SUBMITTED — The 2020 Annual National Shrimp Festival slated for Oct. 8-11 in Gulf Shores has been canceled. In consideration of social distancing guidelines and after numerous meetings with stakeholders, as well as state and local permitting agencies, the decision was made to ensure the safety and well-being of our community and visitors alike, according to a news release this morning.
“This determination is being made now in fairness to the many volunteers, sponsors, vendors, contractors, our local municipalities, and local businesses so they are not put at the disadvantage of a last minute announcement,” said Greg Alexander, president & CEO of the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber.
The Shrimp Festival is a free, non-ticketed, and un-gated event that has been built around a family friendly atmosphere. With the burden of attempting to guarantee compliance with health regulations, it is unrealistic to be able to meet all protocols. The Chamber and Shrimp Fest Committee feel that it would be a disservice to sponsors, vendors, and visitors to try and limit attendance or eliminate certain aspects of the festival such as concerts and other offerings.
The Annual National Shrimp Festival has been in existence for 49 years and has grown exponentially over that time. The premise of the festival is to host food vendors, arts & crafts, retail booths, sponsor displays, and entertainment stages on a predetermined footprint. To ensure the continued financial success of the festival each year the model requires attracting as many attendees to the sight who will make purchases thus supporting the vendors. To try and limit the number of attendees, vendors or other offerings reduces the amount of potential revenue and does not cover the costs associated with running the festival.
Shrimp Festival Chairman Spencer Cade wrote, “There have been many people involved in the collective process of avenues and alternatives to organize and adapt the Festival around the COVID-19 pandemic, but the one thing we’ve always been able to rely on in making an informed calculated decision is ‘the known.’ With COVID-19 and the restrictions and limitations that may or may not exist in October, it would be challenging if not impossible to produce a healthy, profitable, fun, and of course successful Festival for all participants.”
“Our goal is to begin preparing now for the 2021 National Shrimp Festival and work toward making it the best yet here in Gulf Shores. We are also working with the Wharf and the City of Orange Beach to bring a new and exciting event there in 2021,” said Greg Alexander, president & CEO of the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber. “We thank everyone for your understanding during these unprecedented times and we look forward to the possibility of coming back bigger and stronger next year.”
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