Cortez community picnic brings history alive

cnudi@bradenton.comApril 18, 2013 

CORTEZ -- Residents of this historic fishing village are having their annual picnic Saturday and students are helping bring the past alive during the event.

Cortez natives have been holding this annual potluck luncheon for 20 years or so, said A.P. Bell Fishhouse manager Karen Bell, one of the organizers.

"It's like a neighborhood picnic," Bell said, "but anyone can come."

Bell Fishhouse will supply the mullet, and Bell's restaurant, Star Fish Co., will prepare it. Everything else will be potluck.

Lunch begins at 1 p.m. at the Few-Miller Dock, 4531 123rd St. W., on the Sarasota Bay, but guests are encouraged to arrive by 12:30 p.m. because there will be a crowd.

Bell said added features at this year's gathering come courtesy of Manatee School for the Arts students.

As part of a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration-sponsored project, students interviewed longtime Cortez residents about their lives in the community and relationship to the fisheries and marine environment.

Students translated the multiple interview recordings into spoken historical monologues, paintings and photographs, said Steve Marshall, head of the Manatee School for the Arts Social Studies Department.

The project was called Voices of Cortez, Marshall said. Students will perform lunch monologues based on the interview translations,

A student art exhibit will hang in Bell Fishhouse with photographs taken during a village tour, paintings and fish prints.

Two of student Katherine Zink's photographs were chosen to be displayed.

"It was very interesting," said Zink, a 17-year-old junior at the Palmetto school. "During the tour they gave us information about being a fisherman."

She said she used that information to inform the photos she took around the village.

Another student, Michael Ibasfalean, did an interview and was subject of one because he lives in Cortez and his family's village roots go back several generations.

Ibasfalean said he even learned some things about his hometown.

"We interviewed Soupy Davis," the 18-year-old senior said, "and I learned he ran a charter boat."

Bell said she was looking forward to people helping to identify the faces in two batches of old photographs that will be on displayed.

"There's no better way to spend the day than to be on the bay," Bell said.

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