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Date of Issue: August 30, 2007

Jazz festival good for majority of Island

The month-long Jazz on the Island festival during August was aimed at bringing German and European visitors to Anna Maria Island and appears to have been at the least a moderate success, according to those who were directly affected by the campaign.

Caryn Hodge of the Chiles Group, owners of the Sandbar Restaurant in Anna Maria, the BeachHouse in Bradenton Beach and the Mar Vista on Longboat Key, said there were a “lot of Europeans at the Sandbar and especially Germans at the BeachHouse” to listen to live jazz during August. In addition, there was a lot of walk-in traffic from local residents who came specifically to hear the music.

This was the first year of the festival, which was sponsored by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Hodge was surprised by its success.

“People weren’t really looking for jazz, so they were very pleased when they discovered we had live jazz music. We’ve had a very nice response and some people have even said they heard about the jazz music from others, so word-of-mouth appears to have helped,” she said.

The Tradewinds Resort and Tortuga Inn in Bradenton Beach reported that collectively they had about 30 European visitors book rooms at the two properties just to come to the Island for jazz music.

Angela Rodocker of the Sun House Restaurant in Bradenton Beach said her establishment, which featured live jazz music nightly, did well from the festival.

“We had a lot of extra business, a lot of Germans and Europeans who came just for the music. I think it was a great idea and I hope there’s another one next year,” she said.

Rodocker also indicated that the BridgeWalk Resort adjacent to the Sun House did well during August.

“I think we were pleasantly surprised by the occupancy,” she observed. “It was a good month during a time when it’s traditionally a bit slow.”

All well and good, said Marge Moran of the Club Bamboo in Bradenton Beach, but her resort “didn’t see anybody from Germany or Europe.” Still, she said, August was a decent month for visitors, at least until school started on Aug. 20.

“After that, we’ve had nothing,” she said.

CVB executive director Larry White said the success of the initial festival means it will likely be held again next year, only without the outdoor jazz concert in the middle of an August heat wave.

“We’ve gotten good response from our members about the festival. The restaurants seemed to do well and I know the TDC [Manatee County Tourism Development Council] supports another event, so we’re already planning for next year,” he said. “We are most definitely happy with the results for a first-time experience.”