Lindsay Dale looked out upon a beautiful Jekyll Island landscape, draped in the golden sunset. Thousands milled around beneath the live oaks of the island’s historic district, enjoying last year’s Shrimp & Grits Festival.

And this year, that view inspired the design for the 14th annual festival’s official poster art, which Dale created.

Dale, who works as a graphic designer for the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA), is the first JIA employee to design the annual poster art for the festival. This artwork is used for festival advertising and merchandise, and the pieces are coveted by many.

“This was my view all weekend,” Dale says, gesturing toward the poster art, which includes a pink shrimp in the foreground, behind which looms the Sidney Lanier Bridge at sunset. “It’s incorporating music, art, food, fun, of course, the almighty shrimp and a little bit of Jekyll, with the sea turtle, the marsh grass and the Sidney Lanier.”

The Shrimp & Grits festival features the classic Southern dish alongside live entertainment, an artists’ market, a kids’ zone, a craft brew fest, and much more.

The office poster art is used to set the theme and tone of each year’s festival, says Nancy Kring-Rowan, director of events for JIA.

Kring-Rowan is part of the team of JIA employees who brings this massive event to life each year. The Shrimp & Grits Festival annually attracts about 45,000 people to the island.

This year’s event, which will take place Sept. 20 to 22, will offer many new features not seen in past festivals. VIP tickets, which provide access to a private area, will include a craft brew ticket as well this year. There will also be access to a large screen that will show football games throughout the weekend.

A “Go for the Grits” 5K will be sponsored by Georgia Grown. “The people who sign up for this race will have early access to the festival,” Kring-Rowan says. “They’ll run from the airport all the way through the festival and down to the riverfront lawn.”

Dolphin tours will be provided this year, and Georgia Grown Alley will be expanded. A cooking demonstration stage will be set up there. The Georgia National Guard will also provide an escape room activity.

This year’s festival will also put a twist on the annual “People’s Choice” contest on Friday night.

Plates of shrimp and grits will be served up at half portion and half price during the contest.

“The Rotary Club of Jekyll Island is gong to be conducting the voting for People’s Choice,” Kring-Rowan says. “So it’s $1 per vote for your favorite shrimp and grits on the lawn that night, and the winner with the most money will become the People’s Choice winner.”

Chefs from around the state will also showcase their skills for a “Georgia’s Best Cooking” competition on Saturday to make the best shrimp and grits. The festival, which has long been held in September, will be pushed back to Nov. 6 to 8 in 2020.

The festival is free, except for the special ticket options. The three-day event, which has won several awards and recognitions, demonstrates the many wonderful qualities for which Jekyll Island is known, Kring-Rowan says.

“It highlights what Jekyll Island is. It’s who we are,” she says. “… as a state park, it’s very important that our guests have an excellent experience when they come over here.” 

The festival kicks off with events from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 20. The next day, festival activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. On the third day, the festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tickets and additional event information are available at jekyllisland.com.