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Abundant Sunshine and Songwriters Along Historic 30A

Santa Rosa Beach is where dream beach vacations occur. It’s tucked away on Northwest Florida's Emerald Coast, and was included on a list of the “Top Five Favorite Towns in America” by Travel + Leisure. Travelers will be tempted to stay permanently after experiencing the town’s upscale dining, pristine beaches, and community festivals.


The 30A Songwriters Festival is one of the top music events in the region. It features over 175 songwriters from a variety of genres and takes place at multiple venues and cities along the world famous Highway 30A: Santa Rosa Beach (location of most of the venues), Miramar Beach, Panama City Beach, and Seaside. Planners expect thousands of people in attendance during this four-day music spectacular. Attendees can expect a top tier music experience at each location because the showrunners bring state-of-the-art sound and lighting to every venue. The 30A Songwriters Festival has a venue for every music lover, whether it's drinking and dancing at a club or catching a world famous act in an amphitheater. got the opportunity to speak to Festival Producer, Russell Carter, to talk about this one-of-a-kind music celebration.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

RC: The first year of the 30A Songwriters Festival was 2010, and 2017 marks our 8th annual event.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?  

RC: We have a maximum capacity of 5,000 people at our largest venue. We expect to reach that number without issue.


RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event? Children? Families? Couples?

RC: We see mostly adult singles and couples.


RAL: What makes this event unique?  

RC: We build out 30 unique listening rooms up and down Highway 30A, which runs along the Gulf coast in Northwest Florida. We truck in state of the art sound and lights to convert bars, restaurants, and town halls into music venues for the four-day festival weekend. All performers write their own music.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

RC: Headline acts include John Prine, Cheap Trick, Shawn Colvin, Matthew Sweet, Parker Millsap, and Dr. John. They will perform on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at a 5,000-seat amphitheater at Grand Boulevard. Lunch food and beverages will be available on the grounds.


Music takes place from 5:00 pm until 11:00 pm in each of the 30 different venues. Hosting locations will feature at least three sets from various artists, with over 250 shows during the four-day weekend.


There are two VIP dinners with celebrity chefs and special music guests. The majority of the venues, which range in size from 100 to 500 capacity, serve dinner.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

RC: Our website lists our lodging partners. Most attendees rent privately owned beach resort homes and condominiums. 30A is home to plenty of popular rental communities including Seaside, Rosemary Beach, WaterColor, WaterSound, Alys Beach, and Grayton Beach.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?

RC: Many of our lodging partners offer discounted festival weekend passes with rental property.  


RAL: Is there maybe one place in particular that guests have been flocking to since the event started?

RC: No, people love to cover a lot of ground and jump around to different venues and performances throughout the night. There are shuttle buses for folks who prefer not to drive


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

RC: The event is a benefit for the local arts nonprofit called the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, and 100% of net proceeds go to The Alliance to helps fund activities, free community festivals, and grants to local arts groups.  


RAL: Does the event drive business to your local economy?  

RC: The weekend of the festival used to be slow for businesses following the busy holiday weeks in December. It's now a huge weekend for all of South Walton including official festival venues, partners of the event, and businesses around town.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

RC: There are over 250 shows in intimate listening rooms that have great sound systems and world-class touring musicians.

For more information about the 30A Songwriters Festival, please visit their website.