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Date of Issue: February 20, 2008

Cortez festival grand from all angles

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Hundreds - thousands in two days - of folks are entertained at the festival that celebrates Cortez, its music, arts, history, fishing tradition and the future.
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The "community dock" played its role in the festival, welcoming guests to linger in Cortez and providing an exceptional view of the bay and beyond.
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The 2008 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival theme of "Networking" was accented by a display of commercial fishing nets in the old Fulford Fish House, a quiet, cool place where Cortez oldtimers like to spend their time, whittling, weaving nets and telling tales, fish or no fish. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy
The "community dock" played its role in the festival, welcoming guests to linger in Cortez and providing an exceptional view of the bay and beyond.
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Tony Rizzo of Holmes Beach, foreground on guitar, and his Project SRQ group entertained at the festival.
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Servers at the Cafe's Caribbean booth dish up a variety of seafood for festivalgoers.
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A youngster at the "touch tank" squeals and turns away from the sight of crabs and such - all little critters friendly enough to cuddle.

The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is over, the weather was friendly, and Cortez is $62,000 richer - or that much less in hock for mortgages owed for preservation of its part of Old Florida.

It was the 26th celebration of the way of life of the 120-year-old fishing village across the Cortez Bridge from Anna Maria Island. Islanders, Floridians, visitors from north, east and west, some 24,000 strong, flocked to the historic settlement over the weekend to help celebrate.

Fine art and crafts, boats, the working waterfront, music, food from all over the Gulf Coast, children’s games, tours, the Florida Maritime Museum, the large natural preserve that forms the eastern part of the village, all were part of the festival.

Proceeds from the festival go to the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, sponsor of the event that has put past festival revenues into the purchase of the FISH Preserve and will do the same this year. The festivals and help from governments and private donors have paid for the 100-acre Preserve, and now the money will go to finance purchase of the few plots there still in private hands.