17th Annual Scallop Festival a Big Hit for Port St. Joe

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Today was the last day for the 17th Annual Scallop Festival in Port St. Joe.

More than 100 local volunteers helped put together the festival, which is almost like Christmas for many locals.

The festival featured more than 70 arts and crafts vendors, 20 food vendors, and round-the-clock live music.

Rick and Joy Vossen say they like to drive down to the festival every year from Panama City.

"You don't want to miss it. They always have a good time over here. Great people, great community, and lovely weather," said Rick.

"I like the vendors, the shopping!" said Joy.

Organizers say the festival offers a chance for the community to come together and celebrate recreational scalloping in St. Joseph Bay.

"It's something anybody can do, the skill level is minimal, you just have to have a sharp eye. It's a lot of family fun, spend the day on the water, snorkeling, and it's just a really good time," said Paula Pickett, the Executive Director of the Port St. Joe Chamber of Commerce.

Port St. Joe is the most northwestern city in Florida where people can go recreational scalloping.

Because no commercial scalloping is allowed in St. Joseph Bay, all of the scallops served at the festival were from other area.

But residents and tourists alike don't seem to mind, they say they're happy to go scalloping without commercial ships in St. Joseph Bay.

"I don't really know a lot about scalloping, but I've heard it's the thing to do. It's something we might do while we're out here because I'm from up north so it might be something fun to try while I'm here," said Carly Atkinson, a tourist from Indiana.

Recreational scallop season runs from July 1 to September 24 this year.

If you'd like to give scalloping a try, call the Tourism Development Council for Port St. Joe at 850-229-7800.