Crowds come out for Bayfest

Bayfest 1024 tiger
A 1965 Sunbeam Tiger attracted lots of attention at Bayfest on Saturday. - Cindy Lane | Sun

ANNA MARIA – Despite a serious problem with red tide this summer, the Island’s first festival of the season was a success as residents and visitors braved the warm weather to enjoy themselves at Bayfest on Pine Avenue sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.

If there was any red tide in the air, it didn’t seem to be a bother.

“It was very well attended,” said Chamber President Terri Kinder, who said thousands of people showed up. “It was great to see all the people who came out.”

She said the crowd was great during the morning, lightened in the heat of the day and increased as shade emerged and everything cooled off.

When the threat of red tide abated last week, Kinder said the vendors were anxious to participate.

“Not one vendor pulled out,” she said. “We didn’t have any cancellations.”

More than 100 classic cars and their owners greeted visitors as they entered Pine Avenue from Gulf Drive. The Bill Mergens Memorial Auto Show, named after the show’s late organizer, attracted the attention of the visitors, some of whom may have owned or wanted to own one of the colorful vehicles in their youth.

Vendors filled the sides of the street, offering arts and crafts, while non-profits gave opportunities to help a cause.

There was a bounce house, slides and games in the Kid’s Zone and across the street, Roser Memorial Community Church had arts, coloring and face painting for youngsters.

Further down the street, the food court added a variety of aromas to the air. A large tent shaded diners as they sat at rows of tables.

Music boomed from the stage at the end of Pine Avenue and later, after the sun went down, the dancers took to the blocked off street.

Kinder did not have any monetary results at press time. Some of the proceeds will go to Island workers who suffered as the Island economy was hit by the lack of business from the red tide.

Kinder said it was a great Bayfest and praised the people who worked it.

“The volunteers did a wonderful job,” she said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”