Florida on a Tankful: Amelia Island, state's shrimp capital

By Scott Fais, Feature Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, April 28, 2017, 10:48 AM EDT

The start of May is always in good taste along the Florida-Georgia border.  It’s here where fresh shrimp and history make a delicious pair. 

"People have shrimped here, as long as there have been people,” said Gray Edenfield, the young curator at the Amelia Island Museum of History.

In these waters that form the state boundary line, Amelia Island became known as birthplace of the modern shrimping industry.

"It was sort of a dangerous profession, with the crude oil engines that we had in the early 1900s,” Gray said of the old boats that used to put out the nets that caught the shrimp.

At 28 years old, Gray Edenfield wrote the book on the shrimp capital of Florida, the same place he calls home. 

Two museums in Fernandina Beach accurately display the history of the industry.

While shrimping in Fernandina Beach has dwindled since its prime in the early 1900s, the historical legacy continues.

"The ‘local caught’ shrimp is our big buzz word around here,” Gray said.

Look no further than one block from the waterfront to sink your teeth into history.

"This is our number one selling thing on the menu: fried shrimp!" Holly Germano exclaimed.

The proprietor of the Crab Trap is proud to be offering shrimp on the menu from inside a 100-year-old building, still featuring original woodwork, fireplaces and dining rooms on two floors.

"We do it fried, grilled, broiled, blackened, anyway people want it,” Holly said over a plate full of shrimp.

The tables upstairs at the Crab Trap feature large buckets embedded in the center of the tables for peel-and-eat shrimp pieces.

"Most people come back, generations really, because they want to go to the place that had the buckets on the table," Holly said.

Putting a new spin on shrimp according to Coastal Living magazine is Timoti's Seafood Shak.

"It’s just named after my brother," said Bryan Poynter, explaining his younger brother Timothy was “a wild man” growing up.   

The family business made a name for itself as a fast, casual diner where everything is made fresh after you place your order and head out to the patio for a seat.

The offerings at Timoti's Seafood Shak: shrimp meets a healthy, millennial appetite.

"We do a poki bowl with raw tuna. We have a rice box,” Bryan said.

There’s little traditional “fast food” here, where most entrees are served in a paper box through a window after your name is called on an overhead speaker.

"Those things were off the grill and on your table within four minutes,” Bryan said of the shrimp in our box.

One island. Several tastes throughout the decades.

"Every seafood restaurant downtown has great shrimp,” Gray said, signaling tourism is now Amelia Island’s main draw.

Know before you go:
Plan ahead: the "Isle Of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival" kicks off Friday, May 5 and runs through Sunday May 7.  For details and a special event rundown, click here.

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