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Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage plans, readies 35th commercial fishing festival

The Cortez festival that began in 1983 with hundreds of attendees will celebrate its 35th year with an expected two-day attendance of 20,000.

The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival will be held Feb. 18-19 in the same location as recent fests — the area surrounding the 119th Street fishing docks.

Since the early 1990s, the festival has been sponsored by the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage.

At a Jan. 2 meeting, FISH board members spoke of pulling permits, lining up security and trying to build on the event’s recent successes. Vice president Jane von Hahmann predicted the numbers based on the growing festival.

Themed “Fishing for the Future,” the lineup of music, food and exhibits — many geared to educate the public about commercial fishing — are expected to crowd the waterfront.