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Jammin at Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival
Chamber of commerce weather helps attendance
Large crowds filled J.F. Gregory Park for the 17th annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival last weekend. Above, country-music artist Joe Nichols, the headliner, performs on-stage Saturday night. - photo by Julia Harison

The Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce’s biggest event of the year benefitted from “chamber of commerce” weather.

Helped by the weekend’s blue skies and comfortable temperatures, the 17th annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival drew more than 30,000 visitors from Friday through Sunday, according to Chamber Executive Director Brianne Yontz.

Attendance for all the three days of the festival was up from last year’s numbers, she added.

“We couldn’t have asked for better weather,” Yontz said. “It was a ‘chamber of commerce’ weather weekend for sure — just about perfect.”
Organizers hope to have excess funds from the festival so they can work with the city of Richmond Hill on continued improvements in J.F. Gregory Park, Yontz said. The electrical system previously was updated and the restrooms were renovated just prior to this year’s festival.

“These improvements benefit everyone who utilizes the park year-round,” she said.

Country singer Joe Nichols took the stage Saturday night to headline this year’s three-day schedule of entertainers.

In all, 16 musical and dancing acts performed.

Of course, the booths set up throughout J.F. Gregory Park offered plenty of places to buy seafood.
The booths included 35 food vendors, 31 arts-and-crafts vendors, 28 businesses and eight nonprofit organizations.

Yontz attributed much of the festival’s success to the hundreds of GOSF volunteer workers, “many of whom actually closed their business or took personal time off from their jobs to volunteer at the festival all weekend,” she said.

Prior to opening to the public, the GOSF continued an annual tradition of treating Bryan County special-needs children to a day at the festival. About 150 children and their families enjoyed the carnival and lunch Friday afternoon.

And since it’s never too early to start planning, Yontz offered a reminder that the festival always is the third weekend in October. That means the 18th annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival is set for Oct. 14-16, 2016.

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