Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival returns to Fort Lauderdale beach this weekend for a second year of showing off country music’s biggest names, including Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert and Hank Williams Jr. The 26-act lineup also includes nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow, Ziggy Marley and Train.
The good vibrations are still being felt after the success of 2013’s inaugural festival, also a benefit for the ocean-conservation efforts championed on-site by groups led by the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University.
Mayor Jack Seiler was “pleasantly surprised” at how smoothly the first event went off. Changes have been made to address minor traffic and parking issues, and the festival responded quickly to his request that security personnel be positioned outside the fence this week to help pedestrians navigate the area, he says.
“Of course, we’d all like to see it grow,” Seiler says. “So far, the majority of people I talk to have been very pleased.”
Last year’s two-day event drew an estimated 25,000 visitors, but ticket sales are trending toward 35,000 to 40,000 this year, according to A.J. Niland, CEO of festival producer Huka Entertainment, based in Mobile, Ala. And this may only be a dry run for a bigger turnout in 2015, an event that Niland says he’s close to topping with “a couple of big names.”
“They love the location,” Niland says. “For example, most of the time [a festival performer] will come in, play, and leave that night. We’ve got some [at Tortuga] who are coming in a day early and leaving a day later, just to watch other acts or enjoy themselves. What does that tell you?”
Sounds like this thing is only going to get bigger, so let’s get organized. Here are 10 things you need to know to go to the 2014 Tortuga Music Festival:
While bridges will be open, festival organizers and law enforcement strongly suggest not driving to the beach. Shuttle buses will make regular runs between 10 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. from a free parking area at the Galleria mall (which also has valet parking). A single-day shuttle pass costs $20, $30 for two days. They are available on the festival website. Water taxi shuttles will service those who use the many downtown lots near Riverfront. The round-trip fare is $20, and you get free parking if you buy your water taxi ticket at the Riverfront Garage when you park. Info: 954-467-6677, WaterTaxi.com.
NO TICKETS, NO PROBLEM
The box office at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park (1100 Seabreeze Blvd.) will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Price at the gate is $110, $190 for two days. VIP (and super VIP) packages also are available. Kids 10 or younger get in for free. More info: TortugaMusicFestival.
The festival would rather you didn’t, since the theme is about preserving the health of the ocean, but boaters will be allowed to anchor on sandy bottom outside of a special safety zone that runs 120 yards from shore. Buoys will mark the standard 100-yard swimming area and an additional 20-yard north-south navigation zone for public-safety vessels.
LIONFISH, IT'S WHAT'S OR DINNER
Top local chefs will offer samples of the invasive species in a tent in the Guy Harvey Conservation Village. They include Kareem Anguin of OceanAire Seafood Room (2 p.m. Saturday), S3’s Chris Miracolo (4:30 p.m. Saturday), Marcela Guzman-Galan of the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale (noon Sunday), Andres Avayu of Piccolo (2:30 p.m. Sunday) and Mano Calambichis of Big Chef (5 p.m. Sunday).
THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT
Why stumble around in the sand when you can use the Rock the Ocean Tortuga Music Festival App (Android and IOS)? Worm your way into the chatter on the app by using #TORTUGAFEST on Twitter and Instagram.
One of the remarkable sights at last year’s festival was the small but growing crowd of people standing in knee-deep water just outside a fence. They were closer to the stage Kenny Chesney was on than people in the back who had paid major money. No bar and no bathroom, but the price was right. And the water looked inviting.
Because the music, food and drinks are not enough, yes, there is a waterslide this year. To ride, you have to register your wristband at TortugaMusicFestival.com. (May not be available in Florida.)
Plenty of locals chose to ride to the 2013 festival, where there was no shortage of places to lock up and plenty of police around to keep an eye on your wheels. But that ride back, after a detour to Bahia Cabana or the Treasure Trove (or both), can be a challenge. There also are several stations at the beach (and several downtown) for the Broward B-cycle bike-share program, which runs $5 per 30 minutes, maximum of $50 a day. Call 754-200-5672 or go to Broward.Bcycle.com.
TORTUGA AT HOME
The Tortuga Music Festival will be streamed live via Live Media Group’s Virtual Wristband technology, which made its debut last month at the Buku Music and Art Festival in New Orleans. Cost: $9.99. Go to Livestream.TortugaMusicFestival.com.
GARBAGE IN, TICKETS OUT
At last year’s festival, the nonprofit Clean Vibes recycled more than 40,000 pounds of your junk through its Trash-For-Trade program, which again is dangling tickets to the 2015 Tortuga Music festival as a grand prize. To take part, get a blue bag from the Clean Vibes Trading Post in the Guy Harvey Conservation Village and fill it with cups, cans and bottles. The points you earn can be traded for food vendor vouchers, sunglasses, fishing gear, camp chairs, a skimboard and more. The person who turns in the most recycling wins two tickets to Tortuga Music Festival 2015.