We took a step back in time as we meandered through the charming rows of tin-roofed fishing cottages leading us to the entrance of the 35th annual Cortez Fishing Festival in the historic and quaint Cortez Village. There is lots of really fun people watching, and witnessing them celebrating this event, each other and their love of the sea, as well as all those that live in it, makes this such a unique event.
Proceeds from the two-day event go to the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) which works to keep 95 acres of mangrove wetlands shoreline on Sarasota Bay, plus a new land parcel in the middle of the FISH preserve, safe and protected from development.
We paid the admittance fee and took immediate cover from the rain inside the Florida Maritime National Museum. While we were perusing the nautical library, singing arose from the wooden rafters and landed softly upon us. We placed our books back and followed the music into the main gallery and spotted four sailors gleefully singing – no instruments, just the tapping of their feet and their alto voices. It was The Shanty Singers, some wearing their sailor hats. We couldn’t help but smile. As soon as the rain took a break, we headed outside to the now thinned-out crowd at the festival.
Crawfish, seafood gumbo, smoked fish, steamed clams, adult beverages served in coconuts and a plethora of beer were served over and over again. Attendees enjoyed country music and bluegrass bands, face painting, boat rides, marine life talks, and area artists showcasing their nautically themed works of art. This event is a gentle reminder of the simpler days and we look forward to it every year – rain or shine!