Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival this Weekend
Are you familiar with ‘old’ Florida? Are you someone who can appreciate a different perspective on what’s important in life? Are you willing to spend a day amongst fishing boats, gear, fish houses and commercial fishermen? If any of this sounds intriguing, it might be a good idea for you to attend the annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. This two-day event is held the third weekend of February every year.
In 1981 the first event drew 500 people to this small fishing village on Florida’s central west coast. They gathered to celebrate Florida’s commercial seafood industry – its past, its present and its future.
Since then the festival has grown from a one day event to two days with an average attendance of over 20,000. Considering that the entire village is less than 10 blocks, that’s a lot of visitors for this tiny community.
Why do so many people attend this event you ask? Well, there are many reasons. The main one is that there are very few places left in Florida like Cortez. As you turn off the main road into the village it is obvious that you are stepping back in time. The houses are small cottages with collections of commercial boats and gear in the yards.
As you go two blocks down to the shoreline you discover a number of fish houses where local fishermen sell their catches. Cortez is located on the northern edge of Sarasota Bay and it might just be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
And as if that were not enough, there’s more. In addition to the aesthetics of the community there is also the spirit of its residents. The people who live in this small village are also what make it so special. They possess an appreciation of the simpler things in life, whether it be a freshly fried mullet for dinner or sitting on the front porch watching the world go by.
To find Cortez Village on a map, locate Bradenton which is about 50 miles south of Tampa. Find State Road 684, known locally as Cortez Road or 44th Avenue, and go west to the beaches. As you approach Cortez Bridge which leads to Bradenton Beach, you will turn left, or south, at 124th St. Ct. West, into the village.
Some parking is available a couple blocks east of the village if you arrive early enough. There is additional parking at Coquina Beach on the island and at the Cortez Commons Shopping Center, Cortez Road & 59th St. West (5584 Cortez Rd Bradenton, Fl 34209).
Buses shuttle visitors from both of these remote parking locations to Cortez for $1 each way.
Admission to the festival is $2 and children under 12 are free.
The Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is organized entirely by a volunteer committee of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (F.I.S.H.), a Florida not-for-profit corporation.
For other fun seafood festivals in our great state visit our website.
Information courtesy of F.I.S.H., Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage