Bradenton Regatta

Excitement continues to escalate for Feb. 7 Bradenton Area Riverwalk Regatta

MANATEE -- With even more announcements planned at Tuesday's news conference at Pier 22, excitement continues to build for the Feb. 7 Bradenton Area Riverwalk Regatta along the shores of Bradenton and Palmetto.

The powerboat regatta's original dates were Feb. 6-7, which included plans for a Christian-music concert in Palmetto's Sutton Park, but after initial talks failed to garner a headline act, the lone Friday-night event has been officially pulled from the schedule leaving that Saturday as a day packed with events.

David Gustafson, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority executive director, said the concert cancellation is a lesson learned in planning a first-year major event.

"We aren't going to be perfect in year one, but we are trying to get as close to perfect as we can," said Gustafson. "What isn't perfect this year is something we will fix next year."

The Friday cancellation is one of the few snags organizers have hit in planning an event expected to draw 100,000 people to the Manatee River.

"We are extremely excited and once those environmental permits were received and sent up north, there has been a wave of excitement taking place," said Gustafson, who noted that those details will be addressed at Tuesday's news conference. However, he said it involves the possibility of the main Formula 2 racing event having many more competitors than the initial dozen who signed up for the series' first race of the season.

"It's the first race of the season and these guys have been pent up all winter polishing their boats and getting ready to race again," said Gustafson. "Once those

permits went north, there are a lot more teams that are wanting to come to Bradenton."

The final details of vendor locations, parking opportunities and other important little matter that will lead to a successful event are winding down.

"We want this event to be good for the community and I want the community to understand just how many people are working hard every day to bring them a free, fun, family friendly event," said Gustafson.

A full schedule of events, complete with a parking map will be available at bradentonarearegatta.com Jan. 20, including event information such as the 4 a.m.-11 p.m. closure of the Green Bridge on Feb. 7.

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.

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