The road back from Hurricane Nate continues for the Florida Scallop, Music and Arts Festival with a little help from some friends.
And two years since Nate wiped out the festival and the bank account of a non-profit operating it, the festival returns to George Core Park with a packed musical line-up and vendors galore.
The festival will run Aug. 30 through Sept. 1, the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend, with a line-up of musical acts from around North Florida.
“I was hesitant to do it again and a year after (Hurricane Michael),” said Rick Ott, who organized something of a mini-festival behind the Haughty Heron last year.
“But I talked to some people and there was a feeling it would be a positive thing to keep some things, some events, going.”
As sponsors were coming on board, Ott got on the phone to the many artists he has worked with over the decades, twisting some arms maybe, but primarily relying on soft spots in hearts for Port St. Joe and the area.
“All of those people (performing) are from North Florida,” Ott said. “I started calling people up telling them we didn’t have much of a budget; well, actually there was no budget.”
The problem, of course, was Nate.
Nate forced the cancellation of the festival’s main day, Saturday, in 2017 and in turn obliterated the bank account of the non-profit that had taken over operations of the festival.
The bank account was drained paying off vendors, artists and other expenses and the non-profit announced it could not go forward.
At the time, the festival seemed to be heading to extinction before Ott stepped up last year with his slimmed-down version.
So, with no money, Ott had taken a different approach this year.
“I just asked them if they would like to volunteer a set and if we got some gate, they could get their share, and that would be great,” Ott said. “No one is guaranteed any money. They are just donating their time.
“They all wanted to help out, every one, because they said this area has always been so good to them and they wanted to give something back.”
The names of the musical acts, from local high school senior Zach McFarland and the band Divided House, all from Gulf County, to Baby Gray, Southern Flood, Coastal Highway, are all largely familiar to local audiences.
Music will begin shortly after gates open each day.
In addition to the music, the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce took on filling the park with vendors and Chamber Director Guerry Magidson said activity has been brisk.
“Things are going well,” he said of the scheduled turnout of arts, crafts and food vendors. “There seems to be a good amount of vendor activity.”
Another positive, at least to Ott, is the likelihood that the event will take place in the midst of a successful scallop season, which 2019 is shaping up to be.
And the season is scheduled to continue into mid-September, unlike the past three years which have been condensed or shortened due to a variety of environmental factors.
“I wanted to ensure we had it during scallop season,” Ott said of the move back to the Labor Day weekend; the festival wiped out by Nate and last year’s mini-festival were each held in October.
“Last year we thought we were and then we weren’t (after the season was closed several days early due to red tide),” Ott continued.
Gates to the festival will open at 4 p.m. ET Friday, Aug. 30; 2 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 31; and 1 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 1.
The cost of entry is $10 on Friday and Saturday, $5 on Sunday.
Bring a chair, but please, no coolers.
Sponsors of the event include the Port Inn, Haughty Heron, Conexion Media Group, Oyster Radio, Centennial Bank, Port Fine Wine and Spirits, Blast on the Bay, Tyndall Federal Credit Union and Capital City Bank.
For more information visit scallopfestfl.org.