Star Fish Cortez Village Florida

cortez fishing festival 2018

Picture an old Florida fishing village of days gone by and you’ll be picturing Cortez as it is today. Located just before the bridge that leads to Anna Maria Island, snuggled on Sarasota Bay, Cortez is still a working fishing village.

Designated as Historic, the population of this small village hovers just under 5000, and day to day life hums along as it always has. But once a year during the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival almost 20,000 people visit over a 2 day period – this year is the 36th annual festival. The first festival was attended by “only” 500 people.


Image: Pinterest

Why do so many people attend? There are very few places like Cortez left in Florida. The city is a small collection of original cottages, many with boats and fishing gear in their yards – just the way it has always been. The residents are people with a great spirit who enjoy a simple lifestyle of fishing and porch sitting and helping their neighbor.


Image: Pinterest


Festival with a purpose

In 2000 a community wide effort lead by the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (F.I.S.H.), resulted in the purchase of 100 acres of land adjacent to the village. The land is made up of  mangrove, wetland, and upland habitats along the shoreline of Sarasota Bay and protects the coastline that is critical to many species that Cortez depends on. The purchase of the F.I.S.H. Preserve lands is funded primarily by the Festival.


Fish Preserve Image: University of Florida



What’s At The Festival?

Of course there will be an abundance of delicious seafood, but that’s not all! There will be lots of vendors including nautical arts and crafts, a marine life touch tank for the young and young-at-heart, “Dock Talks” featuring Florida Sea Grant Biologists, tours of the Florida Maritime Museum for history buffs as well as the newly renovated Cortez Cultural Center. If you’ve ever wondered about boat building visit the F.I.S.H. Boatworks to see this lost art in action – you can even enter a raffle to win a custom built boat!

No festival would be complete without music and beer, and there is plenty of both available at The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

2018 Entertainment Schedule

Saturday February 17th 10:00 – 11:00 am: Shanty Singers
11:15 – 12:45 pm: Doug Deming
12:45 – 1:30pm Awards and Introductions
2:00 – 4:00 pm: Eric Von Band
4:30 – 6:00 pm: Jason HaramSunday February 18th 

10:30 – 12:00 am: Soupy Davis and his Band
12.30 – 2:00 pm Manatee River BlueGrass
2:30 – 4:00 pm: Soul R Coaster
4:30 – 6:00 pm: Koko Ray

Sunday Afternoon
On the Bratton Store Porch

1:00 – 5:00 pm: Eric Von

Both Days
Be sure to visit the waterfront docks for:
Fishing For Freedom – Demonstration and interactive displays
“Dock Talks” – by Florida Sea Grant representatives 

Also see the FISH Boatworks, Cortez Cultural Center and The
Florida Maritime Museum: admission is free 


With So Many People Attending Where Will I Park?

Remote Parking

Every year there is a something new at the Festival. Festival goers will want to note that there is a remote parking area in west Bradenton. You can avoid the traffic and enjoy the bus ride with your friends to the Festival ($1.50 one way $3.00 round trip). The new parking site is located at G. T. Bray Park (5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, 34209).  Just turn east off of 59th St. onto 33rd Ave. W. You can’t miss it.

As in past years, this same shuttle service is being provided from the remote parking area located at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island. Island folks can take the free trolley to the parking site.

Also, the parking area just east of the village off of Cortez Road has been expanded again this year. But get there early or later in the day as this parking area tends to fill up quickly. Parking spots open up later in the day.

Another option is to park in the western part of town. Many folks manage small parking areas throughout the village with some charging a fee depending on how close they are to the village.



Quick Facts

Dates: February 17-18, 2017

Place: Cortez Village, FL

Admission: $4.00 Adults, Children 12 and under Free

Parking: Coquina Beach, G.T. Bray Park, Coquina Beach  on Anna Maria Island  On-site




Would you like to visit Anna Maria Island? Contact us to reserve Blue Turtle Cottage – a renovated 3 bedroom home with a private heated pool just steps to the sugar-sand beaches Anna Maria Island is famous for





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