OUR POSITION: Last weekend’s Waterfest and Punta Gorda Wine and Jazz Festival — two of the area’s biggest annual events — brought all sorts of accolades and good publicity for our neck of the woods.

They love us.

Really, they do.

The boat racers and the visitors who enjoyed watching the speeding crafts race around a challenging track had nothing but praise for Englewood and Charlotte County. And the weather wasn’t even that great.

Same for the Punta Gorda Wine and Jazz Festival this past weekend. The first two days of the four-day event, Wednesday and Thursday, were sold out. And Friday and Saturday’s shows drew great crowds despite some confusion about if the shows were indoors or outdoors — causing some concerns because of the rain. Still, crowds showed up in force to applaud another successful venture sponsored by the Punta Gorda Chamber or Commerce.

John Wright, president of the chamber, said jazz lovers from all over the U.S. and Florida attended.

Even bigger crowds showed up at Englewood Beach this past weekend for the Waterfest and its power boat racing. The family friendly event drew thousands. It was encouraging to see the crowds return despite some showers and the need to park and catch a bus to the beach.

What was even better was the number of people from out of the area who showed up and the enthusiasm for the event.

Mila Osypian, 7, and her sister Mila, 10, were visiting from Orlando and told the Daily Sun how much they enjoyed the event and their visit to Englewood.

“This is the only place I would move to,” said their mom Rowina. “This is such a family orientated town. We like it here. We like the boat races and Englewood Beach is so pretty.”

Organizers and volunteers said the event was a big success.

“I was president of the chamber of commerce when the first endeavor to bring offshore racing back to our area did not go so handsomely,” said Ken Stead, the Marina’s general manager. “But several of our board members thought it would be a perfect fit for Englewood, so we went to work ... Englewood embraced the event, the county has embraced the event, and it brings a huge economic impact to the area.

“Each of these events brings in over $5 million in economic impact and that’s huge for Englewood,” Stead told the Daily Sun in a story earlier this week.

Doug Izzo, Englewood Chamber of Commerce executive director estimated that 30,000 people showed up for the three days of racing and events.

“It’s a family-friendly event, everybody gets along and has fun,” Izzo said. “It gives us one more thing to do and another reason to love Englewood. After the year that we’ve had with Covid, the more we can do to generate a positive economic impact is best.”

And that economic impact was substantial.

“We’ve sold more tickets this year and have more sponsors now,” Englewood Beach Waterfest board director William Lutz of Throughbread Golf Carts in Englewood said. “We also have 20 people that flew in from Ohio just to volunteer. They aren’t snowbirds, they just come here to help us. They use their time volunteering as their vacation.”

Those Ohioans were part of about 400 volunteers who came out to help put on the big show over its three-day run.

We appreciate them and all the volunteers and organizers behind these two great events.


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