Rick Ott just couldn’t bear to see the annual Florida Scallop and Music Festival evaporate.
After Hurricane Nate wiped out the second, and biggest, day of the festival last year, a non-profit that had taken the reins of the event had enough.
After paying bills and vendors for an event that did not take place, there was no money in the bank account and several prominent members had already announced their departure.
The festival was on life support.
Enter Ott, a long-time music producer, and his six-person team from iHeart Radio.
“The selfish side of me, I hate to see festivals cancelled,” Ott said. “I really enjoy the Scallop and Music Festival.
“We love Port St. Joe. We have been coming down here for 15 years and for 13 of those years we have done the music for the festival.”
And, it turned out, Ott had some experience in the festival-revival genre.
In Sopchoppy, he had helped re-energize a Fourth of July festival which was on the verge of being cancelled due to local apathy and lack of resources.
So, Ott set to work, the phone lines buzzing.
He tackled a list of past festival sponsors, gave presentations to local civic organizations and lined up artists.
Steadily, over a span of three months, the outline of the festival took shape, somewhat scaled back, yes, but full of music and vendors.
There is even an altruistic element as a portion of proceeds will go toward the ongoing scallop restoration work in St. Joseph Bay.
A representative from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be on hand to promote and highlight that ongoing work.
“Everybody helped where they could,” Ott said. “We are taking the risk that we’ll get the festival off.”
The stage is located behind the Haughty Heron along Sailor’s Cove Drive and there are 35 vendors lined up and will be surrounding the stage.
The Centennial Bank tent will be out and folks are encouraged to bring their own chairs.
The lineup of music might lack a national name, but it is packed with local favorites.
The Currys will headline Friday night and will be joined by the Bo Spring Band and Old Soul Revival as headliners on Saturday night.
Charlie and Dana Hunt Black will be performing Friday and the Hot Tamales, Baby Gray, Coastal Highway and the Adventures of Annabelle Lyn are among the performers Saturday.
Nashville star Kendall Marvel will be playing during an after-party Saturday.
“We are having people I enjoy listening to and I think other people enjoy also,” Ott said, before adding with a smile, “Because I don’t play as much as I used to, I think one of the reasons I am doing this is because I am living vicariously through these bands.”
The festival will be open 4-10 p.m. ET Friday and 12 noon until 10 p.m. ET Saturday followed by the after-party at the Haughty Heron.
Entry is $10 after 4 p.m.; folks are encouraged to come out and enjoy the arts and crafts and vendors for free 12-4 p.m. ET Saturday.
Music will play throughout the festival hours.
There will also be a cash bar throughout the festival, but due to permitting issues, coolers and pets will are prohibited.
The hope, Ott said, would be a festival that doesn’t lose money and lives to see future years.
In Sopchoppy, the Fourth of July festival Ott helped resuscitate is now embraced and supported by the community and local merchants.
“What we need now is for people to come through the gate,” Ott said. “If we can make this work this year, break even, I would like to see this continue.
“I love the Scallop and Music Festival and I would love to see it continue for several more years.”