When we heard the Annual National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores was cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns this year, we were just as disappointed as you were. Then we realized Orange Beach’s Freedom Fest is just a few days away. While it is not as big as the Shrimp Festival, we believe it is certainly worth attending! But where is it? What should you expect? Will there be music, food, art? We, at Sunset Properties, did a little research for you and we believe we have the answers you need. Here are six tips to help you navigate this newly formed Freedom Fest scheduled to be held at The Wharf Saturday, October 9, 2021, from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM.
1. Get there early and plan to stay all day.
This is the first ever Freedom Fest and it will be held at The Wharf, located off Canal Road in Orange Beach where there is plenty of free parking so plan to come early. The Freedom Fest will be held at the west end of The Wharf, in the same location Orange Beach’s annual Seafood Fest is held in February. If overflow parking is needed, The Orange Beach Sportsplex is available. Oh, and if you are coming early, be sure to bring your sunglasses and sunscreen! Fall days along the Alabama Gulf Coast are usually clear and sunny. And fall sunburn skin is just as painful as any summer sunburn. To get an idea of what our weather is like each month, check out this link to our local tourism bureau’s weather page. We like to say, “it’s always sunny and seventy-five,” but sometimes we’ll admit, we can be a bit off. Our friends at the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism bureau are more accurate for monthly averages. And, for a current check on our local weather, follow this link for daily and weekly information.
2. Be sure to try the food.
Many of us are accustomed to attending the Annual National Shrimp Festival during this first full weekend of October. With the postponement of this year’s Crustacean Celebration until 2022, we encourage you to plan to enjoy some of your favorite food vendors who will be at the Freedom Fest. Be on the lookout for delicious festival cuisine including Cajun pistols, jambalaya, barbeque, shrimp tacos and kettle corn. Is your mouth watering yet? Pepsi is a sponsor, so you should be able to find plenty of one of South Alabama’s favorite sodas there, too! If you just cannot find something at the festival you like, there are plenty of great places to grab a delicious meal, snack or cup of coffee at The Wharf. The friendly folks at the Villaggio Grill and The Southern Grind would love to see you! There will be so much to choose from, no one should leave hungry!
3. Visit with the artists and crafters.
We are expecting to see nearly 100 artisans at the festival. With fine artists, crafters and those who fall somewhere in between, we are sure you will find something that makes your heart smile. Take a little time to stop and get to know the artists and crafters. They are such interesting folks! And, why not do your Christmas shopping while you’re here? In addition to the fine retail shops whose home is at The Wharf year round, during Freedom Fest, you’ll find booths containing unique and one-of-kind art pieces on display and for sale at the festival. What better souvenir is there from the Alabama Gulf Coast than a handmade original piece of art? We can’t think of one! And for the best view of the whole festival, catch a ride on the Wharf Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel is 112 feet tall, one of the tallest in the Southeastern United States. The view from the top is spectacular. Fall skies are always picturesque along the Alabama Gulf Coast and the view from this Ferris Wheel is one everyone should enjoy.
4. Plan to enjoy a day filled with great live music.
What is a festival without live music? Pretty boring, huh?! Well, Freedom Fest planners agree. Be sure to put on your dancing flip flops because the music starts early and lasts all day! Here is the lineup and a little about each entertainer:
- 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Strickly Rivers – an entertaining and fun local duo – get ready to sing along!
- 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Tres Amigos – an enjoyable and upbeat band – get ready to merengue!
- 12:30- 2 p.m. – Brown Barnes Band – a wonderful performer – sit back and let the sweet sound of Brooke Brown’s voice fill the air around you.
- 2:15-3:45 p.m. – Cole Sitzlar – an amazing country music entertainer from Southeast Tennessee – a perfect ending to a perfect festival day!
5. Come for the festival. Stay for Brooks & Dunn!
That’s right! Brooks & Dunn will be performing at The Wharf Amphitheatre after Freedom Fest. We know you are going to really enjoy all the music during the festival, but who can resist a Brooks & Dunn Concert? Not us! We have our tickets! Do you have yours? Check out all the latest information on the Brooks & Dunn Concert at The Wharf Box Office website.
6. Make your accommodations reservations now!
Many people thought that because the Shrimp Festival was cancelled this year, that they should not come to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan. Because of this, some wonderful beach homes have opened up. As fast as they become available, however, they seem to get reserved again! Don’t wait! If you want to stay near The Wharf in Orange Beach, check out take a look at Moorings 414. This gorgeous one bedroom, one bath condo has a fabulous view of Alabama Point and is only a few minutes away from The Wharf.
If staying a bit farther away appeals to you, give Island Sunrise 468 a look. Located right on the Gulf of Mexico in Gulf Shores, your living room is only steps from the pristine white sandy beaches our island paradise is known for. Evening walks on the beach in the fall are certainly ones for the memory books. Did we mention how beautiful the fall skies are? (I think we may have). Be sure to bring along a beach blanket or two. It’s always nice to have one to sit on, and sometimes in the fall, you’ll need one to wrap up in, too. The air just feels nicer, and the waves seem to sound clearer in the fall. When you’re lounging right outside your beach home, see you if you get those vibes, too. It’s easy to see why we love it here all year long!
A third option you should consider is The Dunes condos and neighborhood. Located all the way at the end of Fort Morgan Road, this area is perfect for a calm, relaxing evening following a busy day of activities! The Dunes condominiums sit back just a bit from the water and will leave you in awe as you watch the sun rise and set over both the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay. The views are truly unmatched. The Dunes subdivision is filled with welcoming, cozy beach homes like Dolphy Dunes East, a three bedroom, two bath home that sleeps up to eight people and Shellchase, a stunning five bedroom home that sleeps up to twelve. Some of these beach homes allow dogs to stay with their people. If you’re just coming to enjoy a quick weekend getaway, as a last-minute decision, this may be just the thing you need to make your stay a little easier. Pack up your pup and come on down!
We hope you are planning to come to our little island paradise this fall. If you’re not coming to the Freedom Fest, remember Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival is right around the corner! We, at Sunset Properties, hope your fall is filled with toe tapping, knee slapping, art and crafting fun! Let us be a part of your fall vacation and we know we will see you again next summer!