The event formerly known as the West Palm Beach Seafood Festival is moving to Royal Palm Beach’s Commons Park.
The logistical challenges of hosting a large, one-day event in a bustling downtown were cited by organizers as the reason for the decision.
It is the second large festival to move west seeking more room. Bacon and Bourbon Fest, made its first appearance in Wellington last month.
The Seafood Festival, which will be May 19-20, had been a one-day event along Flagler Drive at the West Palm Beach Waterfront for three years. The venue is a “beautiful, beautiful spot,” but the city only lets a small number of events schedule for multiple days each year, said Kathy Gilbert, owner of POTTC Events, which organizes the festival.
And the Seafood Festival needed to grow. “It’s what the festival needed to do,” Gilbert said of the move. “For us, it means bringing in more quality to the event.”
This won’t be Gilbert’s first time working with Royal Palm Beach. She and her team are a mainstay of village events, assisting with the Sunday green market, Winter Fest, West Fest, Fall Fest and the Fourth of July celebration.
Plus, it’s close to home for The Acreage resident.
“Living here in the area, it’s nice to be able to produce this event in my hometown,” she said.
Commons Park offers practical benefits as well — including parking. “What we’d be looking at downtown is more difficult parking,” Gilbert said, adding that people had to pay to park in the city’s garages. “It puts money back in the pockets of our patrons so they can spend that with our vendors.”
The Seafood Festival joins the Bacon and Bourbon Fest in moving to the western communities in search of more space and attendee-friendly logistics.
The Bacon and Bourbon Fest “went really well” in its first year, which stretched over three days at the Wellington Community Center and surrounding area, said organizer Nancy Stewart-Franczak with Festival Management Group.
The Bacon and Bourbon Fest left Delray Beach’s Old School Square in 2016 after that city changed its special events policy to require organizers cover the full cost of city services instead of the 40 percent previously required. After canceling the 2017 event, Festival Management Group proposed a partnership with Wellington for this year’s festival.
That partnership proved a huge benefit as the festival kicked off at a new home with a new demographic — and new challenges, Stewart-Franczak said.
“We had to do it in a location where there’s no parking, so we had the expense of doing shuttle buses,” she said. People parked at the Mall at Wellington Green and were ferried to and from the festival.
Another challenge: Stewart-Franczak’s group had never done an event with free admission, but as part of the partnership with Wellington, they had to adapt.
From crowd photos Stewart-Franczak put the total number of Bacon and Bourbon attendees at 15,000. The 2016 event brought 3,000 people to Delray, but that number was limited by the city. “It’s not an apples to apples comparison,” she said.
Bacon and Bourbon’s dates tentatively are set for the amphitheater at the end of March 2019. “It’s encouraging moving forward,” she added.
The event also had an added benefit to Wellington: Some fans of the festival from Delray Beach got their first look at the village.
“The people that did come to Wellington, they were like, ‘Wow, it’s really beautiful. I’ve never been here,’” Stewart-Franczak said.
IF YOU GO
What: Royal Palm Beach Seafood Festival
Where: Commons Park, 11600 Poinciana Blvd., Royal Palm Beach
When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 19 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 20
Entertainment: Bands including Jimmy Buffett tribute the Caribbean Chillers, Foreigner tribute 4NR2 and Bad Company tribute Bad Inc.; Caribbean, calypso, reggae, pop and blues live acts; kids fun zone with bounce houses; pirates, mermaids and a pirate ship
Shopping: Nautical-themed items including home decor, jewelry, clothing and arts and crafts
Food: Lobster, shrimp, oysters, crabs, calamari, conch, lobster mac and cheese, crab cakes, mahi, raw bar with oysters and ceviche, and non-seafood offerings