MADEIRA BEACH – The City Commission on Oct. 15 passed a lengthy resolution “establishing the city’s commitment and support of the Seafood Festival, reaffirming actions to ensure its long-term success and viability and “recognizing the event as a major economic and tourism driver for the city.”
It was the city’s strongest statement yet in support of the Seafood Festival, coming after a press release by City Manager Jonathan Evans that said the city “will do whatever we can to make sure this event happens each and every year in Madeira Beach.”
The flurry in support comes following an announcement from the John’s Pass Village Association that it would no longer sponsor the event after this year. The reasons cited for the pullout were “costs that have multiplied five times over the past five years” and a lack of financial support from the city.
The association’s announcement said no fees were charged by the city of Madeira Beach prior to 2017. But this year the city’s fees were estimated at $42,000. The city agreed to waive $30,000 in lost parking, leaving $12,000 due.
Also, the announcement charged “the administration and commission delayed approval of the event to the point of it nearly not occurring this year. We can’t risk that loss in the future.”
City Finance Director Walter Pierce said in March the Seafood Festival lost money for the city, and commission members have said events should not cost the city.
But Evans said the resolution, unanimously passed by the commission, “reaffirms the longstanding commitment the city has to assure this event continues into perpetuity.”
Evans spoke of “how important this event is to the city,” and “to make sure it remains here and continues on in Madeira Beach and John’s Pass Village.”
Evans said a commission member will be assigned as a liaison with the John’s Pass Village Association “to work with them to continue the event.”
“There is a lot of common ground and a lot of opportunities to see this event continue to grow and be the premier seafood event here in the state of Florida, and hopefully one day in the country,” Evans said.
Commissioners had little comment on the resolution that expressed a renewed commitment by the city to the Seafood Festival.
“This is a positive resolution,” was Mayor Maggi Black’s only remark.
Commissioner Nancy Hodges said the Seafood Festival is “an award-winning event,” and described a recent top award won by Sonny Flynn, chairperson of the festival.
Commissioner Nancy Oakley said nothing, and Commissioner Weinstein questioned the wording of a phrase in the resolution. Commissioner John Douthirt was absent from the meeting.