POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

Shrimp will be the star at this Amelia Island fest

Amelia Island

The 50-block historical district remains a vibrant link to the island's past as a Victorian seaport village and favorite vacation spot. Several homes are now bed & breakfast inns. (Amelia Island Tourism / April 16, 2011)

The notion of jumbo shrimp might not make much sense, as comedian George Carlin once pointed out, but the idea of a big shrimp festival still sounds pretty good.

That will be the attraction later this month at Fernandina Beach, the quaint coastal town on Amelia Island, north of Jacksonville on Florida's Atlantic Coast.

The annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, slated for April 29-May 1, is celebrating its 48th anniversary with an array of family activities including a nationally recognized juried fine arts and crafts show, antiques, live entertainment, kids' games, contests, pirates and food booths serving up the shrimp that is the festival's calling card.

To sweeten the deal, some of the area's hotels are offering deals aimed at festival visitors:

Amelia Hotel at the Beach is offering a promotional rate for a standard room, including breakfast, for $149 per night for up to two adults. Ask for rate code SFPR when calling to book reservations. A two-night minimum stay is required. Call 877-263-5428 to make reservations.

The Amelia Island Hampton Inn at the Beach is offering a Shrimp Festival Special, in which guests who stay a minimum of two nights receive a third night free. Rooms start at $190 per night. For reservations, call 904-321-1111 and ask for rate code SHP.

The Hoyt House bed and breakfast is offering a Shrimp Fest Buffet from 6 to 9 p.m. on festival days. For $39.50 per person, the buffet includes shrimp and crab bisque soup, shrimp with penne vodka sauce, linguine and shrimp scampi, shrimp and grits, garden salad, red mashed potatoes, French green beans and fresh key lime pie. A full bar and drink specials will be available. To make reservations, call 1-800-432-2085.

Although shrimp will be the main festival attraction, it's not the only appealing diversion here.

The downtown shopping district is framed by the ghost tales passed along on carriage tours of the Victorian homes in the "Silk Stocking" district and the history of the port, once a safe harbor for pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its port is among the deepest on the southeast coast, once allowing pirate galleons to enter even at low tide.

Visit ameliaisland.com for details.

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