Bayfest celebrates11-year success

Judy and Gus Perez, along with golden retrievers Madison and Rudy, came from Sarasota Oct. 15 to the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Bayfest, as they have in many years past. This year they had a particular purpose.

Among the tents, booths and tables lining Anna Maria’s Pine Avenue, there was a group known as Dogs on the Beach gathering signatures on a petition proposing a small area of beach on Anna Maria Island where dogs would be permitted.

The Perezes and their canine companions went to Bayfest, but also to support the cause.

Just down the street, a group of volunteers from Safe Haven Animal Rescue of Florida spent Bayfest trying to help homeless pets. By midday, a spokesperson said some of the dogs they brought to Bayfest might soon go home with new families.

“Bayfest is always a very successful event for us. It’s a relaxed and fun environment to get a chance to speak with people,” Glenda Campbell of Safe Haven said as she corralled a couple of rambunctious pups. She went on to say they received more inquiries about their animals and the organization than in years past.

Also, in a booth on Pine Avenue, the Rotary Club of Anna Maria was raising money to send World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit war memorials.

Rotary member Dawn Maley was pleased with the efforts. “Today we’ve raised more than enough to send two veterans up there,” she said.

There also was a booth for Cultural Connections, a committee of arts organizations promoting ArtsHop Nov. 11-13. Facilitator Joan Voyles said, “This is a great event for spreading the word that we have an excellent arts community here, something which many people don’t realize.”

There was plenty going on along the street throughout the day, including the classic car show — with a wide array of vehicles from all eras of motoring the roads — that stretched nearly two blocks on Pine.

There was a children’s entertainment area, a fishing contest, a pie contest, retail arts and crafts vendors, and, of course, an extensive food court that included libations and non-stop live music.

The celebration continued to 10 p.m. and the crowd, which was consistently strong throughout Oct. 15, focused on the main stage talent and a bath of pink colors across the sky at sunset.

Bayfest began Oct. 14 with a nighttime concert at Pine Avenue and Bay Boulevard.

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