$150,000 OF TDC EVENT BUDGET GETS DISTRIBUTED BY KEY LARGO DAC – FANTASY FEST AMONGST NOTABLE SNUBS
Organizers bringing events to the Florida Keys submitted $200,000 in funding requests to the Monroe County Tourist Development Council’s District Advisory Council members representing Key Largo. During an Aug. 3 Zoom meeting, DAC members recommended $115,000 of the available $150,000 be dished out to eight of the 10 events in 2022 that requested funding.
Requests were scored by DAC members based on benefit to the community with heads in beds, dollars spent by visitors and marketing of the Keys worldwide.
One of the events securing funding was the 18th annual Orange Bowl Winter Training and Swim Classic, at $30,000. Set for Dec. 1, 2021 to Jan. 31, 2022 at Jacob’s Aquatic Center, the event brings world class swimmers primarily from Division 1 college teams around the country for training and competition, which is set for Jan. 3, 2022. The average team size is 48, and the average team stay is eight-and-a-half nights.
Key Largo Stone Crab & Seafood Festival received $20,000 for the event that’s set for Jan. 22-23, 2022. Upper Keys Event Inc., a newly formed company, looks to bring back Key Largo’s flagship event. The two-day event will feature not only seafood, but also arts and crafts, cooking demonstrations, fishing clinics, little mermaid contests, eating contests and environmental education, among other activities. Upper Keys Event Inc. is made up of organizers who’ve put on the Key Largo & Islamorada Food & Wine Festival and Key Largo Original Music Festival.
DAC members agreed to provide $15,000 to the REEF Fest, set for Oct. 13-16, 2022, and Key Largo Bridge Run, set for Nov. 13, 2022 at Jewfish Creek Bridge and Rowell’s Waterfront Park.
The Buccaneer Blast Regatta at Rowell’s Park will receive $10,000. Set for Feb. 25-27, 2022, the annual sailing regatta last year brought 47 teams and a little more than 250 kids to the Keys as far as California and New England. The event is a “gala fundraiser,” for the Mark Sorensen Youth Sailing Program, said executive director Rose Lamela.
“We got more boats wanting to participate in the 2022 event,” she said.
A newer paddle challenge to support Everglades restoration received $10,000 in funding. Set for Nov. 18-22, 2022, Florida Bay Forever’s Send It South Challenge will see paddlers go from Flamingo Marina in Everglades National Park to Baker’s Cay Resort in Key Largo. The direction of the paddle mirrors the direction of clean water flow south to raise awareness for Everglades restoration. A virtual paddle held in 2020 due to COVID-19 had about 75 participants. Some 100 paddlers are expected to participate this year.
“There’s a lot of local interest, as we are a paddling community,” said Emma Haydocy, Florida Bay Forever executive director.
Key Largo Brew on the Bay received approval for $10,000. The event hasn’t been seen since 2017, but organizers in the Key Largo Rotary Club are bringing the beer and fun back. The event, set for Jan. 8, 2022, will see a home brew competition with judging and trophies. There will also be plenty of beer tasting and food for event goers.
DAC members approved $10,000 for a boat rally that begins in Miami and ends in Key Largo and Islamorada. Set for June 10-12, 2022, around 100 boats are expected to participate with crews averaging around five.
Fantasy Fest in Key West and Jimmy Johnson’s Championship Fishing Week didn’t get the DAC members’ support for funding. The DAC in Key Largo has dished out $20,000 to Fantasy Fest and $105,000 to the fishing tournament the past five years.
Funding recommendations approved by the DAC will go to the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners for approval.Florida Keys Weekly