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2021 Bradenton River Regatta Canceled Due To COVID-19

speedboat on water
COURTESY BRADENTON AREA RIVER REGATTA
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Bradenton Area River Regatta
The Bradenton Area River Regatta brings racing boats like these, along with thousands of visitors, to the area each year -- but the 2021 event has been cancelled.

Officials hope the event, which is a huge economic boost for Bradenton and Palmetto, will resume in February 2022.

The Bradenton Area River Regatta, which attracts close to 100,000 people from around the country, is being canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus.

The event, which was scheduled to take place in Feb. 2021, brings in between six million and eight million dollars to the city annually.

A group of officials, including Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston; Elliott Falcione, the executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Mike Fetchko, the president of the ISM-USA sports management firm that produces the Regatta, made the decision to cancel to ensure the safety of spectators.

Falcione said the objectives of the event are to not just attract new visitors to the urban core of Bradenton and Palmetto before the summer, but get them to return.

“Research tells us 94% of first-timers return within 12 months,” said Falcione. “So we felt like if we can do a signature event of this caliber, it would easily meet those two objectives.”

While the Regatta is free to attend, visitors spend money on hotels, local vendors, and merchandise sales.

And while other local communities like Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key are seeing some recovery from the pandemic’s economic effects, the financial damage of the cancellation will be felt in the mainland area for some time to come.

“We need the demand. We need the consumers talking through social media channels...this is one event, the largest signature event that helps Palmetto/Bradenton,” Falcione said.

Mayor Poston said he wishes they could still have the event in Bradenton in February, but he isn’t concerned about lingering effects in the future.

“All we do is have the Regatta and they’ll show up,” Poston said.

The city anticipates the Regatta returning in February 2022. Falcione hopes they will see an even larger turn-out -- provided there are proven vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 by that time.