De Soto Society Blog

Bradenton Herald: “De Soto Historical Society working with Palmetto on 2016 regatta”

PALMETTO — With anxiety levels high among Palmetto elected officials on whether to support the 2016 Bradenton Area Riverwalk Regatta — already approved by Manatee County and the city of Bradenton — the DeSoto Historical Society wants to lend its festival expertise to the city.

City officials and members of the DeSoto group will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Palmetto City Hall to begin discussing what can be done on the north side of the Manatee River to ensure the city shares in the success of a second regatta.

The first regatta reportedly had an $8 million economic impact in Manatee County.

The general consensus among Palmetto officials and businesses is the economic benefit was not equally shared.

“It sure didn’t help Palmetto or north river,” said Vice Mayor Brian Williams.

Regatta organizers acknowledge more must be done in Palmetto.

Integrated Strategic Marketing President Mike Fetchko is already pledging more for the city. ISM is working with DeSoto, which runs an annual seafood festival in Palmetto, for the 2016 regatta to garner the city’s approval, which is needed to ensure the Green Bridge is closed to traffic Feb. 6.

“I think DeSoto is a fine organization that has proven themselves with the city,” said Williams. “We just need to listen to their suggestions. As long as we can have vendors and events on this side of the river to help draw people over here so our businesses are not negatively affected, then that’s my goal.”

Williams joins a unanimous city commission in lobbying the Manatee County Tourist Development Council to support Palmetto as it supported Bradenton. While the TDC’s $175,000 investment went toward a county event, Palmetto officials say the event only benefited one city.

Must not ignore Palmetto

“Hopefully, the TDC keeps an open mind to understand that they can’t support Bradenton businesses and ignore Palmetto businesses,” said Williams.

Williams said his mind is not made up but he’s got a show-me attitude now.

“We aren’t going to be storied to like we were the last time,” he said.

Ray Niecestro, DeSoto Historical Society executive director, expressed confidence Palmetto officials will be able to rest easy following Wednesday’s meeting.

“We’re confident that we will get something fun and exciting going in Palmetto,” said Niecestro. “We are going to present several ideas to the commissioners on how we can program the Palmetto side of the river to make sure it’s fun and engaging. Once we present to the commissioners, we will take those ideas to Palmetto’s business and restaurant leaders that will help them better engage customers.”

Niecestro said the DeSoto group has formed “an excellent partnership with ISM and Mike Fetchko,” and hopes to begin planning the event soon.

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.

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Fostering and facilitating an appreciation of Manatee County’s Spanish - American heritage and cultural alliances through special events, community collaborations and charitable giving Since 1939

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Bradenton, FL 34205
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