Cortez residents celebrate community with food and history


Around 70 people, some traveling from out of state, enjoyed a potluck lunch Saturday at the 22nd annual Cortez Village Community Picnic. CARL MARIO NUDI/Bradenton Herald

CORTEZ — There was good food, good weather and great company Saturday at this year’s Cortez Village Community Picnic. he fine fiddle playing of Soupy Davis and his band and a theatrical performance and artwork of Manatee School of the Arts students contributed to the event on the waterfront.

"I just love to see all the people get together," said Blue Fulford, who, at 82, was one of the longtime native Cortez residents the students interviewed to develop their presentations.

About 20 students spent several days in the historic fishing village that hugs Sarasota Bay interviewing residents and fishermen as part of a cross-curriculum study project the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration sponsored.

Steven Marshall, head of the social studies department at the Palmetto school, developed the course and used teachers from several disciplines to teach the students about history, art, drama and writing.

Some of the students presented monologues, taking on the personalities of several residents of Cortez, to demonstrate the culture and lives of the people of the village.

Settled in the mid-1800s, Cortez soon became a thriving commercial fishing town, due to the abundance of fish, crabs and shellfish in Sarasota Bay and nearby Gulf of Mexico.

Somewhat isolated from the rest of Manatee County, the residents became self-reliant, hardworking and a close-knit community, traits the students portrayed in their performance.

"I was just hoping no one got offended or caused any trouble," said senior Gregory Timmons, 17, one of the students who performed after lunch.

Gregory, who will be studying mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa this fall, took on the character and personality of Tink Fulford, who was known in the village for his persuasive way of getting his fellow fishermen to work.

Other students had their photographs, paintings and fish prints on display in the workspace of the A.P. Bell Fishhouse. The exhibition offered the students’ interpretation of the people and places within the village after being given a tour by several residents.

"Talking with them gave me a different perspective of the whole city," said senior Jessica Lee, 17, "and why I’m taking the picture.

"Jessica’s two photographs showed one of the many working docks in the village from the viewpoint of a fishhouse and a half-sunken boat still tied to its mooring. "I looked for the historical feel of the subject," she said.

Karen Bell, manager of the A.P. Bell Fishhouse and who helped organize the picnic, said the students really added something special to the annual event. "I thought they were great," Bell said. "They did a great job of hitting points of history in Cortez.

"Another change this year was opening up the picnic to the broader community, and everyone who showed up was treated to the finest of home-cooked food. The crowd of 70 or so people sat under the pavilion at the end of the Few-Miller Dock to feast on the potluck side dishes, along with the mullet main dish supplied by Starfish Restaurant.

"This is just a wonderful opportunity to share and reminisce who we are," said Mary Fulford Green, 87, who is known for her love of Cortez history and persistence in preserving it.

Published in: on April 21, 2013 at 9:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Cortez community picnic brings history alive


Manatee School for the Arts students, from left: Maria Vivas, Katherine Zink, Jacquelynn Kiger, Jayson Wilson and Michael Ibasfalean, with “Soupy” Davis, seated, after an interview for the Voice of Cortez project. PHOTO PROVIDED

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CORTEZ — Residents of this historic fishing village are having their annual picnic Saturday and students are helping bring the past alive during the event.

Cortez natives have been holding this annual potluck luncheon for 20 years or so, said A.P. Bell Fishhouse manager Karen Bell, one of the organizers.

“It’s like a neighborhood picnic,” Bell said, “but anyone can come.”

Bell Fishhouse will supply the mullet, and Bell’s restaurant, Star Fish Co., will prepare it. Everything else will be potluck.
Lunch begins at 1 p.m. at the Few-Miller Dock, 4531 123rd St. W., on the Sarasota Bay, but guests are encouraged to arrive by 12:30 p.m. because there will be a crowd.

Bell said added features at this year’s gathering come courtesy of Manatee School for the Arts students.

As part of a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration-sponsored project, students interviewed longtime Cortez residents about their lives in the community and relationship to the fisheries and marine environment.

Students translated the multiple interview recordings into spoken historical monologues, paintings and photographs, said Steve Marshall, head of the Manatee School for the Arts Social Studies Department.

The project was called Voices of Cortez, Marshall said. Students will perform lunch monologues based on the interview translations,

A student art exhibit will hang in Bell Fishhouse with photographs taken during a village tour, paintings and fish prints.
Two of student Katherine Zink’s photographs were chosen to be displayed.

“It was very interesting,” said Zink, a 17-year-old junior at the Palmetto school. “During the tour they gave us information about being a fisherman.”

She said she used that information to inform the photos she took around the village.
Another student, Michael Ibasfalean, did an interview and was subject of one because he lives in Cortez and his family’s village roots go back several generations.

Ibasfalean said he even learned some things about his hometown.

“We interviewed Soupy Davis,” the 18-year-old senior said, “and I learned he ran a charter boat.”

Bell said she was looking forward to people helping to identify the faces in two batches of old photographs that will be on displayed.

“There’s no better way to spend the day than to be on the bay,” Bell said.

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Published in: on April 18, 2013 at 9:26 am  Leave a Comment  

DOT calls for Cortez Bridge meeting

The Florida Department of Transportation will host the first in a series of public meetings about the Cortez Bridge 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at Kirkwood Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 6101 Cortez Road W., Bradenton.

The meeting is part of the project development and environmental study required before any bridge project can begin, a DOT press release said.

The meeting will be an open-house format where people will be able to ask questions of representatives and provide comments in a one-on-one setting.

Options available to the DOT for the .9 mile section of S.R. 684/Cortez Road that links Cortez to Bradenton Beach include a short-term maintenance project, a long-term overhaul that might require the bridge to be closed for several months, or replacing the existing two-lane bridge with a new, two-lane bridge with emergency lanes.

Several public meetings on the bridge will be held before the DOT delivers its recommendations to the public.

For more information, call 863-519-2304.

Published in: on April 16, 2013 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Politics Near Cortez Beginning to Warm Up

From the Tampa Tribune – Wednesday May 17, 1916

Tampa Tribune Wednesday, May 17, 1916

Published in: on April 3, 2013 at 11:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Brenda Gail Fulford Ramsey

Brenda Gail Fulford Ramsey, 53, passed away March 18, 2013.

Born in Cortez, Florida she was a lifelong resident.

She is survived by her husband of 37 years William C. Ramsey, a son Austin, 2- brothers David of Bradenton and Donald of Cortez, FL. She is also survived by 2- sisters Betty Noble and Peggy Monteith both of Bradenton and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial services will be held in the coming weeks. In her honor memorial donations may be made to Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St West, Cortez, Florida 34215.

Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 26th Street Chapel, 5624 26th Street West, Bradenton, FL 34207 in charge of arrangements.

Private condolences to:

Published in: on March 21, 2013 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sue Turner Maddox

Sue Turner Maddox, 80, of Cortez, died March 1. She was the granddaughter of Capt. Nathan Fulford. who was one of the founders of the village of Cortez. She was born March 3, 1932, in Mulberry, Fla., to the late Christopher C. and Myrtle (Fulford) Turner.

She grew up and lived in the Mulberry area until 1965, when she moved to Manatee County. She and her husband, the late R.C. Dick Maddox, owned and operated the Humpty Dumpty Restaurant in Mulberry until the mid 1960s.

Mrs. Maddox worked as a bookkeeper with A.P. Bell Fish Company in Cortez and as a waitress at Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant. She was a long time advocate for the Cortez fishing village, and a member of the Anna Maria Island Democratic Club where she served as treasurer. She was active with the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, served as a docent at the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez, as an usher with the Asolo Repertory Theatre, volunteered as a guardian ad litem for many years, and also as a reading assistant at Anna Maria Elementary School.

A celebration of life will be held 1-3 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at Swordfish Grill Restaurant, 4628 119th St. W., Cortez. Memorials may be made to Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, Florida Maritime Museum or the Island Democratic Club in her memory. Condolences for the family may be made online at

Mrs. Maddox is survived by sons Richard and wife Annette of Cortez and Michael and wife Paula of Terra Ceia; brother Christopher “Skeet” and wife Kitty Turner of St. Petersburg; sister Betty Lou Turner of Bradenton; grandchildren Crystal, Cassie, Karla, Tres and Christopher; and nephew Chris Osborne and his two children.

Published in: on March 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Florida Maritime Museum News

See what’s new at the Florida Maritime Museum!

New Exhibit

“Celebrate Cortez” Paintings by the Florida HiWay Women Artists

Exhibit Opening Reception
Tuesday, March 5th from 5:30-7pm
Featuring live music from David and Dino Rice. Light bites provided. Reservations are appreciated. (941) 708-6120.

The beauty of our maritime surroundings is brought to life by The Florida HiWay Women Artists. These accomplished, female artists are dedicated to painting on-location (plein air) and travel around the state capturing the extraordinary beauty of nature. They’ve named their group in honor of the Highway Men Artists of the 1950’s who worked in a similar spirit, with a similar love of the Florida landscape, and sold their paintings as they traveled around the state.

An exhibit of these artworks featuring local scenes from Cortez will be on display from February 28th through March 27th.

The featured artists are: Lynnie Angus, Joanna Coke, Diane Glatzer, Nina Hepburn, Mary Lou Krieger, Dorothy Okray, Jerry Palmer, Pauline Peiler, and Rolla Schuh.

Catch them painting live at Music on the Porch on Saturday, March 9th from noon-4pm!

Historical River Cruise Aboard the Island Pearl

Benefits Manatee County Historical Resources

Saturday, March 2. Tuesday, March 5 and Friday, March 29 (Twice per day!)

This tour of the Manatee River aboard the Island Pearl will be narrated by local historian, Cathy Slusser.

Beginning at 10am and 1pm, the 2-hour tours leave from Pier 22, 1200 First Avenue West, Downtown Bradenton,

Seating is limited so purchase tickets in advance. Tickets are $30 and a percentage of the proceeds benefit the Florida Maritime Museum.

For reservations, call 941-780-8010.

Ralph Middleton Munroe: A Presentation by Charlie Munroe

Saturday, April 6th at 1:00pm

The Florida Maritime Museum is honored to be hosting a presentation by Charlie Munroe, grandson of the renowned boat builder, designer, photographer, and early Florida pioneer Ralph Middleton Munroe. Charlie lived his first 25 years in The Barnacle, the home built by his grandfather in 1896 and now a Florida State Historic Park. He will be discussing the life of his grandfather, Ralph Munroe with emphasis on his boats and why he is noted as the creator of the seaworthy shoal draft sailboat.

Free, but seating is limited so reservations are required. Contact Amara (941) 708-6120

The presentation will be followed by a casual reception. An affiliated exhibit about Ralph Munroe’s life will be on exhibit through the month of April.

Special Thanks

Thank you to everyone who made the Titanic event such a success! And extra gratitude to the following sponsors:R.B. “Chips” Shore, Clerk of Circuit Court
Fresh Market
Piece of Cake
Island Real Estate
Talk of the Town Catering
Cindy Thompson

Expedition Florida 500

Monday, March 4th, 2:30- 4pm

Presentation and Q&A Session

Justin Riney, founder of the organization “Mother Ocean“, will conduct an overview and Q&A session about his 365-day paddle-board tour of Florida’s waterways.

Partnering with Viva Florida 500, the Florida Department of State, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and others, Riney and his team have embarked on a journey of exploration, adventure stewardship, science, and sport.

Build Your Own Sailboat!

Puddle Duck Building Class

April 6th & 7th, 13th & 14th
(9am – 4pm each day)

Registration Deadline March 8th

The “Puddle Duck Racer” is an inexpensive, sturdy, lightweight 8 foot long 4 foot wide sailing scow. The hull design is a 12” high hull with side air boxes as seats and a large fore deck. It will carry a centerboard and folding rudder to make sailing in the shallow bays safe and convenient. The hull should weigh less than 100 pounds and with its flat shape can be stored on its side in a garage taking up just under 8 square feet of floor space. They are easily handled by two adults for loading on a roof or in a van and can be readily trailered as well.

Classes are open to anyone and fees are per boat, not per person. In order to ensure adequate preparation and materials, the deadline to sign up is Friday, March 8th at 5 p.m. Teams of 3-5 people per boat are ideal. Secure your registration early as space is limited. Contact John for more info. (941) 708-6120.

Music on the Porch

Saturday, March 9th

Second Saturdays from Noon – 4 p.m.
A different musical host will be featured each month. You can enjoy the music, or bring an instrument and make some of your own. Kids and the young at heart are invited to make a different musical instrument each month. (Small materials fee for instruments.)March 9th
Musical Host:
Rick Quimby
Food Vendor: Banana Cabana
Special Feature: “Florida HiWay Women” will be on site doing “plein air” painting during the event.Questions contact Amara
(941) 708-6120

Raffle Winner


Bob Cole, of Ocean Park, WA was the lucky winner of the beautiful Nutshell Pram Sailboat designed by Joel White. He is visiting Florida for a family reunion and was excited to win.

If you didn’t win this time, keep an eye out for our next boat raffle. Rumor has it that its an Optimist Pram!

Museum Staff

Karen Riley-Love, Director
(941) 708-6121

John Beale, Volunteer and Education Coordinator
(941) 708-6120

Amara Cocilovo, Curator
(941) 708-6120

Copyright © 2012 Florida Maritime Museum, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 100
Cortez, FL 34215


Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Letter to Cortez Residents

Mr. Shore asked me to send the attached letter to you regarding the Australian Pine trees at the museum. We deeply regret that the Australian Pines in the parking lot have outlived their projected lifespan and are now a safety hazard. Please see Mr. Shore’s letter for details along with his invitation to participate in the choice of replacement trees. Do not hesitate to let us know if you have a preference of a type of tree. We will be collecting your ideas and forwarding them to him.

Kind Regards,


Karen Riley-Love

Supervisor, Florida Maritime Museum

for R.B. “Chips” Shore

Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller



“Pride in Service with a Vision to the Future”

Letter to Cortez Residents.pdf

Published in: on February 26, 2013 at 11:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival celebrates a distinctive way of life


Visitors pack the food area at the 2012 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

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As far as John Stevely is concerned, all the great fresh seafood, all the fine art and crafts, all the live music and all the games at the Cortez Village Fishing Commercial Festival this weekend are just bonuses.

The main attraction, Stevely said, is Cortez Village itself.

“It’s amazing,” said Stevely, who has been involved with organizing the festival since it began in the early 1980s. “You turn off Cortez and you have a chance to walk down the street of a historic village. It’s a great place to bring a camera. And you get a chance to see where your seafood comes from. All the fresh local seafood comes in through Cortez.”

As gorgeous and rich in history as the village may be, it’s going to be the food, art, music and games that draw thousands of people to the Cortez Village for the festival which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The festival has grown into one of the Bradenton area’s most popular annual events, with some 50 artists displaying nautically themed works, local bands playing for two straight days and tons of fresh seafood from local restaurants and vendors.

The festival is so successful, Stevely said, that organizers didn’t feel the need to stray from the formula that people like so much. But it has moved to the east of the village, adjacent to the Florida maritime Museum.

As always, there’s a theme for this year’s festival. But even Stevely has a hard time explaining the significance of this year’s theme, “Better Fish to Fry.”

But, he said, the festival is making life better for areas residents all the time, because the proceeds go to restoring and preserving 95 acres of environmentally valuable wetlands and uplands just east of Cortez Village. The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) has purchased most of that land, which is some of the last undeveloped property on Sarasota Bay.

Details: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 16-17, Cortez Fishing Village, 4415 119th St. W., Bradenton. Tickets: $3 adults; children ages 12 and younger free. Offsite parking available at G.T. Bray Park overflow parking at 5502 33rd Ave. Drive, W. or Coquina Beach with shuttle bus to Cortez ($2.50 round trip). Additional parking will be available east of the village off Cortez Road. Information: 941-722-4524 or

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Published in: on February 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cortez festival arrives Feb. 16-17

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

An estimated 25,000 people are expected to converge on the historic village of Cortez the weekend of Feb. 16-17 for the annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

According to Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage festival chair Linda Molto, details are finalized, festival signs are going up and everything is in place to begin welcoming festivalgoers.

“Everything is fine as far as the festival is concerned,” Molto said at a Feb. 3 FISH meeting. “We could always use more volunteers, though.”

FISH treasurer Jane von Hahmann said most of the Saturday, Feb. 16, volunteer positions have been filled, but openings still exist for Sunday, Feb. 17.

Von Hahmann said as many as 40 volunteers are needed to service the beer truck.

“The company manned part of it for us last year, but they are not doing it at all this year, and we still have openings we are
trying to fill for the ticket booths,” she said.

Otherwise, she said, “I’m pleasantly surprised at the number of volunteers we have right now. We created a spreadsheet of volunteers this year, so hopefully next year it will be a lot easier to coordinate our volunteers.”

This is the 31st consecutive year for the fishing festival, which will feature a variety of food, music, arts and crafts, and plenty of entertainment.

Passerine will open at the main stage at the festival at 10 a.m. and the harmonizing Shanty Singers take the stage at 11:30 a.m., followed by awards and introductions.

The music picks back up at 12:30 p.m. with Cortez’ country musician Eric von Hahmann, followed by SoulRCoaster at 2:30 p.m., and rock group Razing Cane will sound out Saturday’s music finale on the main stage at 4:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Soupy Davis and his band open the main stage at 10:30 a.m., followed by von Hahmann at noon. Shotgun Justice takes the stage at 2 p.m. and Scott’s Garage closes out the main stage entertainment at 4 p.m.

Seafood is offered in all its forms and recipes straight from the waters of Sarasota Bay and, Molto said, Cortez residents always look forward to showing off a real working fishing village — complete with its own self-admitted “quirkiness, from scenery to seafood; from history to hijinks and from knowledge to novelty.”

The festival prides itself on having something to offer everyone, she said.

Entrance to the festival is off Cortez Road at 119th Street West. Free parking is available east of the village. Shuttle buses also will run festivalgoers from Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach and from G.T. Bray Park, 3001 59th St. W., Bradenton.
Cost for the shuttle is $2.50 each way and exact change is required. Admission to the festival is $3 and children ages 12 and under are admitted free.

“Bring the grandparents, bring the kids and be prepared to spend the day with us, doing what we do best — having way too much fun,” said festival committee member John Stevely.

The festival hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. both days.

Volunteers can call the FISH office at 941-254-4927 and leave a message with contact information or email Molto at

Christina Guerrero, 24, of State College of Florida in Bradenton, is the winner of the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival design award.

Guerrero’s award will be featured as the festival logo to accompany the theme “Better Fish to Fry.”
“I came up with the design with the thought I wanted to give the illusion that the fish was so fresh that it was pulled right out of the water, directly into the frying pan,” Guerrero said in a prepared statement.

She said she got into graphic design in a roundabout way, but feels the industry is her future. She graduates in June with an AAS in graphic design.

Guerrero is a Sarasota native, with a 2-year-old son, Davin, and is expecting her second child a month after her graduation.
She claims a $250 prize donated by award-winning artist Susanna Spann, who previously taught illustration at the Ringling School of Art & Design.

Guerrero’s artwork will be displayed on the festival T-shirt, which can be purchased at multiple locations during the Feb. 16-17 festivities in Cortez.

Published in: on February 12, 2013 at 9:42 am  Comments (1)  

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