Words by Katie Brownfiel. Images courtesy of the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club.
There are a few key ways to know that September has arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia: Wawa is once again packed with college students, the daytime screams at Busch Gardens begin to quiet, and the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg is hosting their annual Shrimp Feast. Entering its 41st year and annually attracting nearly 2,000 attendees, Shrimp Feast is one of the largest ongoing festivals in Williamsburg. The Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg’s primary fundraiser has traditionally raised $40,000 each year for the organization’s headliner charities. This year, Colonial Casa, Grove Christian Outreach, Dream Catchers, and the Williamsburg Regional Library Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio will be the recipients of the fundraising efforts.
As the name implies, Shrimp Feast is all about the food. A ticket allows you to indulge in all-you-can-eat shrimp, hushpuppies, coleslaw, baked beans, and all-beef hot dogs for just $40 an adult or $20 a child. According to Mike Rock, a co-chair of the event for eleven years, Mickey and John Chohany of Second Street Bistro play a crucial role in ensuring the high quality of the food. The brothers have assisted in ordering, prepping, and cooking the food for years and have become one of the event’s longest sponsors. Rock also shared that Virginia Beer Company, another local favorite, is partnering with Shrimp Feast again to create an exclusive craft beer. Their refreshing Big Shrimpn’ brew has been tweaked and will only be sold at the event.
While the event has been held at the Jamestown 4H Center in recent memory, Rock is thrilled to announce that this year’s feast will be held at Jamestown Settlement. The grassy mall behind the museum will offer ample room for attendees to eat and enjoy the live performance of the eclectic Chong Band. While the location takes guests back in time, ticket sales are jumping into the future by being exclusively digital for the first time. This change should make check-in more efficient and ticket sales more accessible to a wider Hampton Roads audience.
Scott Zimmerman, a Kiwanian volunteer of thirty years, believes that Shrimp Feast truly brings families together. “I know of one group that holds a family reunion anchored by Shrimp Feast with families coming from as far away as Florida and Maryland,” he recalled. Mike Rock echoed this sentiment by sharing all of the activities that are available for children. Polar Snow Shaved Ice and Uncle Dave’s Kettle Corn will be available for purchase, and face painting will continue this year. GYMGUYZ will be offering fun fitness activities for children and their families for the first time this year.
On the topic of families, it takes the entire Kiwanis family and Williamsburg community to make this event possible. Rock and his longtime co-chair Geoff Suter have spent the last six months organizing the event. Caren Schumacher is overseeing the VIP and Oasis sections again this year, and her team of volunteers ensures that the VIPs' every need is met. According to Missy Zimmerman, the Kiwanis club’s webmaster, “The VIP ticket gets you credentials to enter the VIP area where your reserved table awaits you. Cheerful servers will bring your food and beverages to you. Craft beers are included, as well as soda and water. There are no lines as you relax under cover while a server gets you a full plate or seconds on anything you want more of.” Mike Rock estimates that 150-200 volunteers from the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg, Aktion Club, Circle K International, Key Club, the four headliner charities, and William & Mary athletic teams will be volunteering on the day of the event.
If you are interested in purchasing tickets for the September 10th event, they can be purchased at https://williamsburgkiwanis.org/event/2022-shrimp-feast/. The event will run from 4PM-7PM at 2110 Jamestown Road.