ANNA MARIA – As the wind whipped across the Island Friday, Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Terry Kinder knew that Bayfest, the Chamber’s signature fundraiser, was in jeopardy of missing a year for the first time in its 19-year run.
After a meeting with Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy and representatives from arts and crafts vendors, food vendors and others, the decision was made to hold the event at The Center of Anna Maria Island. Due to space constraints, there were no craft vendors, auto show or kid’s zone, but the adults came out to listen to local musicians and enjoy the food, drinks and company of their fellow islanders indoors, away from the storm.
The majority of musical acts planned for the main stage at Bayfest embraced the new venue, including the popular Dr. Dave Band. Three local restaurants, The Fest, Tortilla Bay and The Ugly Grouper, all stepped up to provide food and drinks for the festivities along with other vendors providing sodas and beer.
The start time of noon allowed some of the water flooding the streets from the passage of Tropical Storm Nestor to drain away and locals and visitors alike came out to The Center to celebrate Bayfest and dance the night away, at least until 9 p.m. Though it wasn’t the Bayfest that locals have come to know and love, it proved that the Island community will come together to support each other against all odds, and that a little rain can’t stop the party on Anna Maria Island.
“Looks like a good crowd, considering all we went through,” said Corinn Tippett, a server at The Feast booth.
Nestor did little damage on the Island and Bayfest went on despite the odds against it. For their part, the members of the Chamber hope to not have to deal with temperamental weather during next year’s festivities and return the fundraiser to its traditional Pine Avenue venue.
“We knew we weren’t going to recover (financially) from this, but we had a one-day liquor license and we had to use it Saturday,” said Kinder. “Perhaps we won’t have to deal with this ever again. At least I hope not.”