Panama City Beach Seafood and Music Festival 2014
By Jordan Staggs
Photography by Nikki Hedrick
The salty breeze held a trace of fall chill but the stage was red hot as music lovers and foodies from far and wide converged upon beautiful Panama City Beach, Florida, for the annual Seafood and Music Festival held at Aaron Bessant Park October 17 and 18, 2014. Each year the festival has stepped up its game, bringing both locals and visitors to the coast for award-winning national musical acts, fresh Gulf seafood, and what are known as some of the world’s most beautiful white-sand beaches. The Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Visit Panama City Beach, and Visit Florida presented this year’s festival, and it saw great success.
“I was very pleased with our staff and the countless hours they put in both leading up to the event and for the event itself,” said Lance Allison, president and CEO of the PCB Chamber. “It’s amazing that seven dedicated professionals managed over three hundred volunteers, ten food vendors, and twenty-seven retail vendors.”
The delicious aroma from the tents of favorite Panama City Beach restaurants wafted through the crowd as they lined up for a selection of culinary creations featuring everything under the sea such as grouper tacos, she-crab soup, ceviche, shrimp boil, gumbo, and fried seafood baskets, as well as fair favorites like funnel cakes and the unique wine ice cream from Wine Not Florida. Other participating vendors this year were Firefly restaurant, Cabin Creek Catering, Fishale Taphouse and Grill, Hammerhead Fred’s, Marina Cantina, Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant, Shipwreck Island, Fahrenheit Grill and Lounge, Race City, and Smok’n Butts Barbecue, with libations provided by MillerCoors and Jack Daniel’s.
Across Aaron Bessant Park, the grand stage cast a glow on the crowd as they gathered to hear national music acts throughout the weekend. Friday’s concerts set the bar high with the Dylan Altman Blues Band opening for headliners Foghat, the Outlaws, and Blues Traveler. Fans young and old bobbed their heads to classic rock tunes such as “Slow Ride,” “Green Grass and High Tides,” “Run-Around,” and a Blues Traveler rendition of Sublime’s “What I Got.”
Fans young and old bobbed their heads to classic rock tunes such as “Slow Ride,” “Green Grass and High Tides,” “Run-Around,” and a Blues Traveler rendition of Sublime’s “What I Got.”
Festivities began early Saturday afternoon with some fresh faces on the stage, including reggae-infused groups Heritage Band and Panfish, Nashville duo Little Honey, and songwriters Adam Craig and Josh Thompson, as well as the return of a festival favorite from 2012 and 2013, the Andy Velo Band. The tension was high and the crowd restless as they waited for Saturday’s headliner, award-winning Nashville sensation The Band Perry. This sibling trio and their band of fellow country-rock musicians pulled out all the stops for an ear-pounding, energized, and, at times, emotional performance. Some tears were certainly shed in the crowd as Kimberly Perry and her brothers Reid and Neil performed their 2010 hit “If I Die Young,” as well as tracks from their new album, Pioneer. The whole performance was very personal as the trio held a meet-and-greet with fans before the show, introduced their band members, and interacted with the crowd, who no doubt felt like best friends with them all by the end of the night.
“The Band Perry put on an amazing show,” Allison said. “The festival was a huge success from Friday night on, with Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater as a star. Each act brought with it an incredible light and sound display. The crowd was always engaged and really enjoyed the whole event.”
Some tears were certainly shed in the crowd as Kimberly Perry and her brothers Reid and Neil performed their 2010 hit “If I Die Young.”
In addition to the main event, a festival 5K run/walk was held the morning of October 18 with runners weaving through Pier Park, and the preceding weekend was packed with special festival waterfront activities at Capt. Anderson’s Marina on Grand Lagoon. Capt. Anderson’s presented a historical exhibit of Bay County’s fishing and seafood industries and information on the recent changes to the red snapper fishing season, which has been dramatically shortened over the past couple years. Their motto for the weekend was “Everyone get a line in the water,” with free kids’ fishing clinics and a free Grand Lagoon Fishing Classic tournament.
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Tickets and information for the 2015 Panama City Beach Seafood and Music Festival will be available in the spring at www.pcbseafoodfestival.com.