ANNA MARIA – The festival season got off to a good start on Saturday, Oct. 21 with huge crowds, flashy hot rods and performance cars, the aroma of Island foods and music, music, music.
While the temperature was in the 80s, a cool breeze helped keep it livable for participants and attendees. The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce sponsors Bayfest and Chamber President Deb Wing was delighted.
“It went really well and we got a lot of positive feedback from the vendors and people attending it,” she said. “The store owners on Pine Avenue were happy because people were visiting their shops as well as the tents on the street. This a big event for those businesses.”
There was a sad note to this year’s event. Bill Mergens, who has organized all of the Bayfest car shows passed away at home recently. The disc jockey who played oldies for the event, Lance Hubeshmitt, will organize future shows.
“We’re changing the name to the Bill Mergens Memorial Bayfest Car Show in his honor,” Wing said. “We’re going to miss him.”
There was a kid’s play area with bounce houses and games in the parking lot across from Roser Memorial Community Church. Music emanated from the huge stage at the end of Pine Avenue in front of Anna Maris City Pier.
Wing said she was grateful to the city of Anna Maria for its support.
“Thanks to Mayor Dan Murphy,” she said. “He and his wife were at Bayfest and they helped out.”
Wing estimate at lest 8,000 people attended over the course of the day.