Bay Day has become much more than an afternoon of low country boil.

Bay Day has become much more than an afternoon of low country boil.

With a live auction taking place tonight as a kind of support for the St. Joseph Bay Buffer and Aquatic Preserves, fall Bay Day, now in its 14th year, has expanded.

Here is an overview of the entertainment and recreational options headquartered at the Buffer Preserve Center on State 30A north of Port St. Joe.


1. Live auction tonight. A live auction, a staple of the Bay Day week the past two years, will begin 6 p.m. ET tonight at the Preserve Center.

More than 45 items, many high-end items spanning from overnight vacation stays, to fishing charters to restaurant deals, will be auctioned off. Wine and cheese will be served throughout the auction.

“This is a way to generate more funds for the Friends of the Buffer Preserves to be able to support programs at the buffer and purchase land to keep the buffer in public hands,” said Sandra Chafin, Buffer Preserve Center secretary.

“With the live auction and Bay Day Saturday we have the opportunity to educate more people about what we do.”



2. Birding tour. Brian Houser from the Bay County Audubon Society will lead a birding tour which begins 8 a.m. ET on Saturday. The tour will be on wheels, will start at the Preserve Center, and, during its three hours, will make various stops within the Buffer Preserve, the Deal Tract along St. Joseph Peninsula and other birding hot spots along the coast.



3. Tram Tours. There will be Tram Tours into the heart of the Buffer Preserve throughout Bay Day, beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET. Tours will follow at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. and will traverse the trails in the 5,000-plus acre buffer. Tour participants will see areas of controlled burns and learn about the use of fire in, well, preserving the Preserve, and will see long-leaf pine stands and other flora that make the Buffer unique.


4. Food. As with every Bay Day, the featured item on the menu will be a low country boil, with shrimp, corn, potatoes, sausage and all the other ingredients that make the boil a highlight of every Bay Day.

And, yes, for those who remember one Bay Day, years ago, when the food ran out, that is not going to happen, again, Chafin said.

“We have prepared for plenty,” she said with a chuckle.

The low boil will be available for a $10 donation from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. ET on the deck of the Preserve Center.

Folks can dine on the deck or inside the Center.

This year, the Woodmen of the World will have its trailer at the Preserve Center and will be serving hot dogs, popcorn and sno-cones for the kids, all for a $2 donation to the Preserves.

Buffalo Rock, also focusing on the younger ones, has provided something called “fruit chutes” that are apparently big with the kids.



5. Music and education. The Bluegrass Crossroads Band, led by hometown boy Eddie McFarland, will be playing on the deck from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. ET. The band has become a staple of Bay Day.

In addition, the Observation Tower at the Preserve Center will be open for a bit taller view of the preserves and educational displays from a host of organizations will be on the deck throughout the day.

“We are expecting a wonderful crowd and wonderful weather,” Chafin said.