The 17th annual Scallop Fest officially kicked off last Saturday with 5K and 10K runs down the Port City Trail in the “Race for the Scallops.”

The 17th annual Scallop Fest officially kicked off last Saturday with 5K and 10K runs down the Port City Trail in the “Race for the Scallops.”

More than 70 runners were treated to beautiful weather as they took a scenic path from Frank Pate Park, down the trail to Gulf Coast State College and back. The winner of the 5K finished in 17 minutes.

“We had a fantastic turnout for the race and were amazed by the skill level of the athletes,” said Chamber Director Paula Pickett. “The weather was fantastic, the turnout was wonderful and it couldn’t have been better.”

On Sunday, the race continued with a 24-mile “fun ride” for bicyclists that began at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park on Cape San Blas, went to Salinas Park and then looped back around.

Of the 20 riders, the majority of cyclists came to conquer the 45-mile leg and continued on to the Franklin County line before turning around and returning to the state park.

Cyclists were treated to a family of deer near the start of the race and though the rain held off for the majority of the day, the final two hours had riders more damp than when they started. Riders completed the 45-mile stretch in just over two and half hours.

“It was pretty picturesque,” said Pickett. “Our state park shined.”

Pickett chose the running and biking events to help get people into different parts of the community and was encouraged by the growing interest she sees in physical and bicycling activities in the area.

The “Race for the Scallops” was sponsored by Velo Bicycle Shop on Reid Avenue and the Friends of the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.

This weekend, the party moves to George Core Park where on Friday, Aug. 2, admission and music will begin at 5 p.m. ET. Vendors will line the park with more than 70 stations to sell arts, crafts and wares. Southern-inspired music will fill the park all weekend while the gates are open.

The Currys, who recently funded their upcoming album with the help of Kickstarter, will take the stage first on Friday, followed by Flabbergasted and local staple Jim Morris will round out the night. Music will go until 11 p.m. ET.

Gates open on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET for the classic car show that take place inside the gates, along Miss Zola’s Drive. Prizes will be awarded in eight categories. The Sacred Heart Guild will host a Ducky Derby fundraiser where kids can purchase a rubber duck to be dropped into the George Core lagoon. The owners of the first ducks to make it across the water will receive prizes and have a chance at nabbing a grand prize of an iPad mini.

The Kidz zone will give the little ones a place to work off some excess energy and enjoy games and crafts.

Food vendors will be selling fried scallop plates along with other delicacies and five-pound bags of frozen scallops can be purchased for $35. Pre-packed ice chests will also be sold on-site for $5 to accommodate any impulse scallop purchases.

Saturday’s music starts when the gates open and the lineup will include Bowen and Bowman, Reed Waddle, King Cotton, The Sauce Boss, Cadillac Willy and the Kevin Jacobs Band.

The festival will close on Sunday, with Worship by the Bay at 9 a.m. ET sponsored by the First United Methodist Church and a Brunch by the Bay at Sunset Coastal Grill at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Local Christian-rock band, Thirty-Three, will take the stage at George Core Park at 1 p.m. ET and the final leg of the “Race for the Scallops” event will be with a kayak and paddleboard event starting at George Core Park.

An event this big can’t hope to survive without the aid of volunteers and Pickett reported that there are still positions available for those who wish to help. She estimates that 100 volunteers are needed and responsibilities range from handing out wristbands at the gate, selling T-shirts, serving scallops, or operating the ever-popular beer tent.

Pre-sale shirts have already sold out and Pickett has added another gate for the event located by the Marina Cove Fountain.

Admission to the Scallop Festival is $5 for Aug. 2-3. Admission is free for children under 6 and military personnel.