History of the Destin Seafood Festival
Just as it did in its first year - 1979 - community involvement makes the Destin Seafood Festival the great success it is.
On Oct. 5-7,2007, thousands of people will enjoy rides, eat great food, shop with more than 100 arts & crafts vendors, and enjoy concerts by a variety of musical groups at the 28th Annual Destin Seafood Festival. But the event wasn't always the large affair that will fill most of the space at the Morgan Sports Center.
In 1979, the first festival was a 1-day event produced by a small group of local women for the benefit of the small village's fishing industry. "The whole town turned out and had fun and helped," said Fran Beaird, one of the first festival's organizers. She and about seven other members of the Charter Boat Association Auxiliary, including Nancy Cheney, organized a festival on the first Saturday of October that year. "Our husbands were in the business (fishing), and we wanted to encourage more people to visit the docks, take in the Fishing Rodeo, and become interested in fishing. Everything we (the Auxiliary) did was geared to the fishing industry," stated Cheney.
The first festival took place on what was then called "Kelly Hill," where The Lucky Snapper is now located. Mattie Kelly donated the use of this area in which they had about 50 arts & crafts booths, a few food booths, and some activities for kids. They had a flatbed for a stage, where locals provided free entertainment.
The festival was turned over to the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce after the Ladies Auxiliary completed its second year, realizing that it was going to outgrow its small group of organizers.