With an estimated 35,000 attendees, this past weekend’s Ninth Annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival lived up to all expectations held by event coordinators.
Residents from all over Bryan and surrounding counties – as well as surrounding states, such as Alabama, Florida and Tennessee – came out during the three-day event to enjoy some of the best seafood the Atlantic coast has to offer, not to mention some great local and national entertainment, a carnival, and booths of local businesses and arts and crafts.
"This was my first full year volunteering; it was magnificent," said Community Developer Jan Bass, who organized the Friday night’s Opening Ceremony, which included a Color Guard which represented the 3rd Infantry division during the Pledge of Allegiance.
"I have to say it was wonderful – not a hitch," Bass said of the ceremony. "Everything else was tiring from there on out! But I had a ball volunteering. God held out that rain – I walked off the property at 5:45 on Sunday and that’s when it started. Unbelievable that all I heard was ‘80 percent chances of rain’ every where I went all weekend, and it didn’t rain. That’s amazing."
Chairman Janet Thayer agreed that the sunny weather was a bonus.
"I think it went great, we were very lucky with the weather," she said.
"It was fabulous, we had a great crowd. We had over 3,000 military who were admitted free – as a little thank you to them. The entertainment was all great, the car show was unbelievably great, and the food was delicious. We were so pleased with all of it."
Vendors were pleased with the event, too. Lynn Bennett, who participated at the festival as part of the Richmond Hill Exchange Club, said this year will most likely go down as the best ever, having shown an increase in vendor income from previous years.
"It was very successful. While the final numbers are not yet in, it appears that our income this year may be the best ever – maybe even better than last year," Bennett said.
"As you know, the Seafood Festival is our primary fund raiser each year, and provides the bulk of the monies that we are able to invest into our various community service programs," he said, giving out thanks to everyone who helped.
During Friday’s Opening Ceremony, a guitar was presented to the event organizers as a gift to the city, signed by all the live entertainers from the weekend. Melody Steel, who headed the event’s entertainment, presented the signed guitar to Mayor Richard Davis, Bill Johnson, City Manager Mike Melton, Thayer, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Bonnie Proctor.
"These people are the heartbeat of your community," Steel said.
The guitar will soon be on display in the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce office for viewing. Thayer said it’s also not too late to get an event t-shirt; there are still some available at the Chamber office.
"It was a huge success. The food was awesome, the people were great, the vendors were happy; I think everybody had a great time," Chamber of Commerce Chairman Kitty Franklin said. "We still have festival t-shirts left and the winning print can also be purchased at the Chamber office."
Thayer said overall, the weekend held very little problems. Security kept traffic moving and watched over the crowd with a careful eye. But there were, however, a myriad of lost and found items left over Monday morning.
"If anybody’s missing anything, I know the police have lots of cell phones, house keys and wallets," Thayer said.