Ideas, idle gossip, and occasionally important odds ’n’ ends – by Jack Wright
Cape May boasts the second most lucrative fishing port on the east coast, and the fourth in the nation, so it made sense to host a seafood festival here. And that’s what happened on Saturday, when thousands of people gathered under a tented village on Beach Avenue, as well as inside Convention Hall, to learn about seafood, enjoy cooking demonstrations, and then get to eat the food, while being entertained by salty old sea shanty music performed by an assortment of bands.
It was a pretty major event — a whole block of Beach Avenue was closed off, and it looked like almost every employee of Cape May City was on duty. Mayor Ed Mahaney said he estimated there were around 11,000 people attending the event, although other sources thought that estimate was quite a bit on the large side.
I’m glad the festival was such a big success — I’m behind any quality gigs that bring more people to town and enhance the Cape May Experience. I’m just a little bemused at how little information came out of the city. We received a press release about a news conference announcing the event on February 19, and that was the last piece of info we got, believe it or not. On Monday, I did a Google search for Cape May Seafood Festival and only found ONE news item between February 28 and June 26, and that was from a website called drinknation.
And as I browsed Facebook on Friday, I noticed a comment from John Cooke, one of Cape May’s most tireless advocates, who wrote that he didn’t think a lot of people knew about this event. Don’t get me wrong — we at Exit Zero were well aware the festival was coming up and published an Activity Column about the event two weeks ago, but I think it’s fair to say that awareness of the event outside of the last few days was low.
Which is very odd given that Cape May Forum were partners in the event, along with the city. The Forum are usually VERY active in marketing their events. But apparently the City of Cape May didn’t want the Forum to promote the event, preferring to handle that on its own… except it didn’t, at least not with the local and regional press.
I spoke with Mayor Mahaney on Monday and he was surprised that information had not been sent to local and regional press. “We’re having a debriefing after the holiday and that’s one item that we will have to discuss,” he said, noting that the city had used social media to get the word out.
And if you checked out the city’s DiscoverCapeMay.com site, you’d notice that the only info on the festival announced that same old news conference in February. There WAS a website recently launched to promote the festival but that wasn’t promoted either.
So… full marks to the city and Cape May Forum for putting together a very well-run event. But let’s hope they don’t keep it such a secret next year.
BIRD IS THE WORD, created by Rosemary Dery