top of page

anna maria island





  • Writer's pictureNancy McAleer

Cortez Fishing Festival

Cortez Fishing Festival 2019

Cortez Fishing Festival, Florida

Cortez is one of the oldest fishing villages in North America, and hosts one of the most authentic Fishing Festivals around. Walking through the village you can taste the salt air and admire the small cottages with fishing boats and nets in the yards. Along Sarasota Bay you'll find a fish cannery and fish houses where the locals sell their fresh catches of the day. The villagers are equally special, priding themselves on living life authentically, with a focus on the simple pleasures that a small community offers. Sitting on porches, enjoying freshly caught dinners, great music and laughter. It's the real deal!

(photo credit: Rick Schwartz)

Cortez's first festival was held in 1981 and attracted 500 visitors. The festival has become so popular that it now attracts 18,000 visitors and is spread over two days. Not bad for a little 5 square mile village with a population of 4, 500.

Cortez Fishing Village Map

Photo Credit:

Everything You Need to Know about the Cortez Fishing Festival

The Cortez Fishing Festival is held in the village of Cortez, just across the Cortez bridge from Anna Maria Island. We've put together a mini Insider's Guide with what you need to know, how to get there and what to expect.

Jane vonHahmann, F.I.S.H. - Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage board member, tells us about the Festival.

"Cortez is the OLDEST WORKING fishing village on the West Coast of Florida. Our homes are still occupied by 5th and 6th generation Cortezians, who have lived here over 125 years. I am a 42 year resident of Cortez, my husband and I are definitely still considered 'newbies'. The Village is all about preservation. Preservation of our history, our maritime culture, the commercial fishing industry and preserving the environment on which the industry depends, our shorelines, mangroves, sea grasses and other coastal estuarine systems. This is precisely why the 93 acre F.I.S.H. Preserve was purchased back in 1999. Cortez is a piece of old Florida that simply wants to remain a piece of OLD FLORIDA!"

Cortez Fishing Village Shack, Florida

Photo Credit: psyberartist

The Fishing Festival first and foremost is a showcase of fish and seafood delicacies. Dishes like fried grouper, shrimp, clams, calamari and lots of other choices from the 25 food vendors bringing yummy seafood to your plate. There are also land lover choices too like jerk chicken, bar-b-que, greek salads and gyros. Is your mouth watering yet? With a backdrop of great live music, coastal arts and crafts, children's activities, educational environmental exhibits, it's sure to be a fantastic experience. Did we mention there would be beer?

Fried Fish Dinner at the Cortez Fishing Festival

Photo Credit: Florida Sea Grant

Insider Tip: Jane says to try the Cortez Hotdog. A beautiful piece of fried mullett on a hot dog bun with a secret tarter sauce and a side of crispy cole slaw.

Chicken and Shrimp Shish Kabobs at the Cortez Fishing Festival

Photo Credit: Florida Sea Grant


  • Saturday, February 16, 2019 from 10 am - 6 pm

  • Sunday, February 17, 2016 from 10:30 am - 6 pm


  • Adult admission is $4.00

  • Children under 12 yrs old, admission is free

  • Visits to the FISH Boatworks, Cortez Cultural Center and The Florida Maritime Museum is free


  • Parking area is east of the Cortez village, off of Cortez Road. (Get there early or later in the day because it tends to fill up quickly)

  • There is also a shuttle bus from Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island, as well as at Bradenton's G.T. Bray Park located at 5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, 34209. Bus tickets are $1.50 one-way or $3.00 round trip.

  • You may find parking in some of the local's parking lots nearby but again, get there early as parking spaces are limited.

Cortez, Florida Google Map


The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is organized entirely by volunteers from the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (F.I.S.H.). This is an amazing organization that regularly hosts boat building, restoration and repair services on wood and fiberglass boats. You can find out more about their organization and "The Boatworks" by CLICKING HERE.

Music Schedule Line Up: Saturday February 16th

10:00 - 11:00 am Shanty Singers

11:30 - 1:00 pm Doug Demming

1:00 - 1:30 pm Awards and Introductions

2:00 - 4:00 pm Eric Von Band

4:30 - 6:00 pm Koto Ray Show

Sunday February 17th

10:30 - 12:00 am Soupy Davis and his Band

12.30 - 2:00 pm Ted Stevens & the Doo Shots

2:30 - 4:00 pm Jason Haram

4:30 - 6:00 pm Karen and Jimmy Band

Sunday Afternoon On the Bratton Store Porch

1:00 - 5:00 pm Eric Von Don’t miss 'Dock Talks' by Florida Sea Grant representatives. They will take festival attendees on a tour through the Cortez Bait & Seafood Fish-house. Owned and operated by Jonny Banyas who is a 5th generation Cortezian. The talks take place along the scenic waterfront and is a great opportunity to learn about the commercial fishing industry environment, specifically the 93 acre FISH Preserve which is located just east of the Festival.

Cortez Fishing Festival Signs, Florida

Photo Credit: Florida Sea Grant

Insider Tip

Travelling from Anna Maria Island, you may want to consider avoiding trafffic and looking for parking by using the REMOTE PARKING AREA. Located at main entrance to Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island off of Gulf Drive, south of Bradenton Beach. There will be a free trolley service running to the Cortez Festival.

Travelling from Bradenton, you will find the REMOTE PARKING AREA located at G. T. Bray Park, 5502 - 33rd Ave. Dr W., Bradenton. There will be a bus service running to the Cortez Festival.

Don't leave without

  • Don't leave without a Cortez fishing festival t-shirt! A new design each year which reflects the true Cortez fishing heritage.

Cortez Fishing Festival Logo

Where to stay

Didn't get a chance to visit during the Cortez Fishing Festival but desperately want to come? Book next year's accommodations at Anna Maria Island Home Rental. Our luxurious waterfront properties are perfect for families and groups who love to experience the true beach life as an islander. Boasting backyard beaches, hammocks, tiki huts, saunas, heated pools and hot tubs, outdoor bars, boat docks and more we are your best option for vacation rentals. Click below to browse our properties.

Book Now Button - Anna Maria Island Home Rental

Book Anna Maria Island Vacation Rentals

Feel free to share this article on your Facebook, Pinterest and more, Just press the buttons below.

Anna Maria Island Home Rental Vacation Rentals


140 views0 comments





Sign up for our newsletter

  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • YouTube Social  Icon

Have a question or want to collaborate? Contact me for further information. 


Some links on Anna Maria Island Beach Life may be affiliate links. For my full disclosure and privacy policy please click here.


Feel free to PIN any image from Anna Maria Island Beach Life Blog or Anna Maria Island Home Rental. 

Do not repurpose, repost, or redistribute articles (partial or fully) without written permission. 

If you would like to feature my work, you may share 1 photo from a post if it is clearly linked back to my original post, for the sole purpose of featuring my Blog or Vacation Rentals. 

DO NOT USE my articles and RSS feeds in their entirety as your own. All photos and posts are copyright protected. 

bottom of page