Festival celebrates history of Cortez fishing village


By LEE WILLIAMS, Correspondent

Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 12:34 p.m.

Artist Jerry Secton of Baltimore came down a few days early for the 30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.
Buy PhotoPhoto by Carla Varisco-Williams

CORTEZ – The fishing village of Cortez is a portal to another time, a living history museum of sorts.

The village’s 1.5 square miles are home to more than 100 self-reliant fishermen who still pull their mullet, grouper and stone crab from the sea as they have done for more than 130 years, despite dwindling fisheries and increasingly stringent government regulations.

The village’s rich history and its relationship with the sea will be on display this weekend for the 30th annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival 2012. The theme of this year’s festival: “There’s something fishy in Cortez.”

More than 50 vendors will sell everything from seafood to arts and crafts. The event will also feature live music, touch tanks, guided shoreline tours, face painting and a bucking mechanical shark ride.

“This is really a unique event. It’s not a chamber of commerce putting on a seafood festival in a parking lot,” said John Stevely, one of the festival organizers. “It’s a festival with a mission of celebrating this working waterfront heritage.”

Proceeds will benefit the Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage (FISH) and its 95-acre environmentally-sensitive fish preserve located along Sarasota Bay. Some of the proceeds will also help pay to restore a historic church, said FISH president Kim McVey.

“Typically, this is how we get through the year,” McVey said. “It’s a lot of fun. There’s awareness of the commercial fishing industry and the historic village. Together, there’s a lot that goes with it.”

Cortez has always been a self-sufficient community, which many say is the reason the village has survived hurricanes, wars and depressions. They do not need much in terms of outside resources.

“There’s nothing that can come at them that they can’t overcome when they come together,” said Karen Riley-Love, who manages the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, which occupies a 1912 schoolhouse.

Riley-Love, who has lived in the village with her family for eight years, is the unofficial keeper of the rich history that will be displayed this weekend. What she lacks in institutional knowledge, given her brief residency, is more than made up for by her volunteer staff.

That includes John McDonald, 79, who was born and raised in Cortez. McDonald helped secure an 80-year-old pole skiff for the museum, built by renowned Cortez boat builder N.E. Taylor. The skiff, equipped with a cotton net complete with Spanish cork floats, will be on display during the festival.

“This is the only one left that Taylor himself built,” McDonald said. “It’s pretty special.”

For Stevely, the fishing festival is more than just a good time — it is a way to help keep Old Florida alive.

“This is a very important community event. It celebrates the commercial fishing heritage of Cortez, one of the last-remaining fishing villages in Florida settled in the 1880s,” Stevely said. “It’s quite amazing. You can turn off a road in Bradenton and enter old-time Cracker Florida.”

Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cortez fishing festival, FISH celebrate 30th year


There’s something fishy in Cortez.

That’s the theme of this year’s annual Commercial Fishing Festival that will play host to an estimated 25,000 people who are ready to descend on the historic village of Cortez.
The festival will offer visitors two unique days of fun and family entertainment as the 30th annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival kicks off Feb. 18-19, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Events include live music, marine life discussions and display, children’s activities and at the heart of maritime cultures will be a variety of fresh seafood, “with choices for land lovers,” festival organizers said.

More than 50 vendors will be on site with arts and crafts, as well as artwork featuring a nautical theme.

Festival activities will also take place at the east end of Cortez, at the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W. where festivalgoers can enjoy live music and additional parking.
Entry to the festival is $3 and children under the age of 12 are free. All proceeds from the festival are collected by the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage. FISH organizes the annual festival and uses the proceeds for the continuing expansion and restoration of the FISH Preserve.

The 95-acre parcel along Sarasota Bay is considered environmentally sensitive. The FISH effort to preserve the land, and buffer the village from development has been endorsed by famed ocean explorer, Jean-Michel Cousteau.

“Your FISH Preserve is very impressive,” wrote Cousteau, founder of Oceans Future Society. “Its economic value cannot be judged in terms of dollars alone. I have seen from many places around the world, communities like the fishing village of Cortez, suffering from the demise of the natural resource base on which they depend. Your project is an important reminder of the vital connections between nature and humanity.”

For a schedule of festival activities, and more information, visit http://www.cortez-fish.org or call 941-708-6120.

Festival entertainment Saturday, Feb. 18:
Stage 1, Waterfront
10:30 a.m.: Soul R Coaster
Noon: Awards and Introductions
12:30 p.m.: Eric von Hahmann
2 p.m.: Shaman
4 p.m.: Razing Cane
Stage 2, Bratton Store
10:30 a.m.: Eric von Hahmann
11:45 a.m.: Passerine
1 p.m.: Brian Smalley
2:15 pm: St Pete & Main Hatch Motley Shanty Singers
2:45 p.m.: Eric von Hahmann
4 p.m.: Jimmy Johnson

Festival entertainment Sunday, Feb. 19
Stage 1, Waterfront
10:30 a.m.: Soupy Davis and his Band
12:00 p.m.: Eric von Hahmann
1:30 p.m.: Dr. Dave Band
3:30 p.m.: Gumbo Boogie Band
Stage 2, Bratton Store
10:30 a.m.: Main Hatch Motley Sea Shanty Singers
11:15 a.m.: Jimmy Johnson
12:30 p.m.: Terry Blauvelt
1:45 p.m.: Sister Act (Lane & Val)
3 p.m.: Eric von Hahmann
4 p.m.: Eric & Jimmy

Published in: on February 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Cortezian

Check out the link on our web page for the February edition of The Cortezian.


Published in: on February 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Volunteers Needed for the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival

Volunteer for the 30th Annual

Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival

Feb 18 & 19, 2012!

THANK YOU for volunteering to make our 30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival a success. The festival counts on the support of hundreds of volunteers just like you!

Coordinator for volunteers: Debra Ibasfalean villagelady27@verizon.net

Volunteer Hours Needed

Saturday, Feb 18th, from 9-1 or 1-6

Sunday, Feb 19th, from 9-1 or 1-6

What to do if I’m volunteering

Sign up for shifts by emailing villagelady27@verizon.net and give your name, phone number and time and day of shift you would like

Check in for your shift at the main ticket booth. Tell the volunteer at any ticket booth that you are here to sign in and they will direct you to the main ticket booth.

· Sign in and receive your volunteer wristband

· Receive any updates or special instructions

· Receive information on where you will volunteer

· Have fun, and know your help is greatly valued!


§ We encourage volunteers to park at the FISH Preserve. Head west on Cortez Road to 116th and look for the festival parking signs. Parking is free.

Published in: on February 2, 2012 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Cortez Bridge still on FDOT’s list


By Tom Vaught | sun staff writer

sun photo/tom vaught
The Florida Department of Transportation wants
to start work this year on choosing a replacement
for the Cortez Bridge.

With the fate of the Anna Maria Island Bridge sealed, the Florida Department of Transportation is now eyeing the Cortez Bridge.

Manatee-Sarasota Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Executive Director Michael Howe reminded everybody an initial study of the 54-year-old drawbridge is in the works.

“A project development and environmental study (PDE) is in the works,” he said. “We’ll first look at a rehabilitation to make it last 10 or more years and then later a study on its replacement.”

As first reported by the Anna Maria Island Sun last April, funding for a replacement PDE is in the five year MPO plan for this year.

The two drawbridges were built in 1957 and the Anna Maria Bridge, on State Road 64, was rehabbed in 2008. After that, FDOT held public hearings on its PDE on that drawbridge. The study recommended replacing it with a fixed-span bridge.

Both bridges have been the focus of strong public sentiment for more than 20 years. The local FDOT chief first came to the Island in 1993 and said the replacement of the Anna Maria Bridge with a fixed-span was imminent. The public set up an independent group, call Save Anna Maria (SAM), which fought the project in court, winning its case a year later. One reason for their victory was the state ruled FDOT had not informed the public living near the bridge of the plans.

In 2009, FDOT held hearings at St. Bernard Church on the future of the Anna Maria Bridge and concluded the 65-foot-high, fixed span would be best.

While the fate of the Anna Maria Bridge is sealed, Howe said no money was in the budget to fund the replacement. In the past, FDOT said permitting and purchasing right of way would add 10 years to the project and that is also not in the budget at this point.

Howe did not have dates or times for the Cortez Bridge hearings. He said that information would come later, possibly in the spring of this year.

Last year’s news of the Cortez Bridge study drew a number of tall bridge opponents to a Manatee County Commission hearing. The Cortez Bridge is much shorter than the Anna Maria Bridge and a number of people urged FDOT to keep its replacement dimensions the same or construct a 45-foot-high drawbridge that would open to boat traffic fewer times per day, since more boats would be able to pass under it when it was not open.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Historic Preservation

Please read the email below from Cathy Slusser with Chip Shore’s office.

Send an email to Suzie Dobbs, Community Development Manager, suzie.dobbs and ask her to include historic preservation in their plan Community Block Development Grant funds. This needs to be done today as they are having a meeting tonight.

Mark Green

From: Cathy Slusser
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:30 AM
Subject: Please forward to your e-mail lists asap

I apologize for the lateness of this request, but I did not understand the process in place for suggesting to the Manatee County Community Development Division what priorities they should put in their upcoming five year plan regarding Community Block Development Grant funds. I just came from a meeting where I learned that to get historic preservation into that plan, we need an outpouring of community support. It is not currently in their list of proposed priorities.

In the past, these funds, which come from the Federal Government, have been used for historic preservation projects that meet certain criteria such as reducing slum and blight. The Burton Store in Cortez is an example of one such project that benefitted from this type of funds.

If you can, please go to an Open House today from 9-11 at the Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Boulevard, Bradenton, or tonight from 5-7 at the South County Library, 6081 26th St. W., Bradenton. There will be forms that you can fill out and add under “other”, “Historic Preservation”.

Or if you cannot attend, you can e-mail Suzie Dobbs, Community Development Manager, suzie.dobbs and ask her to include historic preservation in their plan.

It is imperative that you do this today as today is the last day they are seeking input. Again, I apologize for the lateness of this request. I thought the meeting was to just for discussion and did not realize that they were actually looking at the number of comments that they received for a priority.

Any questions, please feel free to call me, (941) 741-4070.

Thank you, Cathy

Cathy Slusser, Deputy Director

Historical Resources & Public Relations

For R.B. "Chips" Shore

Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller



Manatee County Historical Records Library

1405 4th Avenue West

Bradenton, Florida 34205

(941) 741-4070

"Pride in Service with a Vision to the Future"

Published in: on January 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mullet catch success, cast offs


By Thomas Aposporos II, Islander Reporter

Over the past four to six weeks, local fishers saw a historic season for mullet — a fish sought after for its meat and, in the case of female mullet, its pouch of eggs.

According to Karen Bell, of A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez, the amount of mullet brought in was easily three times that of last year, putting this season roughly on par with 2007, the only other season in the past 15 years to reach this volume.

“Conditions this year were perfect for fishing. It was cold, but not too cold. We hope it will happen again some day,” said Bell.
Bell’s father, Walter Bell, also of A.P. Bell Fish Co., said he’d never seen so many mullet in his life.

There is little the fishing industry can do to prepare for a season of this magnitude, as there is no way to know the influx of mullet will be large or small. While exciting and lucrative, a season such as this also is exhausting. “I can’t deny it was a little overwhelming. The processing of the fish was literally occurring around the clock,” Walter Bell said.

With the productive season comes some unfortunate byproducts.

A number of Anna Maria and Longboat Key residents complained of dead mullet washing up on the shoreline, many of them whole, some gutted for their roe.
“It’s a sad thing to see,” said Bell. “Some fisherman, both local and from out-of-town, are better about it. Some are not.”

When the yield is unexpectedly high, the processors at the fish houses are not the only ones overwhelmed.

Many fish companies reached their capacity for male mullet while the season was still at its peak, female mullet being of more valuable because the roe commands a substantially higher price than the male roe. As a result, when a crew hauls in a large catch, they often throw the male fish back, but the mullet don’t always survive.

“It looks bad, and it’s an unfortunate waste of fish, but when this occurs we can at least know that the fish are returning to the ecosystem,” said Bell.

Published in: on January 17, 2012 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  

FISH makes plans for new year


By Thomas Aposporos II, Islander Reporter

Hopes are high for a productive and successful 2012, according to members of the Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage board at their meeting Jan. 2.

The FISH Preserve, one of the board’s top priorities, will continue to receive the work that began last year. The Preserve encompasses some 90-plus acres, including environmentally sensitive lands, east of the village of Cortez, where improvement and beautification has been a major goal.

Volunteers spent hundreds of hours in December clearing the northern portion — between 115th and 116th streets — to make way for new vegetation. Clearing will continue this year.

There also is work ongoing to create public parking. In time, the entire preserve will be open to the public.

The board is currently pursuing grants to support continued work. A $58,000 Gulf of Mexico Foundation grant and a $98,000 Southwest Florida Water Management District grant “look real positive,” said board member and preserve site manager Karen Riley-Love.

• The FISH board voted to rename the former Cortez Church of God, acquired in 2010, Fishermen’s Hall.

• Board member Bob Landry said $1,000 remains in the budget for interior and exterior renovations, which includes replacing rotted beams and termite-damaged wood.

• Board president Kim McVey reported on the current mullet season, saying, “It is one of the best years ever. It will surpass the season of ’07. There are huge amounts of red- and white-roe mullet.”

• Plans for the 30th annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, to be held the weekend of Feb. 18–19, are under way. Board member/artist Linda Molto said, “Everything is coming along real well.”

The next FISH meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6, at Fishermen’s Hall, 4515 124th St. W., Cortez.

Published in: on January 10, 2012 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Bountiful season for mullet fishermen


By Tom Vaught | sun staff writer

Fishermen haul in a catch of mullet in the
Gulf of Mexico off Anna Maria Island during Christmas week.

The mullet were jumping again last week, drawing commercial fishermen from Cortez and both commercial and recreational fishermen from around the state to catch the females bearing red roe, prized as a delicacy, especially in Asia.

So many mullet are being caught that the street in front of Bell Fish Co. was completely blocked by fish trucks one day last week, and Cortez Bait and Seafood stopped buying mullet.

"It’s one of the better years we’ve had," said Kim McVey, of Cortez Bait and Seafood, who also serves as president of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage. The season will continue well into the New Year, she said.

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 10:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Jason Edward Daymon, Jr., also known as Michael David Yarrow

Jason Edward Daymon, Jr., also known as Michael David Yarrow, age 62, of Lake Placid, Fla. died on November 30, 2011. Born January 18, 1949 in Jacksonville, Fla., Jason was the son of Mildred Carter Dittman and the late Jason E. Daymon, Sr., beloved husband of the late Wanda Perry Daymon. Jason was raised in the fishing village of Cortez by his adoptive parents John and Melba Yarrow. He served in the U.S. Navy, studied photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology and received his BS from the University of South Florida. Jason is survived by his mother Mildred, his daughter Lisa Yarrow, her husband Peter Averdick, their son Benjamin and baby due in January; his daughter Brooke Shook, her husband Brian and their children Peyton and Hailey; and his daughter Shannon Warner and her children Tyler and Summer; and eleven brothers and sisters. Friends and family are invited to attend a celebration of life at Holiday Inn, 608 S. Lakeview Road, Lake Placid, FL on Saturday December 10, 2011 at 1p.m. Memorial donations can be made to the Wanda Daymon Memorial Scholarship at South Florida Community College.

Published in: on December 14, 2011 at 10:53 am  Leave a Comment  

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