekend.
“This year, for the first time, we have two headlining bands, Orleans on Friday and 38 Special on Saturday,” she said. “So we’re pretty excited about that.”
Orleans, which takes the stage around 9 o’clock tonight, may be best remembered for its megahits “Dance With Me,” “Still The One” and “Love Takes Time.”
38 Special, best known for its chart-toppers “Hold On Loosely,” “Rockin’ Into the Night,” “Caught Up in You” and more, will take the stage around 9 p.m. Saturday.
The festival will be open from 5-11 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the festival is cash only, though there will be ATMs on site. Admission is $5 for adults except from 4-11 p.m. Saturday, when the cost for adults increases to $15. Children ages 4-12 get in for $3, and all children 3 and younger are free.
Some vendors may have their own credit card machines, Yontz said, but the majority of the festival will be cash only. Additionally, anyone who plans to purchase beer or wine at the festival should bring valid government-issued photo identification.
Although there is no on-site parking, Yontz said free parking will be available in the old Kroger parking lot near the intersection of highways 17 and 144, at Richmond Hill Primary and Richmond Hill Elementary schools off of Highway 144 and at Hobart Corp. on Highway 17. A complimentary shuttle service will run continuous routes during festival hours.
Children with special needs and their family members will have the chance to enjoy the festival at 11 a.m. Friday before the official opening, Yontz said. Area businesses donate to the occasion so children can have a free lunch, and Kessler Entertainment donates wristbands so they can enjoy the carnival rides, she said.
“They can come and enjoy an afternoon with their immediate family,” Yontz said. “It’s one of the philanthropic arms of the festival.”
For more information, go to www.goseafoodfestival.com or call the Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce at 912-756-3444.