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Seafood Festival gets under way Friday
Bands, food, rides, more on the menu
The Seafood Fest begins Friday at 5 p.m. - photo by File photo

Seafood, carnival rides, arts and crafts, kettle corn, peach cobbler and plenty of live music headlined by the Grammy winning band Blues Traveler is on tap this weekend at the 16thannual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival presented by Southern Eagle Distributing at J.F. Gregory Park in Richmond Hill.

The gates open to the public at 5 p.m. Friday and don’t close until Sunday afternoon, and more than 100 vendors will be on hand, many of them representing local nonprofits or civic groups.

And while seafood is still a mainstay. it’s far from the only thing on the menu.

Music, in particular, has become a staple of the GOSF.

There’s the aforementioned Blues Traveler, whose 1990s hit “Run-Around” still gets plenty of airplay, hitting the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday night. The band continues to tour – its website says it averages about 250 shows a year and recently released its 11thstudio album, Suzie Cracks the Whip.

There’s the Swingin’ Medallions, the South Carolina-based “party band of the South” whose 1966 hit “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” still resonates at beach parties from Louisiana to North Carolina and beyond. The band, which performs at 9 p.m. Friday, was immortalized by Lewis Grizzard, who in 1993 wrote, “Even today, when I hear the Swingin’ Medallions sing ‘Double Shot of My Baby’s Love,’ it makes me want to stand outside in the hot sun with a milkshake cup full of beer in one hand and a slightly drenched 19-year-old coed in the other.”

The Medallions perform from 9-11 p.m. Friday night.

And for those too young to remember Grizzard or the Medallions or Blues Traveler, there’s iHeart Radio-sponsored “hip-pop” star Jake Miller, who will perform Saturday from 7:20 p.m. to 7:50 p.m.

“He’s a very up and coming young entertainer,” said Janet Thayer, who heads up the GOSF’s entertainment committee.

Other acts include regional and local acts such Thomas Claxton, who performs from 7-8:30 p.m. Friday; the Andrew Gill Band, which performs from 4:30-5:35 p.m. Saturday; Georgia Fire Band at 6-7 p.m. Saturday; Winfield & Stewart from 8-8:50 p.m. Saturday.

It’s an eclectic mix made even more so when you add the Richmond Hill Middle School Band, which plays for an hour starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, and local dance studio peformers from Off Broadway, The Studio Dancers, Kelly & Co. Studios, Dancing Unlimited and Life Moves Studios, who’ll perform one after another beginning at 11:30 a.m.  

“We want bands that have a mass appeal,” said Thayer, who has been involved with the GOSF from the outset. “We want to appeal to the young crowd all the way up to the baby boomers. So we try to put together a collective group of entertainer on the stage that will appeal to everyone.”

That seems easier said than probably done. Thayer said she and her committee members listen to “anywhere from 100-125 bands to get our selection.”

She also praised iHeart Radio’s Wes Peper, who “helped tremendously with our selection and advancing for the show and the signup” of acts.

Organizers say roughly 30,000-35,000 people have attended the GOSF over its 3-day run in recent years, and Thayer said she’s aiming higher in 2014.  

“I’m hoping to have a record crowd this year,” Thayer said.

The more, the merrier it’ll be for local businesses and nonprofits – and the Richmond Hill Bryan County Chamber of Commerce, which uses the GOSF as its biggest fundraiser of the year.

Bonnie Proctor, a veteran Seafood Festival organizer, said the event helps everyone involved.

“Because of the Seafood Festival we’re able to do bigger and better things for our local businesses, and when the festival has been profitable we’ve been able to share the profits with the nonprofits who participated,” she said.

Friday and Sunday admission is $5 for adults and kids ages 6-15. no re-entry into the park on either day unless you buy another pass.

That changes on Saturday this year. Saturday admission for adults is $10 all day and allows ticket holder to leave and re-enter the GOSF. Admission for kids ages 6-15 is $5 and also allows re-entry.

Kids 5 and under get in free all weekend.

Carnival prices:

Wristbands for unlimited rides are $20 for 5-11 p.m. Friday; Saturday prices are $17 for 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., $20 for 4-11 p.m., or $30 for an all-day pass. Sunday is $20 for 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Individual tickets can also be purchased. Prices vary by ride.

Organizers suggest festival goers bring cash, though ATMs will be available at the park. Those who intend to purchase beer or wine will need a “valid government issued photo ID,” because everyone gets carded.



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