Cortez fishing festival, FISH celebrate 30th year

There’s something fishy in Cortez.

That’s the theme of this year’s annual Commercial Fishing Festival that will play host to an estimated 25,000 people who are ready to descend on the historic village of Cortez.

The festival will offer visitors two unique days of fun and family entertainment as the 30th annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival kicks off Feb. 18-19, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Events include live music, marine life discussions and display, children’s activities and at the heart of maritime cultures will be a variety of fresh seafood, “with choices for land lovers,” festival organizers said.

More than 50 vendors will be on site with arts and crafts, as well as artwork featuring a nautical theme.

Festival activities will also take place at the east end of Cortez, at the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W. where festivalgoers can enjoy live music and additional parking.

Entry to the festival is $3 and children under the age of 12 are free. All proceeds from the festival are collected by the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage. FISH organizes the annual festival and uses the proceeds for the continuing expansion and restoration of the FISH Preserve.

The 95-acre parcel along Sarasota Bay is considered environmentally sensitive. The FISH effort to preserve the land, and buffer the village from development has been endorsed by famed ocean explorer, Jean-Michel Cousteau.

“Your FISH Preserve is very impressive,” wrote Cousteau, founder of Oceans Future Society. “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 resource base on which they depend. Your project is an important reminder of the vital connections between nature and humanity.”

For a schedule of festival activities, and more information, visit or call 941-708-6120.

Festival entertainment Saturday, Feb. 18:

    Stage 1, Waterfront

10:30 a.m.: Soul R Coaster

Noon: Awards and Introductions

12:30 p.m.: Eric von Hahmann

2 p.m.: Shaman

4 p.m.: Razing Cane

Stage 2, Bratton Store

10:30 a.m.: Eric von Hahmann

11:45 a.m.: Passerine

1 p.m.: Brian Smalley

2:15 pm: St Pete & Main Hatch Motley Shanty Singers

2:45 p.m.: Eric von Hahmann

4 p.m.: Jimmy Johnson


Festival entertainment Sunday, Feb. 19

    Stage 1, Waterfront

10:30 a.m.: Soupy Davis and his Band

12:00 p.m.: Eric von Hahmann

1:30 p.m.: Dr. Dave Band

3:30 p.m.: Gumbo Boogie Band

Stage 2, Bratton Store

10:30 a.m.: Main Hatch Motley Sea Shanty Singers

11:15 a.m.: Jimmy Johnson

12:30 p.m.: Terry Blauvelt

1:45 p.m.: Sister Act (Lane & Val)

3 p.m.: Eric von Hahmann

4 p.m.: Eric & Jimmy


Cortez festival includes off-site parking areas

The 30th annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival draws an estimated 25,000 festivalgoers.

Parking can be an issue.

However, this year festival organizers have addressed the need to accommodate more vehicles by adding a remote parking area at G.T. Bray Park, 5502 33rd Ave. Drive W., Bradenton. A bus will be available to shuttle festivalgoers to the festival gate from the park. The roundtrip shuttle price is $2.50.

The parking at G.T. Bray Park is in addition to the traditional remote parking at Coquina Beach, Bradenton Beach. Parking also is available on the east side of Cortez, but only an early bird can expect to find an open spot, festival organizers said.

Parking within the village also can be found, as some homeowners allow parking for various fees.

The festival activities will run from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 18-19, from the Florida Maritime Museum to the Sarasota Bay shoreline in the historic fishing village of Cortez.

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