Nov. 20, 2023
Special to 30A Food & Wine
MIRAMAR BEACH – The Market Shops 8th annual Bloody Mary Festival, held Oct. 14, raised $41,000 for Habitat for Humanity – Walton County. The shopping center was once again transformed into a bustling festival ground to host and welcome over 1,000 attendees. Festive tomato-themed balloon décor, courtesy of Mingle and the Good Grit Agency, greeted guests as they entered the lively courtyard and grand lawn, each full of restaurants, vendors, and merchants from The Market Shops. Event goers made their way around the tents sampling each Bloody Mary, complete with over-the-top accoutrements, and served in specialty cups sponsored by Compass Builders of Florida.
The sold-out event showcased 15 of the finest restaurants and bars on the Emerald Coast, each serving unlimited tastes of their most creative and innovative Bloody Marys, made with Distillery 98’s local Half Shell Vodka. Participating restaurants included Auston’s on 98, The Beach House, Big Bad Breakfast, Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer, Camille’s at Crystal Beach, Chanticleer Eatery, Chef’s Bistro 30A, Chiringo, The Henderson, Louis Louis/ The Red Bar, Outcast Bar and Grill, Ovide, Ruby Slipper Café, The Shrimp Basket, and Soleil.
Upon check-in, guests received a token to vote for the coveted People’s Choice Awards for the “Best Bloody Mary.” A panel of select food critics and regional media also judged each Bloody Mary and selected the following winner as the most delicious and most creative, along with their pick for the “Best Accoutrement” award. All awards were custom made by local artist, Maxine Orange.
People’s Choice Award
1 – The Shrimp Basket
2 – Ruby Slipper Cafe
3 – Chiringo
Judge’s Choice Award
1 tie – The Red Bar/Louis Louis
1 tie – The Beach House
In addition to the Bloody Marys, guests sipped on local craft brews served by Idyll Hounds Brewing Company, spiked seltzer from Palm Folly, and champagne from Gulf Water Wines at the Bubbly Bar.
Guests also had the opportunity to enjoy numerous food options throughout the festival from the various restaurants located directly within The Market Shops, including Ben & Jerrys, Chicago Hot Dogs & More, Hunter’s Chicken and Burgers, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Parlor Doughnuts, and Pizza by the Sea. There were also shopping opportunities on the lawn, courtesy of Escapology and Fit2Run, the Runner’s Superstore.
Vacayzen and Shofar Productions transformed the Grand Lawn into the ultimate tailgating experience with lounge seating and a jumbo screen live-streaming college football, sponsored by Abora Insurance Group. Throughout the event, guests sampled cigars from Shore Thing Cigars, took photos in the interactive photobooth sponsored by Legendary Marine, and danced to ’80s rock band, Catalyst, on the main stage, sponsored by The Market Shops.
Since its inception, The Market Shops Bloody Mary Festival has raised over $200,000 for local charities. For the past six years, Habitat for Humanity – Walton County has been the beneficiary of the annual event. The money raised through ticket sales, donations, and sponsorship from this year’s festival will go directly toward Habitat for Humanity – Walton County’s efforts to build and provide homes for working families in the area.
“This was the best Bloody Mary Festival yet,” said Bob Duncan, managing partner of The Market Shops. “We were proud to host and see the community, participating restaurants, sponsors, and volunteers come together for such a fun event to raise funds to advance Habitat’s mission.”