By Tom Vaught
SUN PHOTO/MAGGIE FIELD
Some of the estimated 8,000 to 10,000 visitors
pack Pine Avenue Saturday near the food court.
Unseasonably hot and humid weather had people
lined up at the concession stands and looking
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA Bayfest 2006 was better than ever, but
the weather may have kept it from bringing in the biggest
Bayfest organizer Cindy Thompson said preliminary estimates
put the crowd last Saturday at 8,000 to 10,000 people, compared
with last years 10,000 to 12,000. She blames the hot,
muggy weather for driving people away this year.
"I dont think you can measure success by the
number of people it drew," she said. "Despite
the weather, the people who attended had a good time and
the vendors who I talked to sold a lot of merchandise."
Thompson credited the Bayfest Organizing Committee for its
planning over the past six months to address any problems
they had with last years event. She said she is ready
to start planning for Bayfest 2007.
"I think I want to limit the number of restaurants
to 10 from the 17 we had this year," she said. "That
would give us more room in the food court."
She also said she wants to hold a jazz festival next year
the night before the event to get everyone in the mood.
From the 105 classic and souped up cars parked along Pine
Avenue to the savory aromas emanating from the food Chefs
from 10 of the restaurants were busy preparing crab cakes
for the judges across the street during the afternoon. Chamber
President Mark Davis and member Karen LaPensee helped deliver
the plates to a six-member panel that judged them for taste,
texture and presentation. D Coy Ducks took the silver platter
while Paradise Café and The Sun House took second
The childrens area was located in the parking lot
across the street from Roser Memorial Community Church.
There was a NASCAR model car race, a large slide, an inflatablebounce
house and several games for the kids. Live music from a
small stage drew a crowd. A trailer with three air-conditioned,
portable restrooms at one end of that lot became very popular
during the heat of the day. Face painters kept busy and
there were pictures to color for the smaller children under
the tent in front of the church.
A duet played jazz in the garden behind Belle Haven, sponsored
by the Anna Maria Island Historical Society. Those who sat
at outdoor tables enjoyed the shade and the breeze coming
off the canal.
As the day wore on, the crowd at the large stage got larger
as music filled the air. There were beer, wine and margarita
vendors located nearby.