Easily one of the most exciting times of the year for Islanders both permanent and temporary, Bayfest is finally here again. Happening Friday & Saturday, October 19th and 20th, this free event is put on by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce on Pine Avenue in the city of Anna Maria.
The entire event is an all-encompassing sensory experience. Before you even get to Pine, you see groups of people walking around, hear all kinds of different music, and are greeted by an enticing smell…
As you begin your walk down Pine Avenue, you are greeted by a parade of classic cars, including hotrods such as the 1936 Packard 120-B, all the way up to the slick 2008 Corvette. About halfway down the walk of classic cars, you are hit by a smell; or rather, a lot of smells. At this point, you begin to salivate over the wide variety of offerings from the best restaurants the Island has to show, such as The Sandbar, The Feast, and The Waterfront. But, that portion of your adventure is still a good bit away; there are other treasures for you to uncover first.
The great advantage of hosting an event like this on the “main street” of the city of Anna Maria is that there are plenty of businesses willing to participate in this Island style carnival. You are quickly dropped into the crowd, browsing arts & crafts, high end retail booths, and more; pretty much anything a savvy shopper could dream of.
After you have stocked up on everything from candles and jewelry to T-shirts and exotic coffee, you realize your little ones are getting restless… Just then, you look up and see the light at the end of the tunnel; Kidfest, the AWESOME kid’s area, featuring multiple bounce houses, a rock climbing wall, and more! Surely, their complaints of boredom after your shopping spree will be squelched once their strapped in to one of the fun rides in this mini-fair! After they run around a little bit, you are reminded that you have all worked up a serious appetite, and could personally probably use a drink; finally, you head over to the food court and begin browsing.
You grab yourself a rum runner (and a couple soda’s for the kids, of course) and head over to the main stage to enjoy some live music. On Friday, your journey is guided by Scott Prichard and his band, Scott’s Garage, from 5PM to 6PM. Shortly after, you meet Koko Ray & the Soul Providers, who entertain until 8PM, as the sun begins to set. The closing act, The Billy Rice Band, is a very talented all-star outfit. At 10 o’clock, when they finish, you head grab one last drink and head home for the evening, ready to come back again on Saturday to see the next lineup.
Changing it up on Saturday, prominent area DJ Chris Grumley starts the party at 10 AM. The first band up at 10:30 is Jimi Gee’s Junior All Stars band, a group of talented kids who have been together for about a year. They jam until 12:00 noon, and after a short intermission, you are once again greeted by Scott’s Garage from 12:30 until 2:30. Beginning at 3:00 PM, The Human Condition graces the main stage, jamming on some classics by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Ben Harper, and more. Their set goes until 5 PM, when you are greeted by a new quintet known as Shotgun Justice!, who will bedelivering their own brand of musical justice from 5:30 until 7:30. After one final intermission, at 8 o’clock until 10 o’clock, Dr. Dave and his band come out to play their own brand of rock n’ roll they call CountryGrassRock. If you are suddenly swept up by the need to dance, don’t panic; this is normal.
For more information on the 12th Annual Bayfest and other Anna Maria Island events, please visit http://www.annamariaislandchamber.org/IslandEvents.aspx