Cortez celebrates ‘steady’ roots with annual fishing festival

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For the 2020 poster and T-shirt, organizers looked back to 2010 and found: “Cortez is Still White Boot Ready.” Islander Courtesy Photo

Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.

And many lifetimes have been spent fishing in Cortez. The commercial fishing industry will be celebrated Feb. 15-16 during the 38th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival in the village.

Jane van Hahmann, vice-president of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage and a key organizer for the event, told The Islander Jan. 29 the group expects more than 15,000 visitors to the two-day festival on the waterfront in the 4000 block of 119th Street West between the Florida Maritime Museum and the bayfront. Hours will run 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Admission to the fishing festival is $5, with proceeds to FISH and its mission to preserve the fishing way of life.

With a skeleton crew of planners and help from Florida Sea Grant and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, van Hahmann said 54 artists will display their wares, food and drink vendors will be present and two full days of music is slated to entertain festivalgoers.

More than 20 food vendors will offer shrimp tacos, soft shell crabs, lobster rolls, grouper, fish chowder, mullet, gumbo and other seafood, as well as offerings for carnivores and vegetarians.

Ice cream, fudge and funnel cakes will be available for the sweet tooth.

Beer, rum concoctions and other libations will be available as well.

The festival released the following line-up for the mainstage:

Saturday, Feb. 15:

  • 10-11 a.m. Shanty Singers.
  • 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Doug Demming.
  • 1-1:30 awards and introductions.
  • 2-4 p.m. Eric Von Band.
  • 4:30-6 p.m. Jason Haram.

Sunday, Feb. 16:

  • 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Soupy Davis and his Band.
  • 12:30-2 p.m. Koko Ray Show.
  • 2:30-4 p.m. Karen and Jimmy Band.
  • 4:30-6 p.m. Ted Stevens & the Doo Shots.

Also, on Feb. 16, Eric Von will perform on the porch at the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez.

Local Boy Scouts will guide festival parking for a $5 donation at the FISH Preserve along Cortez Road.

A remote park-and-ride offered by Manatee County Area Transit will be available from G.T. Bray Park, 5502 33rd Ave. Drive W., Bradenton, and from Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. The cost is $3.

On Feb. 15 only, a free park-and-ride will operate at the Cortez Baptist Church, 4411 100th St. W., Cortez.

For more information, visit the website at