The 17th Annual Scallop Festival took over George Core Park last weekend for a combined five days of family fun to celebrate the eponymous mollusk.

The 17th Annual Scallop Festival took over George Core Park last weekend for a combined five days of family fun to celebrate the eponymous mollusk.

The “Race for the Scallops” offered running, bicycling and paddleboard events while arts and crafts vendors sold their wares and music played the entire time that the gates were open.

Attendance exceeded last year and food vendors sold out of scallops on Saturday night. No small feat considering that more than 1,500 pounds of scallops were ordered, a 25 percent increase from last year.

An exhausted Chamber Director Paula Pickett and event planner Chellsey O’Neil took some time on Monday to reflect on their first time planning and coordinating Port St. Joe’s well-known festival, a task they had previously described as “daunting.”

“There was a festive flow and a nice atmosphere,” said Pickett. “It wasn’t nearly as scary as we thought it would be.”

The event was O’Neil’s first since joining the Chamber, but she was all smiles as she thought back on the event.

“I’m very happy with how it turned out, and I got a great response. People said so many nice things,” she said. “I was on cloud nine.”

In addition to 80 vendors, 10 bands took the stage over three days and Saturday’s classic car show had 78 entries. So many, that it had to be moved from its planned location in the park to Miss Zola’s drive.

 Saturday’s headline performance from Florida’s The Sauce Boss saw the crowd treated to blues music while the Boss cooked a pot of gumbo on-stage.

After his set, he fed the crowd his creation, though he had joined in the celebration by substituting shrimp with scallops. The weekend also saw performances by The Curry Brothers, Flabbergasted, Jim Morris, Bowen and Bowman, Reed Waddle, King Cotton, Cadillac Willy, Thirty-Three and the Kevin Jacobs Band.

“It was a great opportunity to highlight local bands,” said Pickett. “I think we’ve successfully transitioned into a Scallop and Music festival.”

Also on Saturday, the Sacred Heart Guild held a Duck Derby.

In the weeks prior to the festival, the Guild sold rubber ducks which were then set across the George Core Lagoon. The owners of the first ducks to reach the other side received prizes that included an iPad Mini and gift certificates to area restaurants.

“Someone attending from out of town can see how an event like this benefits the community,” said Pickett. “It puts Port St. Joe in a positive light that we’re supporting our non-profits.”

Though O’Neil had approached the event with a “rain or shine” mentality, she was pleased that the only thing coming out of the sky was sunlight. Seating was added under the park’s trees and concertgoers enjoyed a nice breeze off the bay.

“The weather was gorgeous and the bistro lights were beautiful,” said O’Neil.

Pickett and O’Neil thanked their “army of volunteers” for their support and said that without their help and the aid of local sponsors, the event wouldn’t have been possible.

“It was exhausting, but extremely rewarding,” said Pickett.

So, how do Pickett and O’Neil plan to top Port St. Joe’s signature event next year?

“We already have some ideas,” said Pickett with a smile. “I’ll tell you next year.”