■ STAFF REPORT
In collaboration with the 2019 World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, Carroll Swayze presents the 8th Annual Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival on June 7 and 8.
It’s spring in Florida, tarpon season is here and it’s time for Boca Grande Pass to fill with boats and anglers vying for a chance to fish for one of the most sought-after sport fish on the planet. Known worldwide as tarpon or the Silver King, the fish is locally referred to as The Big Sardine, a term made famous back in 1979 by the Smoked Mullet Band when Michael Van Norman and Ronnie Walshaw wrote the song about tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass.
Excitement is building for the 37th Annual World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, a long-standing island tradition and the 2019 Tarpon Festival which is held each year in beautiful downtown Boca Grande to celebrate the return of the fish to Boca Grande Pass and the beginning of tarpon season. This year’s festival will take place on Friday, June 7 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the island is preparing for the biggest street party of the year.
The Annual Tarpon Festival celebrates tarpon fishing and the Annual World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament. The festival culminates in a world-class art show – The Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival. Local Artist Carroll Swayze along with Wesley Locke, director of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, both work very hard together to produce this amazing event each year.
“I am very proud to present this year’s Boca Grande Invitational,” said Swayze. “This is our eighth annual show, and every year I think the artwork gets better and better. This is a world-class fishing event, and bringing world-class art to Boca Grande is my goal. I work diligently to attract amazing marine and wildlife artists from across the country. I’m very excited about the collection of fine art and crafts that I have gathered for this year’s show. The Art Festival will have something for everyone – all medias are represented from oils and acrylics to sculpture, glass and fine jewelry. I know my selections are sure to please the crowd.”
The World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, in its 37th year, is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, June 6 and 7. Sponsored by the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, this tournament attracts anglers from all over the world who travel to Southwest Florida to compete for thousands of dollar and the chance to jump a giant tarpon. Sport fishing, education and conservation of the fishery combine to make this one of the most notable fishing tournaments in the country. With 30 boats expected to fish the tournament, the prizes range from large cash purses to coolers to fine jewelry … but everyone has their eye on the coveted Champion WRTT Tarpon trophy.
The weeklong schedule of events starts on Monday, June 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. when Grande Aire Services will present The Grande Tradition Event at the Crowninshield Community House. On Tuesday, June 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce will present the 2019 World’s Richest Sponsor Reception at the Eagle Grille. This is a private event for sponsors of the tournament only.
On Wednesday, June 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. The Gasparilla Inn & Club will present the 2019 World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament Captain’s Party at the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club. This is a private event for all captains and their anglers to mix and mingle and learn all the rules for fishing in the tournament.
On Thursday, June 6 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Boca Grande Marina/ Miller’s Dockside/ Eagle Grille will present Day 1 of the Official 37th Annual World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament in Boca Grande Pass, and action continues on Friday, June 7 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. for the final day of the tournament. The awards ceremony for the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament will be held on Friday evening, June 7 after the tournament, then the street party continues with the Swinging Bridge on the stage until 10 p.m.
On Friday, June 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the 8th Annual Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival will be held on Park Avenue & 4th Street continuing Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Tarpon Festival is free and open to the public. There will be live music all day and into the evening, fishing, conservation and community business vendors, local food booths providing delicious food and a beer and wine café set up near the stage for thirsty festival goers
The Street Party begins on Friday afternoon at noon with live music by Wyatt Locke, Kenny Rose, Marty Moss and The Swinging Bridge on the 3rd Street Stage throughout the day. The Art Festival and Street Party continues Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with live music all day.
Everyone is welcome so bring your friends and family to Boca Grande for the Annual Tarpon Festival on Friday & Saturday, June 7-8 for a day of art, fishing and fun in a beautiful setting. The festival is free and there will be plenty of parking available.
For more information about the Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival call Carroll Swayze at (941) 266-6434. For more information about the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament please visit the website at worldsrichesttarpon.com or contact Wesley Locke at the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce at (941) 964-0568.