Nearly 50 years ago, a small group of Gulf Shores "locals" got together to plan a festival around the bountiful shrimp caught in the area that they hoped might one day put the little fishing village on the map with visitors.

Only a few hundred people showed up for the first festival where local organizations and churches cooked shrimp gumbo and served food items they prepared themselves.

Today, the Annual National Shrimp Festival attracts more than 300,000 visitors to the Gulf Shores Public Beach for great food, 300+ arts vendors, musical entertainment on multiple stages, a host of fun kids' activities, a boardwalk of seafood vendors and so much more.

Watch the video above to learn more about the festival's fascinating history and book your vacation rental early to ensure you are able to stay as close to the festival site at the Gulf Shores Public Beach as possible. There are numerous benefits to staying in a spacious vacation rental vs. a tiny hotel room.