Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kevin Cooper recently donned a white tuxedo to pose as Mr. Rourke for a poster advertising a Nov. 2 chamber event.
Like Rourke’s role on the classic television show, “Fantasy Island,” Cooper is “master of ceremonies” for Sandfest 2012, which will be held under the main pavilion on Siesta Key public beach from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 2. The chamber hosts the event to avoid raising membership dues, and this year there will be a silent auction, a DJ, percussionists and possibly a spit for a roasted pig to fit the “Fantasy Island” theme.
The event is just one of the many the Siesta business community is organizing this fall, which means that despite a dip in customer volume, proprietors are likely not slowing down.
Sandfest is expected to draw between 200 and 300 attendees, Cooper said, and tickets start at $25. It was first held in 1988, after the Woodhole Oceanographic Institute named Siesta sand “ the finest, whitest sand in the world” during the Great International White Sand Beach Challenge. Originally a black-tie event, Sandfest was held at the Summerhouse Restaurant until it closed in the late 1990s, Cooper said.
The Nov. 24 Light Up the Village Holiday Parade and celebration attracts nearly five times the amount of attendance as Sandfest, and the Siesta Key Crystal Classic SandSculpting competition, which runs from Nov. 8 through Nov. 12, attracts nearly 100 times the turnout. Coordinators of both events updated members of the Siesta Key Village Association during an Oct. 3 meeting, with Sarasota County Administrator Randall Reid in the audience.
“This parade is going to be bigger than ever,” said SKVA President Russell Matthes. The Pine View Jazz Band will be cranking out tunes near the Village Café, and this year people will have a chance to guess who is behind Santa Claus’ beard.
Maria Bankemper, co-chair of the committee behind the Crystal Classic, said the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office approved the bus route circling from Phillippi Estate onto Siesta Key. Bus operators will use their discretion on whether to pull into the public beach parking lot for unloading, and if traffic is too tight they will drop off attendees on Beach Road.
Crystal Classic organizers will offer a competitive twist to posters for the event this year, Cooper said. The chamber will award a framed, autographed copy of the poster to whomever provides the selected winning name for the artwork by Brendan Coudal.