by Liza Mitchell
summer music festivals draw people in from all over, whether they are coming for the music or as vendors to sell to the festival-goers. A new summer festival in Jacksonville Beach is keeping it local by celebrating all of the city’s native resources. Community First Credit Union, in partnership with Jax Beach Festivals, will present the Community First Seawalk Music Festival from noon to 10 pm on Saturday, June 15 at the SeaWalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach.
Festival producer Amy Galbreath of Jax Beach Festivals says she created this event in response to the many area musicians and vendors who wanted the opportunity to participate in a local festival. “Every vendor, every musician, every artist, every volunteer and crew member are all local,” she says. “This was asked for by the public, and we answered.”
Galbreath says that she was approached by several people about the lack of locally owned and operated business involvement during the preparation for the spring festival season. Most of the concessionaires for major festivals are sourced out of state. “People want to know why we can’t have Mayport shrimp?” she says. “We couldn’t tell other vendors where to source their food. I would rather a local restaurant get a 10 x 10 tent and sell their food here than bring in someone else from out of state to do it.”
She addressed the concerns by visiting countless area festivals and personally hand-selecting local vendors to take part in the new Beaches festival. “The local movement is so strong in this city. A lot of it happened with the economy. People would rather put money into local businesses instead of big box stores, especially the ones that are struggling,” she says. “This is the chance for the artist who paints in his garage to have people see his work. We are trying to give every business that wants to participate their right to do so. It’s time for Jacksonville Beach to be part of the movement.”
To better assist area businesses, Galbreath says Jax Beach Festivals lowered the price of the vendor fees to encourage more local participation. And to offset the loss of revenue from the reduced fees, Jax Beach Festivals entered into a three year commitment with Community First Credit Union as the title sponsor. “They want to see local businesses thrive as much as we do,” she says.
Community First CEO John Hirabayashi says they often partner with local organizations to develop family-friendly activities that promote a healthy lifestyle. They also sponsor the weekend event, Community First Saturdays, on the first Saturday of every month on the Downtown Riverwalk with great success. “The festival’s emphasis on all things local is a great way to celebrate area talent and support the local economy, while providing an affordable entertainment option for families to enjoy together,” he says.
In keeping with the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, Galbreath is also partnering with the Jacksonville Food Truck Association to ensure that half of all the food options provided by the participating food trucks are healthy, gluten-free and vegetarian menu choices rather than just the standard festival fare.
“Not just offer it but point it out on their menu,” she says. “There will still be burgers, but there will be healthier options as well.”
Galbreath is hoping to grow the Community First Seawalk Music Festival into a flagship summer event that will serve the needs of the residents and merchants alike in order to promote the local lifestyle that’s so important to the community. “This is a fresh new festival,” she says. “This is going to be different than anything Jacksonville Beach has ever seen.”