Amelia Island has a mascot: It's not cute or furry, but the mighty shrimp has helped shape the island's culture. The boat docks in Fernandina Beach are where modern shrimping began in the United States back in the early 1900s. Tourism is Amelia's main bread-winner these days, but you can still see shrimp boats along the docks on Front Street. For those interested in Amelia's shrimping hey day, there is a small museum on the docks called the Maritime Museum & Welcome Center that shows how nets were made and the trawling technology that was developed on the island.
The entire island celebrates its favorite crustacean this year April 28-May 1 for the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival in Fernandina Beach. The festival began in 1963 to celebrate the annual blessing of Amelia Island’s shrimping boats. Today, shrimping is actually closed in April and May, but that dosen't stop the locals from celebrating with their cached stock of wild-caught shrimp. The festival's activities include cooking contests, a parade with a pirate theme (April 28), live music a 5K race, as well as the crowing of the next Miss Shrimp (April 29). Restaurants throughout town pay homage to the mighty shrimp with special dishes and shrimp boils.
If you miss the festival, there is plenty of shrimp to go around, and you’ll find the area’s perennial favorite seafood on menus throughout the year.