The History of The Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival
Written by Paige Glazer
In 1985, the inaugural Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival was held on the grounds of the Bryan County Fisherman’s Co-op. Hosted by the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce, the event served as a marketing tool for an entire community, coupled with a fundraiser for all of the local non-profits who participated selling seafood dishes and entertaining the crowds who came from all over the region. The beauty of Richmond Hill was still a secret then, with only a handful of people residing here. Many things have changed since that first event, but the ideals still remain the same.
It did not take long for the annual event to outgrow the venue, and be forced into hiatus until another space large enough to handle the crowd that returned each year became available. In 1998, the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival was held at the then brand new, JF Gregory Park. This year will be the 23rd anniversary of the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival in JF Gregory Park. (Our math doesn’t add up because of the year the festival was canceled due to Hurricane Matthew).
Always the third weekend in October, this event draws a crowd of people seeking delicious seafood, awesome entertainment, a carnival, arts, crafts, business vendors, and also a community, joyously engaging in each other’s missions—still showcasing and celebrating life in Richmond Hill, Georgia.
For years, the festival committee has relied on volunteers to help make the 30,000-plus person event a success. These volunteers have served countless hours in planning the logistics of the large venue, working admissions, adult beverage sales, creating the infrastructure, running ice to vendors, cleaning up trash, and the list goes on and on! Not too many years ago, the festival committee created a program to reward the hardworking volunteers with funding to their predetermined non-profits of choice! Local non-profit organizations apply to supply a team of volunteers who will work on their behalf throughout the weekend in an effort to earn money for their cause. It’s a win for all involved!
We hope to see you at the festival this weekend! The weather looks great, the music lineup is pretty spectacular with local acts on Friday and Headliner John Michael Montgomery performing on Saturday. This year, musical guests include Derrick Flowers, Moss City Groove, Court Taylor, and Josh Aaron Arrangement (Friday night) and Maggie Baugh, Warren Zeiders, Deana Carter and John Michael Montgomery (Saturday night).
Things to know about the festival:
- Admission and Beer ticket sales will be debit/credit card only!
- There are ATM’s onsite in the park for in park purchases (i.e. food, non-alcoholic drinks, carnival tickets, and vendor shopping)
- Carnival tickets can be pre-purchased online— this line gets long.. we highly advise you to get them in advance. http://bit.ly/SeafoodTix
- Prices vary per day, but all children 5 and under are admitted for free.
Pre-sale tickets are on sale now until Friday October 14th at 9am.
The festival committee is still in need of volunteers • $6/hour per person will be donated on your behalf to the organization of your choice. If you are willing to help, you can sign up here.