SARASOTA -- Thousands came out Saturday to Ken Thompson Park to celebrate Sarasota Bay and its significance to the community.
The Sarasota Bay Water Festival proceeded despite Mother Nature threatening to wash it out.
"It was a very challenging start, we had a big storm move through," event director Randy Moore said. "It turned out to a beautiful day, when the rain stopped the people came."
The festival highlighted all the beauty of the bay while informing festival-goers on how they can preserve it.
"The purpose of this event is to generate a region-wide awareness of Sarasota Bay to our environment and economy," Moore said.
The event featured live music all day, panel discussions on bay-friendly living, dozens of vendors promoting water recreation and outdoor activities. For the children there was also a fishing clinic, dip netting and nature walks. Mote Marine Laboratory also had various displays of sea life.
Despite the rain, more than 4,000 people came out, ac
cording to Moore.
The festival also included local arts and crafts vendors as well as the winners of the "I love Sarasota Bay Photo Contest" on display.
"It was a great event," said Sally Twinem, of Sarasota, one of the first-place winners. "I enjoyed the event very much."
"I enter competitions all the time, it's a hobby," Twinem said. "It was my first time entering this one."
A student art team from Bayshore High School was at the event creating a community art mural to be displayed in various spots throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Karen Hutcherson was enjoying the live music Saturday.
"I came out to see Comeback Alice," Hutcherson said. "But I ate the lobster quesadilla at Bobo's and it was excellent."
Along with a glass of wine, Hutcherson said she was having a good time.
"I loved all the displays they had of sea life," Hutcherson said. "And look at the view; you can't beat this, rain or shine."
Pedego electric bikes were one of many vendors present.
"We've been selling electric bikes in Sarasota for four years," said Mike Weatherby of Pedego. "I've got a lot of people interested today."
Weatherby had a few of the bikes on display for those interested in taking a ride.
"I think we need fewer vehicles on the road and more bikes," Weatherby said. "Electric bikes are a very legitimate way."
Bud Lane, of Kentucky, came out with his family. He said he enjoyed the day as well as the purpose of the day's festivities.
"We had an awesome time," Lane said. "It's going to end with a little rain but that's part of the environment too."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.