The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is one of the most popular and most successful events in the Bradenton area every year, attracting tens of thousands of visitors and raising lots of money for an organization that works to preserve the Cortez Fishing Village and the environmentally essential wetland nearby.
It's been so successful that they don't feel compelled to tamper with its success.
So this year's 34th annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival will be pretty much like all the others -- two days of fresh-from-the-boat seafood, live music from great Bradenton-area bands and tours and displays on local marine life and the commercial fishing industry.
Even the price hasn't changed in years. It's still $3 for adults and free for kids younger than 12.
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This year's festival is set for Saturday and Sunday. It runs from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day.
"We usually estimate the crowd at 20,000 for the weekend," said festival officials John Stevely. "That's about 10,000 a day, dependent on the weather."
This winter's weather has been unusual, with more rain than in most years and some chilly days.
But predictions for this weekend call for nearly ideal weather for an outdoor festival, with sunny skies and highs in the lows 70s.
That could mean even bigger crowds than usual. So the one change in store for this year's festival should be a welcome one.
"We have expanded parking just east of the village," Stevely said.
That parking area is off of Cortez Road, about a five-minute walk from the festival.
If that area is full, the best bet is off-site parking available at G.T Bray park, 5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, or at Coquina Beach. A shuttle bus will take you to the Cortez Fishing Village for $3 round trip.
Festival-goers can enjoy live music, clog dancing, boat rides, marine life exhibits, seafood, a marine life touch tank, a nautical arts and crafts show and tours and displays on local marine life and the commercial fishing industry.
It's the major -- and pretty much only-- annual fundraiser for the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH), a non-profit dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Cortez Fishing Village.
Festival proceeds go toward the purchase and maintenance of 95 acres of mangrove wetlands immediately east of the village -- The FISH Preserve. It's one of the few remaining undeveloped shorelines on Sarasota Bay, Stevely said, and its health is essential to the fishing industry of Cortez.
Details: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 13-14, Cortez Fishing Village. Tickets: $3; children under 12 free. Information: 941-254-4972, cortez-fish.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.