What would you do with a million dollars?

What goal in life would you like to accomplish, and why?

If you had a limitless supply of money, how would you improve the school system in Nassau County?

What is your definition of success?

If you could be on the cover of any magazine, which one would you choose, and why?

Name the 8 flags that have flown over Amelia Island.

Thank goodness my job doesn’t require me to answer these kinds of questions, on stage in front of hundreds of people - in a fashionable dress, no less!  But these next 3 ladies have been there and done that, and, exhibiting the grace that won them the crown in the first place, were happy to oblige my request for them to share with us their memories of Shrimp Festival over the years, and where to go on Amelia Island.  A big thank you to Ms. Candy Lancaster, Miss Shrimp Festival 1974; Ms. Brooke Grubbs-Raulerson, Miss Shrimp Festival 1999; and Ms. Catherine Hardy Drew, Miss Shrimp Festival 2001, for returning for more questions on Amelia Island!

1) First of all – which Shrimp Festival pageant did you win? What do you remember most about the pageant? How did you first become interested in participating in the pageant? Do you remember which question was the hardest to answer? What was your favorite part of the pageant?

In 1974 when I was the Shrimp Boat Queen, there were actually shrimp boat races. Each girl wore a sash that represented a boat in the race, and I rep’d the Terry Lee. Therefore as you can imagine the festival was a bit different than today. Of course it was about the Pirates and the seafood, and the vendors of arts and crafts. The Pirates were very active in the event (as I’m sure they are today) and the queen rode on the Pirate float, as well as going to different festivals around Fla. At that time I wore black shorts, gold shirt and a black vest – a “pirate sash” around my head as well as waving a sword, so it is quite different from today’s queens. My father, Topsy Smith, who owned the Downtown Gulf, was a pirate and encouraged me to run for queen that year. Unfortunately I do not remember the questions, but my fondest memory was a trip to Cumberland. Then Cumberland was not a State Park, and one of the shrimp boat owners (cannot remember who) took the candidates over for the day. We picnicked, explored and played for the day having fun and building rapport with each other.

I won Miss Shrimp Festival 1999 and I remember the process being more than the public realized. Between the interviews, the dance, the practices… it wasn’t just show up and smile.
My interest in the pageant stemmed from growing up and always watching the pageant. Every festival that passed peeked my interest with wanting to participate.
I knew a lot of the previous Queens and really wanted to represent the festival with pride. All the questions they asked were hard but the one thing I was asked was “If I could go back in history and change one thing, what would it be, and why?” My answer was “To go back in history and prevent Adolf Hitler from gaining so much power and prevent him from being the dictator he became to stop him from destroying so many innocent lives.”

My favorite part of the pageant was receiving the long stemmed rose that was donated by my mother’s flower shop which is now my duty to donate the roses since I have bought the shop, Artistic Florist, from her.

I currently own and operate a small business in the community which has grown into a staple in the community of providing the island’s residences with beautiful flowers from all around the world. Every year for the shrimp festival we donate the flowers the Queen carries and that is handed out to the participants.

It was an honor to be Ms. Shrimp Festival 2001! One of my fondest memories was being elected “Miss. Congeniality” by my fellow contestants – it meant a lot to know my peers thought I was worthy of this!

I don’t remember what specifically prompted me to enroll in the pageant, but the Shrimp Festival has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My family has been involved with the shrimping industry in Fernandina Beach since the 1800s. One of my first childhood memories was being along side my Dad at the city docs. Each Shrimp Festival we would wake up early on Sunday morning and go to every one of the local shrimp boats to make certain they had everything they needed for the blessing of the fleet later that day.


2) If your best friend told you she was attending the Festival for the first time ever, what would you tell her to be sure not to miss?

Your question on recommendation to my friend would have been the landing of the pirates however I’m not sure if this is still done. You see I moved away 31 years ago and was not able to attend the festival every year. In fact I just moved back in December and am looking forward to attending this year.

I would tell them to visit the Vietnam Veterans Booth and eat their shrimp pies.

I would highly recommend sampling all of the food booths who proudly serve “locally caught shrimp!” Then spend the day visiting the artists tents up and down Centre Street. Milt Shirley’s marsh scenes are my personal favorites!  When you are ready to leave for the day, venture out past the historic district to Slider’s Seaside Grill at the end of Sadler  where you will discover George Stewart’s crab cakes, margaritas, and beachside ambiance – it is the best in the Southeast!

3) How long did you live in the area? Which high school did you attend? Where did you hang out the most growing up? What are you up to these days?

I was born and raised in Fernandina. I attended St. Michael’s K through 6th grade at which point they closed the school. I then went to the Jr. High which went to 9th grade back then, and graduated from FBHS in 1977. I was very involved in high school so any event going on there was where I was. Then during the summer when school was out we would “circle” town and the beach until enough of us gathered and we hung out at main beach, which was different than today’s main beach. Back then, main beach use to have the Blue Seas restaurant, a skating rink and a game room; which is where we passed some time in Jr. High. But the two spots we frequented the most as far as going to dinner was the Marina Restaurant (the Toundas’s are family friends) and the Surf which back then was owned by the Walkers.

In 2005 I went back to school to become a nurse and then got my BSN and graduated in 2012 with that. I was working at Shands @ UF in Gainesville but left 12/5/12 to move back to Fernandina; and have not started work again due to knee surgery and trying to renovate my husband’s family home which is where we now reside.

I have lived in the area since 1991 and I went to Fernandina Beach High school. I visited and hung out at Main Beach.  I’ve been running a locally owned and operated flower shop, Artistic Florist. We just moved 18 years into a new location at 1430 Park Avenue and loving the new spot! One of our highly sought after services and expertise is from intimate to grand weddings of the island!

I was born and raised in Fernandina Beach. I attended Fernandina Beach High School and am so fortunate to reside here with my husband (John Drew) and our 3-year old son. I am currently working at Northeast Florida State Hospital as a pre-doctoral psychology intern and will graduate this August with my PhD in clinical psychology. My research has focused on severe juvenile offenders and I plan to work as a forensic psychologist in Northeast Florida.


4) Tell me about maybe a couple of little known spots on the Island that you’d recommend to newcomers (or tenured visitors!) Restaurants, secret scenic spots, etc.?

The Fort always held hidden treasures as far as scenic spots.

Pippy Long Stocking house. As for restaurants, Murray’s Grille is my favorite spot to visit. It’s not a little known but it has great food.

A little known secret to the shrimp festival is that the fun doesn’t have to stop Sunday afternoon. The “Shrimpfest Golf Classic” is a two-day event.  Devoted golfers tell me it’s by far one of the best tournaments in Florida and all of the proceeds go to a local school (www.ameliaislandmontessori.com)


5) What’s your favorite way to prepare shrimp? Do you have any favorite recipes you’re willing to share?

When we would visit Fernandina we always got fried shrimp which was a treat since we try not to eat fried food (bad for the arteries – yes I’m a cardiac nurse :>) ) so now I usually sauté them with some garlic and butter and enjoy them with pasta or a salad.

Being that I’m originally from New Orleans, Shrimp Etouffee is my favorite.

Grilled! Fresh local shrimp have such a wonderful taste and texture that “the simpler- the better”.

- Soak wooden skewers in water for a few minutes.

- Place 6 shrimp on each stick so that they are all “spooning” the same direction.

- Sprinkle the slightest bit of Cavender’s Seasoning on them.

- Place them on the grill on high heat for about 45 seconds, then turn them over and leave them there until the shrimp have turned completely opaque. (Another 45 seconds to a minute).  BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO OVER COOK THEM – THEY WILL DRY OUT QUICKLY!

- Immediately serve them with melted butter.


6) What advice would you give this year’s Miss Shrimp Festival contestants?

Be true to yourself. Have fun and enjoy it – whether you win or lose does not judge who you are inside, be proud of yourself for trying and know how wonderful you are.

Have fun! It shows!

Be yourself and be bold! This pageant provides you an opportunity to show your peers and younger girls following behind you that the most respected women are those who have inner beauty. Also, to Ms. Shrimp Festival 2013, and all the contestants, remember to give back to the community that has helped shape who you are!


There you have it – Amelia Island and her treasures, straight from the ones who’ve worn the crowns. We’re so excited to welcome the Shrimp Festival again for its 50th year, with the Pirate Parade this week, and the Festival itself next weekend! As official sponsors of the Parade and Bob (our GM) as Master of Ceremonies, a shuttle for our guests to ride through the parade, and kickoff party here at the hotel, we are your Shrimp Fest experts – book your reservations today at 866-245-6099 ext. 0 and we’ll see you at check-in!