Tons of People + Festival = Good Time

by October 10, 2008 • 11 comments

The parking lot was packed, being filled by a line of cars wrapped all the way up Pier Park Drive next to Palmetto Trace.  The parking attendants looked exhausted from waving their flashlights and talking to drivers at 9 pm.  There were still people pouring in when I left tonight.

Looking at license plates on the way out, every other car was from either Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina.  The draw looked healthy, and so far, without seeing any actual numbers, the attendance looked good.

Between Beach Bouncers, carnival rides/attractions, funnel cakes, and cotton candy, there was plenty to keep the kids busy.  With roaming clowns and people passing out candy, every kid was singing of gum drops and cherry planes.

At the opposite side of the camp, a band rocked the main stage with common covers such as Foxy Lady and Sweet Home Alabama.  Opening for the main act, the growing crowd was being pumped up for .38 Special.

We didn’t get to try any of the endless varieties of food, but I’m sure most, if not all, was good.  Vendors ranged from Beef ‘o Brady’s to Boatyard.  Shopping was abound in plenty with anything from really cool hanging chairs to little wooden figurines just a quick negotiation away from a comfortable place on your mantle.

The party was definitely hoppin tonight, and will continue to entertain thousands tomorrow.  The gates open at 11 am with stilt walkers, balloon artists, face painters, sand sculpting, Hands on Art, live kid’s concerts, Gallagher’s Gymnastics presentations and much, much more.

Full schedule of events for Saturday, October 11th at the Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine & Music Festival

Gates Open – 11a – Marketplace, food, Family Fun Days activities, amusements, all open
Family Fun Days 11a-3p – Stilt Walkers, Balloon Artists, Face Painters, Bouncer Village, Sand Sculpting, Hands on Art by Visual Arts Center, live kids concerts, Gallaghers Gymnastics presentations, and more
Lunch With Sponge Bob – 11:30am-12:30pm – Coca Cola Tent (dining tent) $5 per child up to 12 years old, $8 per person 13+ (includes Pizza & Coca-Cola)
Steve’s Kazoo Krew Band – 11a-12:30pm – Coca Cola Stage (dining tent)
Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience Band – 12:30p-1:30pm – Colonial Bank Stage in KIDS VILLAGE
Half Price Temp Tattoos @ Tat Shack – 12:30p-1:30pm – KIDS VILLAGE
Sand Sculpting for Kids with master Sand Sculptor Mark Flynn – 1:30-2:30p – KIDS VILLAGE
On-Call Jazz Band – 1:30pm-4pm – Coca-Cola Stage (dining tent)
Gallagher’s Gymnastics Team performance – 2:30pm – Colonial Bank Stage in KIDS VILLAGE
Chef Exhibition – Chef of Reggae J’s – 3pm – Chef & Wine Tent
Grand Wine Tastings – 4p-6p – Wine Garden @ Chef & Wine Tent
De Lions of Jah Reggae Band – 4p-6:30pm – Clear Channel Stage (mainstage)
Chef Exhibtion – Chef Conrad of Boatyard – 4pm – Chef & Wine Tent
Chef Exhibition – Chef Paul of Firefly – 5pm – Chef & Wine Tent
Panhandle Star Competition Top 5 finalists – 6:30pm-7:30pm – Clear Channel Stage (mainstage)
Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience – 7:30p-8:45pm – Clear Channel Stage (mainstage)
Blues Traveler – 9pm-11pm – Clear Channel Stage (mainstage)

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1 JamesT October 11, 2008 at 8:47 am

You’re kidding right? Almost every car in the parking lot had a Bay County Plate and there was maybe 2,000 people at what was more like a carnival than a music & wine festival. The kids section was great and I am sure all the local kids had fun. Almost my daughter’s school was there playing but there were not so many tourists like you make it sound.

You should really start being more honest with your writing and not try to cater to your friends on the TDC.


2 Jason Koertge October 11, 2008 at 10:00 am

Ok, I’m sorry, I should clarify. I didn’t spend half the night counting every car in the parking area surveying where the plates were from, but the 20 or so that I did look at on the way back to MY car with my family were as described above. This is by no means a scientific method of tourism accounting – just an observation. I’m certain this festival is not the tourist draw we’d all like it to be.

I think it is interesting that you should mention that I should start being “honest with [my] writing and not try to cater to [my] friends at the TDC”, when if you actually READ pcbdaily, you’d very well know that much of my writing and the writing of our contributing authors is anything but complimentary of the TDC. We have been and will continue to be VERY critical of the TDC, its decisions, and its actions as a public council.


3 jamnolfin October 11, 2008 at 10:53 am

There was quite alot of out of towners. We stood right in front for 38 special. We had vip back stage passes with free beer and they just kept bringing us free can Coors Light. I had a blast, the band was great. I didnt realize how many hits 38 special had. The Van Zant boys are just awesome song writers, all 3 of them.


4 Nikki Lindsey October 11, 2008 at 7:06 pm

I thought Friday night at the festival was really fun. All of the seafood I tried was excellent. I particularly liked the Back Porch’s grilled shrimp and Reggae J’s Reggae Rolls. I would say about half the people I talked to were from out of town. I met people from Atlanta, Montgomery, Tallahassee, and Dothan. This is the first year with the new name, so we should allow for a bit of a learning curve, especially with current condition of the economy. I think that a lower admission price would increase attendance next year. I would also like to see more venders next year. I missed some of my favorite local seafood restaurants like Saltwater Grill, Calypso’s, Bonefish Grill, Montego Bay and Pompano’s.


5 Lori October 12, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Sounds like a good time. But maybe next year we’ll get to attend! Well, times like these I live vicariously through your reports. So for that, thanks! I would have love to have seen Blues Traveler as well as the Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, (of course I’ve had the good fortune of seeing them at Silver Dollar City). Hope we get to see you the end of the month.


6 Kirk Lancaster October 12, 2008 at 9:16 pm

According to local media reports, the PCBSWMF counted guests and recorded zip codes. Hopefully they will let us know their exact numbers and no one will need to guesstimate attendance figures.

There seemed to be a great crowd at the beach today (especially Pier Park!); hopefully many tourists were here as a result of the TDC’s $65K investment in the PCBSWMF.


7 Jason Koertge October 12, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Talking to Jack yesterday, he was telling me that every attendee that came through the gate had to have a bar-coded ticket that was scanned. I’m not sure of the information taken of the ticket purchasers, but I’m sure geographic information was collected.

He assured me that they would have accurate numbers as to the attendance. A group that manages ticket sales and admission was hired and onsite to manage the whole process.

I’m pretty confident the event as a whole was successful, it seemed like the turnout was great, and a lot of people were having a great time.


8 Jan October 13, 2008 at 10:42 pm

We arrived just before 3pm on Sunday and almost left when we found, surprisingly, that the ticket prices were $20. We also asked if they had a Military discount, but were told they did not – that might have been an idea to attract more local families. We did buy tickets, because we had guests from out of town with us who really wanted to go in. We were never asked for our postcode at any point.

I also thought the food and drink prices were too high – $3.00 for a bottle of water!!! We even had to pay to use the bouncy houses for the kids, although $5 for an all day pass was great value, I just imagined things like that would be free with the high price of the tickets.

Griping aside, we did have a great time. Our toddler had a blast and fell asleep exhausted on the way home. I’m just not convinced we would go again next year if they keep the entry cost the same.

By the way did they really charge people $5 to park earlier in the weekend too?


9 John October 14, 2008 at 7:29 am

It would be nice to know
how folks who independently
rent condos and houses can
benfit from this stuff with
some occupancy…


10 Lori October 14, 2008 at 6:06 pm

I would echo some sentiments here for lower/fairer prices, but I don’t know how it works. As a condo owner myself, I would possibly market a special during this time, especially if I had a vacancy to till, by offering discount, or free tickets to the event, or something along those lines. I have run specials before with certain offerings, and have no problem renting out a dead week otherwise. It’s a sacrifice of some of the $, but it’s better than having no renters at all! My suggestion is basically this, if you have some off-times of the year to rent, and can’t seem to get those vacancies filled, try checking out for upcoming events and offer gift certificates, coupons, freebies to those events to catch the attention of low season vacationers. They will love you for it and you’ll fill those empty weeks. Good luck!


11 Lori October 14, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Oh my poor fingers! In the above comment, I meant to say, “…if I had a vacancy to FILL,…”! LOL! Not “till”. Sheesh, sorry! HAHA!