Organizer of Giving Hunger the Blues asks for donations after all-day rain keeps eventgoers away.
Peter Anderson was on track to put on his biggest event yet, but storm season had a surprise for Sarasota.
The Giving Hunger the Blues chairman and producer had every expectation of surpassing at least 5,000 people in attendance. He’d booked national headliners, organized 300 volunteers and positioned food vendors throughout the festival.
“Everything was in place,” he said. “The community was behind us … We felt very strongly that we were positioned to put on a record-breaking event.”
But the weather had other plans.
“We happened to catch a tropical depression the day of the event,” Anderson said. “Unlike other years where we have had intermittent rain that has impacted the event briefly, this was relentless and consistent rain that lasted all day.”
The event drew but a fraction of Anderson’s early projections. Just under 1,000 came out for the music festival Oct. 28 at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
“Suffice it to say we will barely break even,” Anderson said. “And break even is not what our goal was for producing this event.”
Giving Hunger the Blues is an annual fundraiser for the Mayors Feed the Hungry program, a local initiative to mitigate food insecurity in the Sarasota area.
Anderson said he had hoped to raise $25,000 during 2017 — a goal he is still hoping to accomplish.
He is asking the community to donate to the event’s crowdfunding campaign to honor the commitment to the Mayors Feed the Hungry program.
Despite the setback, Anderson said he is looking forward to next year’s event. Several food vendors and artists have offered their services for free in light of the 2017 shortfall.
“There has been a very, very generous outpouring already in support of the event and the anticipation of next year’s event,” Anderson said. “We are more driven for next year’s event than ever because we are anxious for the community to see what we had planned this year.”