Though Jekyll Island’s annual Shrimp and Grits Festival did not take place this year due to Hurricane Irma, a special, one-time celebration that merges the festival with the annual Tree Lighting celebration, is scheduled for November.
Announced at the Jekyll Island Authority meeting on Monday, officials said the one-time-only festival will infuse some of the favorite elements from Shrimp and Grits with the annual Tree Lighting event, for a two-day, holiday-themed celebration from 2-8 p.m., Nov. 24 and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 25 in the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District.
“We were all heartbroken,” said Meggan Hood, a spokesperson for the Jekyll Island Authority. “The Shrimp and Grits Festival is the island’s biggest event and it takes more than a year to plan, so simply moving it to another date was not an option. But no one felt that should keep this community down.”
Admission to the festival is free, however, costs will vary for individual attractions, food and refreshments throughout the event.
“This is a huge opportunity to show how much these local businesses, from the restaurants, hotels and shops to the local artists and entertainers, mean to our community, at a time when we’ll all be getting into the holiday spirit,” Hood said.
Jones Hooks, executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority, stressed during Monday’s meeting that this special November event is not a replacement of the ongoing Shrimp and Grits festival. He added there was an approximate $400,000 net loss in revenue due to canceling the event.
Hooks went on to say that vendors will be refunded so they come back next year.
The Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival will return to the third weekend of September in 2018.
For more information about Merry Shrimpmas, visit jekyllisland.com/shrimpmas.
In other business, Noel Jensen, Jekyll Island Authority chief operations officer, provided a report on storm damage and cleanup which he said is about 45 percent complete after Hurricane Irma.
Jensen said Jekyll sustained extensive flooding in some areas, the St. Andrews Beach picnic area was completely underwater and a significant number of trees were lost.
Seven of the 13 tennis courts are open for play. Two more are expected to open at the end of the week, according to Jensen.
Additionally, the board approved moving forward with Radiance Solar out of Atlanta to submit an application in November through Georgia Power’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative Program for a one megawat solar power generating facility.
The proposed site is an approximately five-acre portion of the old landfill located on the northern interior of the island, east of Old Plantation Road between Magee and Bond Avenues.
“This will provide a revenue stream and makes Jekyll a player in this burgeoning industry,” said Ben Carswell, who added that the solar farm could power about 113 homes.
Additionally, the board approved moving forward with EnviroSpark Energy Solutions, also out of Atlanta. EnviroSpark submitted a proposal on behalf of Tesla Motors’ Destination Charging Program, to fully subsidize the installation and equipment costs for 22 electric-car charging stations across three locations on Jekyll where electrical infrastructure is currently located.
The board also approved a consistent naming strategy for its beach access areas. For instance, Great Dunes Park, will become Great Dunes Beach Park. The only exception to this is Driftwood Beach, because it has no formal parking or amenities.
Also approved was the acceptance of a $17,000 Coastal Georgia Greenway grant from the Coastal Regional Commission.
As for the August hotel and gate reports, August hotel occupancy was down, reaching 58.9% in 2017 versus 62.7% in August 2016. Despite the lower occupancy, hotel revenue for the month was up more than $2,33,131 from 2016. Island traffic continued its upward trend, with a total of 95,084 gate entries, up from 94,642 entries in August of 2016.
Dave Curtis, co-managing principal with Leon N. Weiner & Associates provided a presentation on the design and layout of the proposed Courtyard by Marriott/Residence Inn.