CORTEZ – The theme this year is "Wishin' I Was Fishing." If you love old Florida and can appreciate the magical lure of a real Florida fishing village, preserved in all of its rustic glory, join the fun this weekend at the annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.
Since 1981, the festival has drawn visitors to West Manatee's small fishing village to celebrate Florida’s commercial seafood industry – its past, its present and its future.
The festival has grown from a one day event to two days, with an average attendance of over 25,000. Considering that the entire village is less than 10 blocks, that’s quite a bit of foot traffic.
There are very few places left in Florida like Cortez, and as you turn off the main road into the village it is obvious that you are stepping back in time among the small cottages replete with commercial boats and fishing gear in their yards.
The residents of Cortez are a special breed, dedicated to a way of life that has become all too uncommon in today's Florida, making a visit to the village all the more special.
During the festival, you can not only enjoy the village's unique charm, but live music, nautical arts and crafts, children’s activities, environmental exhibits, more seafood than imaginable and of course – beer.
Admission is $3.00 for Adults; Children 12 and under are free
Remote Parking for the Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival
Festival goers will want to note that there is a remote parking area in west Bradenton. You can avoid the traffic and enjoy the bus ride with your friends to the Festival ($2.50 round trip). The new parking site is located at G. T. Bray Park (5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, 34209). Just turn east off of 59th St. onto 33rd Ave. W. You can’t miss it.
As in past years, this same shuttle service is being provided from the remote parking area located at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island. Island folks can take the free trolley to the parking site.
Also, the parking area just east of the village off of Cortez Road has been expanded again this year. But get there early or later in the day as this parking area tends to fill up quickly. Parking spots open up later in the day.
Another option is to park in the western part of town. Many folks manage small parking areas throughout the village with some charging a fee depending on how close they are to the village.
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.
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