Get Ready for St. Andrew’s Mardi Gras Celebrations – the Final Party of the Season!

The Mardi Gras buzz is most definitely in the air, and if you were one of the 40,000 people who came out to Mardi Gras at the Beach last weekend despite the not-so-great weather, you know that Mardi Gras in Panama City is an event you can’t miss! Continue reading “Get Ready for St. Andrew’s Mardi Gras Celebrations – the Final Party of the Season!”

18 Free Tickets to the Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine and Music Festival

This weekend the Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine and Music Festival is rocking the town with awesome bands such as Styx and Grand Funk Railroad bringing hits like Mr. Roboto and We’re an American Band.  This is the second year the event has been run by a few local business men striving to make this the greatest event in Panama City Beach.

This year’s event brings the same great organization as last year, but tons more value.

Continue reading “18 Free Tickets to the Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine and Music Festival”

Now, Back to Regularly Scheduled Bashing

Notes from Today’s TDC Meeting

  • Bed Taxes are up $117,000 thanks to back-taxes being collected.
  • The Circus by the Sea is more than likely coming back.  Maybe it will draw more crowds next year.
  • The CVB has a new interactive marketing manager coming on board.
  • Rowe distributed estimates of costs of strategic plan proposals to board.  I’ll be asking for copies of those to post here soon.
  • Mayor Gayle Oberst explained that Panama City Beach could not use bed taxes to fund lifeguards.  As one Marketing Committee member told me later, it’s a good thing we’re smarter than Walton county on that issue.  I have a lifeguard manifesto brewing; I’m sure it’ll come out any day now.
  • The TDC’s market research firm, Klages, is up for contract renewal, and the board showed concern that the 2008 results were not worth the investment.  Tabled.  Marketing Research, tabled.

Now to the juicy stuff…

Spring Break is heating up quickly… Spring Break funding was tabled after Dan Rowe requested approval on the MTVu plan ($150K CVB, $100K co-op).

Chairman Andy Phillips and Marketing Committee Chairman Buddy Wilkes questioned whether the co-op could really raise $100K. Mr. Rowe believes so; however lodging leaders stepped up quickly and said that because of the exclusive booking deal MTVu has with Student City, they would not participate in that co-op.

Board member Mike Bennett suggests the funding should go into a different Spring Break program.  Dan Rowe suggested that if it’s not MTVu, then put the money in something other than Spring Break.  Jack Bishop said the Klages report proved the CVB should invest the $150,000 into Spring Break. (It’s getting good!)

Folks in the audience suggested that only the Boardwalk benefited from the 2008 Spring Break plan.  (It’s really getting good!)

There was a hint that there may be another Spring Break community workshop. The marketing committee will address the issue before the next TDC meeting on November 6.  (Don’t you think this is going to get good!?)

And More Utter Disregard for the Special Event Policy

The Board unanimously approved 2009 funding for the Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine, & Music Festival.  Wow.  Wasn’t even on the agenda.

Special Event Side Note – Do you realize that 3.25 million dollars worth of lodging has to be brought in to raise $65K in bed taxes?

If PCBSWMF would have reported the need for $65,000 invested in the infrastructure at Frank Brown Park for next year’s event, that would be different.  PCBSWMF Promoter Jack Bishop stated that the event could not serve 30,000 attendees as reported by previous promoters. Hopefully PCBSWMF will use all $65K to improve the infrastructure.  We’ll see.

Speaking of we’ll see, we’ll see the full PCBSWMF report next month.  Hopefully that report will include exactly how and where the 2008 TDC investment was spent.

In the meantime, we sure would like to have other promoters comment here with your thoughts on the TDC’s Special Events “Policy.”

If I misinterpreted anyone’s comments from today’s meeting, please email me at, or even better yet, clarify your message right here in the comments section.

Tons of People + Festival = Good Time

The parking lot was packed, being filled by a line of cars wrapped all the way up Pier Park Drive next to Palmetto Trace.  The parking attendants looked exhausted from waving their flashlights and talking to drivers at 9 pm.  There were still people pouring in when I left tonight.

Looking at license plates on the way out, every other car was from either Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina.  The draw looked healthy, and so far, without seeing any actual numbers, the attendance looked good.

Between Beach Bouncers, carnival rides/attractions, funnel cakes, and cotton candy, there was plenty to keep the kids busy.  With roaming clowns and people passing out candy, every kid was singing of gum drops and cherry planes.

At the opposite side of the camp, a band rocked the main stage with common covers such as Foxy Lady and Sweet Home Alabama.  Opening for the main act, the growing crowd was being pumped up for .38 Special.

We didn’t get to try any of the endless varieties of food, but I’m sure most, if not all, was good.  Vendors ranged from Beef ‘o Brady’s to Boatyard.  Shopping was abound in plenty with anything from really cool hanging chairs to little wooden figurines just a quick negotiation away from a comfortable place on your mantle.

The party was definitely hoppin tonight, and will continue to entertain thousands tomorrow.  The gates open at 11 am with stilt walkers, balloon artists, face painters, sand sculpting, Hands on Art, live kid’s concerts, Gallagher’s Gymnastics presentations and much, much more.

Full schedule of events for Saturday, October 11th at the Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine & Music Festival

Gates Open – 11a – Marketplace, food, Family Fun Days activities, amusements, all open
Family Fun Days 11a-3p – Stilt Walkers, Balloon Artists, Face Painters, Bouncer Village, Sand Sculpting, Hands on Art by Visual Arts Center, live kids concerts, Gallaghers Gymnastics presentations, and more
Lunch With Sponge Bob – 11:30am-12:30pm – Coca Cola Tent (dining tent) $5 per child up to 12 years old, $8 per person 13+ (includes Pizza & Coca-Cola)
Steve’s Kazoo Krew Band – 11a-12:30pm – Coca Cola Stage (dining tent)
Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience Band – 12:30p-1:30pm – Colonial Bank Stage in KIDS VILLAGE
Half Price Temp Tattoos @ Tat Shack – 12:30p-1:30pm – KIDS VILLAGE
Sand Sculpting for Kids with master Sand Sculptor Mark Flynn – 1:30-2:30p – KIDS VILLAGE
On-Call Jazz Band – 1:30pm-4pm – Coca-Cola Stage (dining tent)
Gallagher’s Gymnastics Team performance – 2:30pm – Colonial Bank Stage in KIDS VILLAGE
Chef Exhibition – Chef of Reggae J’s – 3pm – Chef & Wine Tent
Grand Wine Tastings – 4p-6p – Wine Garden @ Chef & Wine Tent
De Lions of Jah Reggae Band – 4p-6:30pm – Clear Channel Stage (mainstage)
Chef Exhibtion – Chef Conrad of Boatyard – 4pm – Chef & Wine Tent
Chef Exhibition – Chef Paul of Firefly – 5pm – Chef & Wine Tent
Panhandle Star Competition Top 5 finalists – 6:30pm-7:30pm – Clear Channel Stage (mainstage)
Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience – 7:30p-8:45pm – Clear Channel Stage (mainstage)
Blues Traveler – 9pm-11pm – Clear Channel Stage (mainstage)

TDC Needs New Formula for Special Events

Special events at the beach are wonderful for Bay County.  The biggest events, Spring Break and Thunder Beach,  drive huge amounts of tourists to Panama City Beach.

Smaller events bring in good revenue for the bed tax collectors (and beneficiaries), such as the Ironman and Gulf Coast Triathlons, Emerald Coast Cruizin’ car show, and hopefully, the new Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine, & Music Festival.

There are a few other small events, but we need many more small and large in order for the tourism economy to thrive year-round.  It is  — and should be —  a top priority  for the TDC/CVB to enable and promote special events.

But with special events come special interests, and special interests have no place in our government spending decisions.

Therefore, in order for the TDC to be fair to all event planners, promoters, the bed tax collectors (and beneficiaries), and the citizens of Bay County, they must avoid any conflict of special interests.

Here are a few ways to make this happen:

1. Put bed tax dollars into infrastructure that holds special events, such as stages, fairgrounds, parking lots, ball fields and other outdoor venues. Make it a great place for a promoter to put on an event and succeed.

2. Provide additional support for safety and trash-control during events.

3. Maintain infrastructure.

4. Instead of paying to promote events to tourists, promote Panama City Beach to potential event promoters.

5. Provide marketing research staff to survey event attendees. This tells the individual businesses which events bring what tourists, and helps them do their own marketing/advertising/event sponsorships accordingly.

6. Provide Public Relations support and website exposure for all events.

There! Good! No complaints from anyone.

Hopefully bed tax collectors will agree there needs to be a new policy.  But whether you do or not, here are some clear examples of what has happened recently to prove why it is unwise for the TDC to put funding into promoters’ pockets.

1. There is a process in place that a promoter must go through to be considered for TDC event funding.  As pointed out in recent articles, that policy has not been followed.  Therefore, it’s unfair to some, very fair to others and no fair to the rest of us.

2.  The promoters are sometimes more shifty than thrifty.  Some claim they don’t need TDC money, then get it anyway.  Some disappear.  Some make promises they have no intention of keeping.  It’s no fun watching – or participating in – a government body that must make spending decisions on people / events that really do not have to be accountable.

3. Events can fail.  The Circus by the Sea proposal was unique in that they approached the TDC for a $100K “loan” that would be paid back upon success.  Most everyone on the TDC and in the business community, including myself, was certain the circus would be a success.  Unfortunately it was not.  That money is gone, unless the Circus by the Sea miraculously figures out how to market its event and fill its tent.  We would have been better off buying 100,000 Lotto tickets.

Hey… Lotto Tickets with Bed Tax Dollars!  Not a bad idea compared to the way Special Event money has been handed out lately.

Grand Lagoon National Cancelled for this year

Well, I hope this is not a sign for times to come for Bill Spann and his new fishing tournament, the Grand Lagoon National.  The first year out of the hole the competition was postponed, postponed again, and now totally cancelled all together.

Regardless of what some told me, I truly thought it was to be a good addition to this years Panama City Beach festivities.  With Spann’s experience, and after a couple of conversations with him, it was very apparent that this was not his first rodeo.  He has been doing this very type of event for years, and has always put on a good show.

This year, so far, has certainly not been without peril, with regards to the weather.  With 6 tropical storms and/or hurricanes to have come into our Gulf waters this hurricane season, planning anything for our area is challenging at best.  Jack Bishop remarked at the last TDC meeting that it is always risky planning event during this time of year.  The last couple years have been very calm, but this year has been very active.  We can only speculate what is to come next year.

So at this point, what comes of the $50,000 the TDC gave The Grand Lagoon National to help it “get off the ground”?  That money was to be an “investment” that had some promise of return with a potential of profit.  I’m sure that money has been spent as some festivities did take place, but no revenue was generated through registration fees.  Does the TDC stand to recover that money next year?  Will the Grand Lagoon National receive $50,000 next year as allocated in the FY2008-2009 budget?

Bike Week on Panama City Beach

Many of you know already, but some friends of mine started a full-fledged events planning company and invited me along.  Tropic Thunder Events consists of experts from many fields combined with one love – to boost tourism in Panama City Beach by providing awesome things to do.

With myriad events in the works including a classic car show, classic car auction, BBQ Cook-Off and a motorcycle event that will happen in 2 short weeks, we are looking forward to doing our part to boost tourism on Panama City Beach.

Ok, so about the Bike Week.  Others in the area have done a phenomenal job in the past of bringing tens of  thousands of people to the beach during some of the slowest weekends of the season.  Tropic Thunder Events’ goal is to help encourage even more people to come to the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches on some of these slow weekends by hosting events that will attract people to our area.  Bike Week has traditionally been one of those events.  This year, Tropic Thunder Events introduces its own Bike Week during the week of September 25-28. With the addition of five Unofficial Tropic Thunder Events Venues including Club La Vela, Mellow Mushroom, Dirty Dicks Crab House, and all of the Ms. Newby’s locations, the biker party is sure to be enormous.  With our increased marketing efforts, this year’s Bike Week will be the biggest Panama City Beach has ever seen.

Click here for a schedule of events at all our venues!

In October, Tropic Thunder will host the Southeastern BBQ Fest Cook-Off Competition.  This will be a professionally sanctioned and judged event of the Florida Barbecue Association.  This event is one of only 18 annual competitions sanctioned by the Florida Barbeque Association in the USA.  The event will take place at Frank Brown Park on October 24-26, 2008.

Tropic Thunder Events has teamed up with the Emerald Coast Cruizin group to bring the second annual Big Boys Toys Classic Car Auction at Frank Brown Park.  The auction will be the same weekend as the colossal Emerald Coast Cruizin Classic Car Show, that Tropic Thunder, of course, will also be promoting.  The 2007 Car Auction was a huge success with hundreds of cars sold and thousands in attendance.

Emerald Coast Cruizin’s Classic Car Show, to take place at Frank Brown Park, will feature thousands of classic hot rods from all over the US and Canada.  With over 100 top-name vendors, there is sure to be plenty to see and buy.  Scheduled is a 30 mile “Beach Cruise”, events ranging from live music to a parade, and much, much more.  For details, visit

For more information about Tropic Thunder Events, visit Also, if you are a vendor, we still have vendor positions available, give us a call at 877-448-7674 to secure your position!

Oh yea, and the legalese, in case you haven’t figured this out yet:

Tropic Thunder Events, Inc. is not affiliated in any way with Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally.

.38 Special to play at The Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine & Music Festival

THE PANAMA CITY BEACH SEAFOOD, WINE & MUSIC FESTIVAL, formerly the Indian Summer Festival, proudly announces a major addition to the event’s entertainment line-up.

Eventertainment Group, LLC., in cooperation with Neste Event Marketing of Nashville has secured .38 Special as the festival’s major headliner for the kickoff day of the event, Friday October 10, 2008. Show time T.B.A., advance discount tickets on sale soon.

Continue reading “.38 Special to play at The Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine & Music Festival”