Now in its third year, the Palmetto Bay Food & Rock Festival took place at Ludovici Park (behind the Palmetto Bay public library) on December 6. For seven hours, more than 1500 people were treated to incredible live music, high quality food/drink, glorious weather and an all-around good time.
Run by Florida Rock Stars’ co-founders Richard DiBenedetto and Mickey Filippucci, the multi-hour event raised money for charity, and brought Palmetto Bay another great outdoor event. “We don’t do this for the money, we have a love for live, local music and putting on a big party,” explained DiBenedetto.
Mayor Eugene Flinn attended saying, “This event sends out a clear note that our Village truly is an enviable place to be. Top-quality programs like this – along with our hugely successful ‘Holiday by the Bay’ event – are what people look for when deciding to keep their home or business here. Why go anywhere else when you can go right down the street for a great night out or a memorable family experience? Quality of life, that’s what it is all about.”
The festival featured performances by Cutler Stew, The Livesays, The Regs and Mr. Nice Guy, each delivering a solid 90-minute set of their high-energy rock. “This is one of the reasons to be in South Florida,” exclaimed concert-goer Karen Towriss, “Seeing so many great bands in one place with all this amazing food and energy is a real treat!”
In the past five years, Florida Rock Stars has put on several shows in Palmetto Bay and Homestead, each with challenges. They attempted to do a huge show at Zoo Miami this year, but couldn’t reach agreement with County officials. With the help of Ron Derrick of the band Cutler Stew, Palmetto Bay was tapped instead. “This really was a blessing,” explained DiBenedetto, “The Village rolled out the red carpet for us and people like Ron, MiamiHal, Ed Silva and Fanny Carmona of the Parks Department cut through the typical red tape to make this happen at an extremely high level. We couldn’t be happier with Palmetto Bay and the fans were awesome!”
The festival featured local food vendors and an impressive air-conditioned VIP area, complete with a live feed of the show and Rock Stars frozen margaritas. “The response was incredible and everyone is ready and excited for next year,” Filippucci added, “One of our main goals is to support charity. This year we helped raise $11,000 for Parker-Haar’s ‘Team Jess’ [Hughes], a 24-year old three-peat cancer survivor who lives in Palmetto Bay. We also raised $1200 for Mike Fink’s ‘Patches’ organization who helps poor sick kids in Homestead.”
Mayor Flinn looked toward the future, “This year the Ed & Arlene Feller Amphitheater at Ludovici Park was the right venue, but as this major community event grows, it could easily become a cornerstone program for a future downtown-district amphitheater. With fast access to mass transportation and ample parking, and a smooth flow onto the US-1 commercial corridor, this is exactly the type event that could really make our downtown rock and roll, and draw attention to this viable new business and residential hub.”