Fest celebrates Cortez roots


By Lisa Neff, Islander Reporter

Cortezians are fond of talking about “the early days” — days of settlement, of fishing, of life on the waterfront.
Now, as the villagers prepare for the 2011 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, they are talking about “the early days” of one of the area’s top outdoor extravaganzas.
The festival is going back to its roots — and taking place on the east end of the village, where the event began, say organizers.

The two-day event will take place Feb. 19-20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, along 119th Street south of Cortez Road to the waterfront. Admission will cost $2 for those over 12.

The festival menu features what organizers say is the freshest seafood to be savored in the area.

Tickets can be purchased and then redeemed for smoked mullet, fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, conch fritters, coconut shrimp, Italian ice, strawberry shortcake, funnel cakes, jambalaya, turkey legs, corn dogs, sloppy joes, ice cream, chowder, boiled peanuts and grouper.

Festivalgoers also will have easy access to several Cortez businesses that specialize in selling and serving seafood.

The entertainment lineup includes rock, pop, bluegrass, country and blues performers on two stages — one near the waterfront and the other on the grounds of the Florida Maritime Museum.

The Feb. 19 schedule includes soul R coaster, Gumbo Boogie Band, Eric von Hahmann, Razing Cane, Billy Rice Band, Andrew Eddy, Brian Smalley, Main Hatch Motley and St. Pete Sea Shanty Singers.

The Feb. 20 schedule includes the Manatee River Bluegrass Band, Soupy Davis and his band, Dr. Dave Band, Loretta James Band, Mike Jurgensen, Terry Blauvelt, the sea shanty singers, Eddy and von Hahmann.

Organizers also anticipate more than 50 arts and crafts vendors, as well as participants offering boat rides and sponsoring marine life and fishing exhibitions.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, which maintains the FISH Preserve just east of the festival location.

“It is important that local residents know that the Cortez Fishing Festival proceeds are a major source of donations for the FISH Preserve,” said John M. Stevely, a FISH advocate and agent with the Florida Sea Grant Extension Service.

Consisting of 95 acres of mangrove wetlands, the preserve is one of the few undeveloped shorelines of Sarasota Bay.
Famed environmentalist Jean-Michael Cousteau of the Oceans Future Society once said, “Your FISH Preserve is very impressive. 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 resources base on which they depend. Your project is an important reminder of the vital connections between nature and humanity.”

Looking ahead, FISH is raising money to expand the preserve, restore wetlands and restore the old schoolhouse that houses the maritime museum, said festival organizing committee chair Linda Molto.

“The accomplishments of the Cortez community in preserving these wetlands is indeed astonishing and a testimony to private citizen involvement,” said Molto, a Cortez artist.
Stevely added, “Much has been accomplished, but there is still a lot to do.”

Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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