The communities along Scenic Highway 30A love their events, with locals and seasonal visitors alike often setting their schedules around favorite festivities. As annual mainstays emerge on the calendar, a boost in community morale is palpable. Although pandemic protocols have altered life for everyone, event organizers have worked hard to make sure our calendars are busy while still being safe.
Certain events shape my year, and although some will look slightly different from years past, these will always be a few of my favorites:
16th Annual Destin Charity Wine Auction
The 16th Annual Destin Charity Wine Auction will take place from April 23–25. According to event organizers, “2021’s auction will see the return of patron dinners, with nine intimate wine dinners slated across the Emerald Coast in private homes and popular restaurants. The large auction tent of years past that brought over 600 wine enthusiasts together for Saturday’s live auction will remain virtual for another year. This will allow guests the option of attending a DCWAF watch party or enjoying the broadcast from the comfort of home.” Find more information at dcwaf.org.
The Longleaf Writers Conference
The Longleaf Writers Conference (formerly Seaside Writers Conference) takes place in Seaside from May 10–17. The event includes seven jam-packed, delightful days of writing sessions, workshops on a variety of genres and writing skills, seminars led by industry professionals, literary agent consultations, academic outreach opportunities and social gatherings. Jennifer Haigh is the featured author for 2021. Haigh’s novel Heat and Light was voted as a prestigious Best Book of 2016 by National Public Radio, The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. COVID-19 contingency plans include reduced class sizes, limited housing options and the potential to hold events via videoconference. The full itinerary and roster of notable speakers may be found at
Alys Beach will host world-renowned Digital Graffiti from May 12-15. Known as “Photon Bombing where immersive technology meets art and architecture,” this one-of-a-kind experience uses the iconic white walls of Alys Beach as a digital canvas for artists, filmmakers and musicians from around the world. If you’re having trouble imagining the scene, curator Brett Phares showcases the inner workings of the event and how artists turn white stucco into vibrant artwork in YouTube video “Digital Graffiti 2019.” With respect to COVID-19, Alys Beach is planning what their website deems as “an immersive, drive-through experience.” Event details are available at
Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam
From June 4-6, Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam shakes up Pier Park in Panama City Beach, just 9 miles east of Rosemary Beach. The seventh annual event brings to the beach some of today’s most exciting acts in country and Southern rock. This year’s headliners are Lynyrd Skynyrd, Luke Bryan and Brad Paisley. The festival is partnering with 3P America, a leading sanitization company that teaches businesses how to enact long-term safety for employees and guests. The Jam will employ the 3P Certification Plan
to ensure safety and meet COVID-19 guidelines. Learn more at GulfCoastJam.com.
Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic
Anglers flock to Sandestin for the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, from June 23–27. This world-class sportfishing tournament offers participants and guests the excitement of red-hot billfish action and some of the largest prize purses in the world. Fans are encouraged to attend the nightly weigh-ins at the Sandestin Marina’s spacious outdoor facilities. Masks and social distancing are encouraged. Find more info at FishECBC.com.