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Girl Scouts to Holmes Beach: Bring back outdoor concerts

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Girl Scouts from Troop 316, sixth-graders at Manatee School for the Arts, ask Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti at a Jan. 22 meeting to bring back Concerts in the Park, a once-a-month outdoor party, which was canceled Jan. 8 by promoter Island Festivals Inc. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Girl Scout Troup 316 engaged in the political process in Holmes Beach Jan. 22, as scouts shared their concerns about the cancelation of Concerts in the Park.

        They gave the city petitions signed by more than 100 people seeking to bring back the outdoor festivals at the city field.

        “We all disagree with the mayor of Holmes Beach,” the petition reads. “For just one night a month, we would like to get together and have fun.”

        The promoter is Island Festivals Inc., owned by Bradenton resident Cindy Thompson, who canceled the concerts earlier this month, apparently on learning Mayor Carmel Monti had reinstated the $250 field fee.

        The city also charges a $50 application fee.

        Former Mayor Rich Bohnenberger waived the fees in May for all field users.

        Newly elected, Monti reinstituted the fee Jan. 8.

        According to Monti, the city loses money on the concerts, which require field cleanup and maintenance and, he said at a Jan. 8 meeting, he would study solutions to help nonprofits and benefit the community.

        At the Jan. 22 commission meeting, the girls told the mayor and commissioners they favor bringing back the festival, helping the nonprofits, because it brought the community together with music and food.

        “We didn’t cancel anything. We just raised the fee to what it used to be in the previous year,” said Monti. He said Thompson, was “invited to come in to speak with me and she did not.”

        Monti told the scouts there would be an alternative to the Concerts in the Park.

        Commissioner Pat Morton said he expected another concert event by the end of February.

        After the meeting, the 11- and 12-year-old scouts said they were not satisfied with the mayor’s response.

        They said it was not just an issue of money, and that the mayor’s response, which questioned the promoter’s integrity, was disrespectful.

        “We all felt, although he didn’t cancel the concerts, his actions led to it,” said Emily Turner-Leathem, 12.

        The scouts said they would meet with others in the troop to decide how to proceed.

        Savannah Higgins, 12, said, “We’ll probably be thinking about how to help relocate the fest.”

        Hannah McCracken, 11, added, “Just because we’re kids doesn’t mean we can’t change the world.”

        A two-day festival is planned at the field in March in cooperation with the city by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce. Island Cityfest, sponsored by The Islander, will be held March 1-2 at city field, featuring Friday night and Saturday entertainment, and art, crafts, food and drink vendors, as well as a Saturday car show. Proceeds benefit the chamber and its college scholarship fund.

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