Sarasota Bay: More than Just a Instagram-Worthy Picture
The fun-filled Sarasota Bay Water Festival helps Randy Moore showcase how important the body of water is to the local area.
Seventeen years ago, San Diego native Randy Moore chose to live in Sarasota due to its proximity and easy access to various bodies of water. “That’s the number-one reason that brought me here,” says the avid kayaker and boater. “No water, no Randy.”
So it’s not surprising that he conceived of the Sarasota Bay Water Festival, which began in 2012 and takes place this year on November 1 at City Island’s Ken Thompson Park. The idea was born when Moore, owner of Triple 3 Marketing, took on the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program as a client.
“Why do a water festival?” asks Moore. “Because there wasn’t one. And there is nothing I could think of that would be worth celebrating more.”
Moore and the other folks behind the festival now have the numbers to back up that statement, thanks to a recent two-year economic valuation study of Sarasota Bay. It estimates the value of the bay to be more than $11.8 billion and found that it has an impact on about 21,000 local jobs.
“Minus out the ecosystem called Sarasota Bay, and Sarasota would be a drive-past city,” says Moore. “It’s an extraordinary underpinning and it’s a major economic driver. What’s startling is few people know it.”
The free festival aims to change that fact, not by lecturing attendees but by showing them firsthand—and in a fun way—the beauty and value of the bay. Clinics and demonstrations will teach people about water-based recreational activities like fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and scuba diving. Legendary Florida photographer Clyde Butcher will share the secrets behind some of his stunning nature shots, and other artists and photographers will also display creations inspired by their watery environs. There’ll be live music, food trucks, and all kinds of experts on hand to provide information about everything from power boats and environmental education to stormwater runoff and wildlife protection.
“A well-informed local public is the best investment, long term, for thoughtful bay stewardship,” says Moore. “And the model we’re using is: The best way to learn is to have fun. This day is simply about having fun.” That fun continues into the evening with a new after-party at Circus City Architectural Salvage featuring live music and a fashion show of garments made from discarded plastic.
Like-minded local businesses and organizations have willing jumped on board to support the festival since its inception, with about three dozen signed on to sponsor this year’s event, including the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Cannons Marina, SUP Sarasota, Nature’s Academy, and the Freedom Boat Club (which will be running a free water taxi between the event and Marina Jack).
“It’s about bringing those various organizations together and letting the broader public see the different ways that we are all part of the water matrix,” says Moore. “We look for sponsors that have a vested interest in not only the health and vitality of the bay but also its future.”
For more information on the Sarasota Bay Water Festival, visit sarasotabaywaterfestival.com