DESTIN — Cooler weather and a bit of gusty wind didn’t stop thousands of people from heading down to HarborWalk Village on Thursday evening for the 8th annual Finest on the Emerald Coast celebration.
Dozens of businesses throughout Northwest Florida — from restaurants to real estate to car repair and finance — showed off their goods and services and were recognized for their contributions to the local economy. Patrons from all over the area came out to support them.
“We come here every year, and I think this is the best year yet,” Sandi Williams said as she picked up a fudge sample from the De’France Indoor Flea Market booth. “There are more vendors that I’m interested in seeing and everybody is really friendly.”
Barbara Britt, an ambassador for the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the Finest event is “what Southern hospitality is all about.”
“I just love the atmosphere here,” Britt said. “And I think it’s important that we highlight local businesses. It’s hard for small businesses sometimes, and I think we need to make people more aware.”
A long lined formed at the Bamboo Sushi and Hibachi booth as master sushi rollers Mike and Danny Ledford worked furiously to make enough crunchy tuna rolls for the hungry crowd. Behind them, Continuum, a popular local band, performed on HarborWalk’s main stage.
Haley Thompson from Palm Beach Tan had a booth set up near the stage, and was offering chips and salsa as well as tanning lotions to passers-by.
“I’m stoked. There’s a lot of people here,” Thompson said. “We don’t usually do a whole lot of marketing, so we look for events where there’s going to be a lot of people, and we found it.”