By: Jessica Langston, Flora-Bama
The Flora-Bama Lounge opened in 1964 and has been rocking and rolling ever since. Joe Gilchrist became an owner in 1978, Pat McClellan joined him in 1984, then John McInnis and Cameron Price came on board in 2011. Along the way, Flora-Bama has been recognized by Playboy Magazine, The New Yorker, Maxim, Jimmy Buffet, John Grisham, Kenny Chesney, USA Today, Bon Appetite, CNN Travel, The Huffington Post, Fox News, Travel Channel, Rolling Stone, and Southern Living.
Part of the Flora-Bama’s epic history includes Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party, Polar Bear Dip, Bulls on the Beach, and Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival, just to name a few.
Let’s start in January and work our way through the year. Drop-in for the Flora-Bama’s famous Polar Bear Dip on New Year’s Day. Guests of all ages don crazy costumes and dip into the Gulf of Mexico at high noon each year. All participants who fully submerge are treated to draft beer and a hot lunch of turnip greens and black-eyed peas.
The Super Chili Bowl Cook-Off takes place the first Saturday in February and pits cook against cook over steeping pots of chili. This cooking competition offers four-person teams a chance to compete for bragging rights, and notorious perpetual trophies. Team members receive free draft beer and cocktails, event T-shirts, and aprons included with their entry fees. Attendees purchase a $20 all-inclusive ticket at the door and get unlimited chili samples, a free draft beer or water, along with plenty of peace of mind as all proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.
Flora-Bama’s Beach Run/Walk for America’s Warriors gives participants a chance to run a half marathon or 5k completely in the sand along the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. Awards are given three-deep in each age division and proceeds benefit the Special Operation Warrior Foundation.
Late April brings the ultimate trifecta — Mullet Man Triathlon, Mullet Swing Golf Classic, and Interstate Mullet Toss, and Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party.
Bikini contests are another fun part of our beachfront pastimes, taking place during Mullet Toss, Memorial Day weekend, fourth of July, and Labor Day weekend. Participants enter for free and compete for cash and Flora-Bama gift certificates.
The first weekend in June marks the famous Fishing Rodeo, featuring adult and children’s divisions, plus competitive divisions such as the Off-Shore Challenge, King Mackerel Championship, and Red Snapper Jackpot when the season permits.
Sand stock is held the second Saturday in August and encompasses multiple bands performing songs from the original Woodstock in August of 1969.
Bulls on the Beach, a real rodeo with cowboys and live bulls, rolls around every second Friday and Saturday in September. Adults pay $25 for a one-night ticket or $40 for both nights. Children ages 7-17 pay $15 for one night or $20 for both. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the rodeo is from 8-9:30 p.m.
Shindig on the Sand happens the last Saturday in September and is a celebration for all the many musicians that make the Flora-Bama an amazing live music venue 365 days a year on multiple stages.
Oktoberfest comes to the Flora-Bama every first Saturday in October; this honky-tonk style party celebrates German traditions and beer — lots and lots of beer.
Halloween brings a howling good time and the annual Halloween Costume Contest. Join us for spooky decorations, drink specials, and dark deeds.
Mid-November means it’s time for the 11-day Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival where multi-genre songwriting legends perform over multiple venues. They play original music and wow audiences with intimate stories of music’s biggest celebrities.
Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are celebrated with our annual potlucks. Guests can join the Flora-Bamily as we provide the meat, and attendees bring a side dish or dessert so that everyone eats for free and enjoys time together during the holidays. No reservations are required.
Santa Drop comes around every second Saturday in December — Santa visits children Flora-Bama style…that is, he drops in by parachute. Kids enjoy free games, arts and crafts, snacks, and pictures with Santa.
Make It to the Line 4 mile run/walk races into the Flora-Bama on the fourth Saturday of December with a start time of 9 a.m. followed by an after-party with food and drinks in the Tent.
Finally, end the year with a bang during our New Year’s Eve Bash. Celebrate with fireworks, a free champagne split, a dinner buffet, and breakfast biscuits.
For more information, tickets, and event registrations, visit florabama.com.