The Seafood Festival began in 1985 at the Kilkenny Fisherman’s Co-op as a small, community fair that offered local seafood and a venue for local non-profit agencies to fundraise for their organizations. In the beginning, the founders of the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival were all volunteers, and very few in numbers. What they produced was a fun, family-oriented event, that also showed Richmond Hill as a great place to live.
In 1998, then-Mayor Richard Davis approached the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce to bring the Seafood Festival to Richmond Hill. J. F. Gregory Park had just been built, and was basically just a large tract of land with a road circling around it. Linda Barker was Festival Chairperson at the time, and remained in that capacity for three years. This was a new event and they really didn’t know what to expect. The event featured live music and seafood vendors and drew people from outside the city. The headline entertainment was The O’Kaysions, and approximately 8,500 people turned out for the festivities. Over the next few years, changes were made to include a carnival, Saturday events and nationally known musical acts.
Today, seventeen years later, we are still mostly an all-volunteer committee of approximately 300 people (with the exception of a few paid entities such as police/safety, fire and emergency staff, bus drivers, and so on). The Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival has grown to a festival of 35,000 attendees featuring some of the best coastal seafood you can find, cooked in a variety of ways, premiere desserts, and who can forget the Kettle Corn and Peach Cobbler cooked by the Boy Scouts! We have over 50 arts and crafts booths showing their wares, non-profit organizations that serve Richmond Hill/Bryan County, business booth row showcasing numerous businesses around town, and oh, the entertainers….
Past entertainers include Drivin’ & Cryin’, Collective Soul, Little River Band, Lou Gramm & John Waite, Charlie Daniels, Survivor, Eddie Money, The Blues Brothers, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Swingin’ Medallions, Gregg Allman & Friends, The Original Tams, The O’Kaysions and Blues Traveler.