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Seafood fans prepare to feast in Cortez

The 35th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is set for Feb. 18 and 19 with seafood, live music, nautical art and more.

CORTEZ – It’s almost time for February’s most salty and delicious local event – the 35th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, set for the weekend of Feb. 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Celebrate "Fishing For Our Future" with eight local bands, including a scurvy group of sea shanty singers, Cortez native Eric Von and Cortez fishing Captain Soupy Davis and his band.

Check out nautical and environmental works by more than 50 artists focused on the historic fishing village’s maritime heritage. Take the kids to the expanded children’s play area and visit the marine life touch tank.

Explore the Cortez Cultural Center, the FISH Boatworks and the Florida Maritime Museum, all free, then head to the commercial fishing docks on Sarasota Bay for dock talks by Florida Sea Grant representatives and demonstrations and interactive displays by Fishing For Freedom.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, set sail for the food court, featuring locally-caught grouper, stone crab and other selections, with menu items for landlubbers too. Admission is $4, with kids 12 and under free. Proceeds benefit FISH, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, to restore and expand the 95-acre FISH Preserve east of Cortez village.

To find the festival, head west toward Anna Maria Island on Cortez Road to the entrance at the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W.

Free parking is available east of the village off Cortez Road at the FISH Preserve, a five-minute walk from the gate. Free offsite parking is available at G.T Bray Park, 5502 33rd Ave. Drive W., Bradenton (turn east off 59th Street onto 33rd Avenue Drive) or at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island, with a shuttle bus to Cortez ($3 round trip). For more information, visit the link below or call 941-254-4972.

Music Schedule

Saturday, Feb. 18:
10-11 a.m. – Shanty Singers
11:15-12:45 p.m. – Manatee River BlueGrass
12:45-1:30 p.m. – Awards and introductions
2-4 p.m. – Eric Von Band
4:30-6 p.m. – Jason Haran

Sunday, Feb. 19
10:30-noon – Soupy Davis and his band
12.30-2 p.m. – Passerine
12:30-4 p.m. – Eric Von (Bratton Store Porch)
2:30-4 p.m. – Karen and Jimmy Band
4:30-6 p.m. – Koko Ray