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Seafood Fest organizers criticize Bradenton planning

BRADENTON -- Bradenton City Council members heard a litany of complaints Wednesday from Seafood Fest organizers, who contend the city needs to streamline its planning for big events downtown.

They complained that Bradenton’s handling of the festival is convoluted, complicated and fails to address difficulties that have plagued the event, which draws thousands for food, fun and music every year.

“The message I’d like to get out is, as a volunteer organization, this process is very cumbersome and tedious in terms of trying to coordinate this,” said Derek R. Williams, representing the Hernando De Soto Historical Society, sponsor of the annual festival. Money raised in the festival goes to the society’s foundation, which donates to charity.

Some of the society’s members suggested moving the festival to Palmetto to avoid difficulties they have encountered in Bradenton, Williams told council members.

“We can’t seem to find answers to questions I’m posing today,” Williams said.

Others who have previously complained include the sponsor of last year’s pre-Thanksgiving Day “Turkey Crawl,” who said he experienced a mix-up involving trash pickup; and a local businessman who has sponsored gun shows in Bradenton for 23 years, who described parking arrangements for one of his events as “a terrible mess.”

Society member Vernon DeSear suggested that Bradenton officials consider forming a task force to focus on better event planning and procedures, but he had no takers Wednesday.

The seafood festival, which next year is slated for March 30-April 1, is expected to feature dozens of food booths, ample beverage stands, and live music set along the waterfront. The society wants to shift its location to the more easterly section of downtown, Williams explained.

The event will take place between 10th and 12th streets; 10th Street from Fourth Avenue to Barcarrota Boulevard and Third Avenue West between Ninth and 12th streets, the society’s application to the city said.

Estimated attendance is expected to be about 15,000, it said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031.

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